Driver turnover. We hear it over and over again. There’s no denying it’s a problem; the statistics speak for themselves. I am not going to waste your time repeating them – you already know what they are. You know they’re high. Too high. So, what can fleets do about it? What proactive measures can be established to mitigate this turnover problem?
During TCA’s annual convention, I spoke to a group of people wanting to know just that. Whether a fleet owner, safety manager, or a recruiter, they all wanted to know: “What can I do to reduce the number of drivers that are handing in their keys?”
Here’s what we know: driver churn is no new thing; it’s been an industry-wide problem for as long as any of us can remember. What is new is the sheer number of drivers that leave recruiters scrambling to fill seats and owners worried about freight that won’t be delivered on time.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be reviewing 10 steps you can take right now – whatever your role is within your company – to ease the pain of the driver shortage, and make driver turnover a problem of the past.
Understand That First Impressions Matter
You know what they say: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. And this rule of law does not exclude your drivers.
First impressions matter. They start in marketing and advertising and should be a consistent branding of your culture.
When you first get the driver on the phone, that’s the driver’s first impression and it needs to be of the same high value as your marketing and advertising.
The same goes with your onboarding processes, the first interaction with maintenance and throughout their lifecycle.
Let’s use orientation as a starting point. Does your executive meeting room boast an elaborate table and comfortably plush chairs? Now walk across the hall. Does the driver training room have hard plastic chairs and tables?
Not a very warm environment for recruits when you think about it, is it?
Next, consider the people that are welcoming the drivers to orientation. Are the drivers being shown around and introduced to everyone around them, or simply told to sit and listen to whatever training you’ve got in store for them that day?
It all matters; from the very first interaction with a driver to the time a driver hands in his or her keys, every single communication should be thoughtfully executed and planned.
Communication – open, honest communication – is what makes a team work.
I speak to dozens of carriers who are owner-run and tell me about their open-door policy and open communication.
This alone doesn’t make you stand out. So, what does make you stand out? Acting on that open-door policy. Think about it for a sec: Just how open is your door? Be a little hard on yourself. Sometimes, we need to do that to note our faults and see how we can learn from them.
Why’s this important? I’m a numbers guy, so here’s something to consider: According to a Forbes article, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
The takeaway here? Offer to keep that door open and then do it – which nicely leads into my next tip.
Listen to Drivers
It’s been said that the biggest communication problem is that we don’t listen to understand, we listen to reply. Consider this, and how well you listen to your drivers.
It’s counter-intuitive because I’m a tech owner, but I will be open about this: the more we rely on automated communications, the less relationship-building you offer.
It's great to have tech in place, but there need to be investments made towards relationship-building. It’s not enough to do surveys. You need to act on what you hear. If you don't, you're proving that you don’t take feedback seriously, and drivers won’t bring ideas that can truly help your operations move forward.
Check back next week for more tips. In the meantime, please share what you think works when it comes to an effective retention strategy.