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Four Best Practices To Improve Driver On-Boarding

Posted by Scott Rea on March 1, 2018 in the category Retention

Four Best Practices To Improve Onboarding

When it comes to professional driving, the first 90 days are your critical period for retention. These first three months are pivotal for a driver deciding if he or she made the right decision - we have to avoid “buyer’s remorse.”

90 days is a good indicator if you’ll keep a driver for the long term but first impressions are everything. Day one is when they are full of nerves and excitement. That’s your time to prove to them, this is their new home and where they’ll retire from. Take a look at your first day - is it a honeymoon or do they start by signing the prenup?

HireRight, a transportation industry leader in background screening, recently produced these ten tips for onboarding new employees. We believe the top four key principles to keep in mind as you turn your on-boarding process into a love fest that sets high expectations:

1. Treat New Hires Like Your #1 Client

Each new hire that comes through your door doesn’t know what to expect. They don’t know anyone, your culture, or where the restrooms are - it’s like the first day of school without anyone familiar from the year before. Start with putting their name out front on a welcome sign. Give them a parking spot with their name on it for day one. Make them feel special. They just left a job to join your team - show them appreciation for taking that risk. Be waiting for them in the lobby to welcome them so they’re not wandering around. Make sure they have your cell if they can’t find the building or right office. Treat a new driver like your top client is walking through the door and remove as much anxiety on the little things as possible.

2. Hugs or a Prenup? 

If your first two hours of orientation are consumed by filling out paperwork, you’re doing it wrong. You’re face to face time with drivers is limited, don’t waste it on paperwork. Use your Applicant Tracking System, like ApplicantCare, to gather new hire paperwork electronically before orientation. This will allow you to start orientation engaging new hires to what you’re culture is all about. Spend time to get to know them as human and give them time to connect with their dispatcher as a human. I know you like to go over the paperwork with them to make sure they got it but no one comprehends everything from two hours of this mind numbing task. They’ll already be familiar with the content it after reviewing it online. Highlight the keys in a presentation, provide a written summary and then invite any questions. Put yourself in their shoes - does your orientation show them what your culture is all about or is it an exhausting process that documents how you’ll be able to fire them when they screw up?

3. Driver Mentor

Drivers want to hear and learn from their peers who are going to tell them how it’s really done. It happens already, so formalize it. Ask your experienced drivers who would like to sign up as a mentor for new drivers and give them a checklist of things to cover. Set them up for success and give them the playbook you want them to cover - control the message. Your millennial drivers crave and expect this. As we’ve discussed in a previous presentation, millenials have been raised by helicopter parents who helped them along every step of the way - you need to provide the professional parenting in the form of a mentor. Take this a positive - millennials crave both positive and negative feedback because they want to know where they stand with the organization. A peer review means a lot to them.

4. Structured Feedback and Check Ins

Prove to this new person right away that their opinions matter and get in front of any potential issues. Schedule check-ins with your dispatchers, driver mentors, and the recruiter that brought them in. These three people have different relationships with the new driver and will provide you with various points of view. Log your conversations in one place and review weekly to determine who needs additional love.  If you can do this with every new person, you will easily create a team of people who can solve problems and will not hesitate to bring issues to your attention rather than ignore them. If not, little issues boil up and one little straw will break the camel's back.

Recap: Show Them Love!

Sit in orientation next week and ask yourself - is this the right representation of our company? Do new drivers get to ask questions and feel a little more confident about their new jobs? Lean on your drivers who have been through this process before for suggestions. Driver retention is, and will always be, a team effort and that starts the minute a new driver walks through your door. Your recruiters made promises, day one is when you start to prove them.


Watch a portion of President Scott Rea's presentation on working with the millennial generation and how to appeal to their wants, needs and desires as potential hires.

Recruiting Millenials