Trucking is a relationship business. Drivers are people and their issues are your issues. Driver retention is all about establishing clear expectations and responding when a driver’s or your expectations are not being met.
Start with Setting Expectations
Establish your expectations on day one with a written agreement between the Driver Manager and the driver. This document defines your driver scorecard and how you measure success for the position. Provide the driver with the opportunity to define within reason his or her expectations of the company. This day one meeting should eliminate any confusion of what’s important to the company. Once the expectations are agreed upon, the Driver Manager and Driver sign the document. Provide them with the golden ticket to schedule a meeting or call anytime the Driver Manager or Driver feels their expectations aren’t being met.
Establish a Cadence
Drivers should have access to the scorecard on demand. An effective scorecard should be highly visual and simple to digest. This should be reviewed each week on a 15 minute check-in between the Driver Manager and Driver. A more in-depth 30 minute face-to-face meeting should be scheduled each month to review trends on the scorecard. Praise the behavior that you want to see and build on the driver’s strengths to bring up any KPI’s that need addressed.
How Do You Respond to Your Drivers' Problems?
Designate a go-to person who is not in dispatch as the point of contact for all drivers. They will be your Driver Liaison. This person handles any issues they can and assigns the appropriate person tasks to resolve it. This prevents a driver from jumping around the office like a bad customer service experience on a corporation's phone tree. The designated Driver Liaison tracks the issue until it’s resolved. This person should measure how long issues remain open and flag any that might create a flight risk.
Taking the Temperature
Anonymous surveys are good tools to assess the temperature of your fleet. It can provide current drivers with more freedom to be honest without fear of reprisal or losing their jobs. While not every driver’s complaints are warranted or fair, this level of honesty is very important to driver retention. By giving drivers the opportunity to provide feedback both anonymously and unguided by manager expectation, you are able to get a more accurate and complete picture of where you need to get better at your company and schedules aren’t really an issue. Surveys are not perfect measures of your company, but where there is smoke, there is usually fire.
4 Ways to Improve Your Driver Retention
We strongly suggest you have someone who is a Director of Retention or Driver Liaison. Put this person in charge of confirming the communication cadence is being met, monitoring the trends of driver issues reported, and the speed to which issues are resolved to the satisfaction of the driver. Their bonus structure should be based on their success moving the retention needle.
Never make promises you can’t keep. It’s important to show drivers you are aware of problems and are actively working on addressing them, but you also have to be realistic.
Establish your communication cadence so there’s clear definition to weekly check ins and monthly meetings.
In your weekly/monthly driver newsletter, be sure to thank drivers for their input for improvements from the Driver Manager and Driver Liaison check-ins. Share and celebrate the ideas that came from drivers to encourage more suggestions and build buy in.
For a deeper dive into improving driver retention, review our 75 Driver Retention strategies.