When’s the last time you showed your drivers how valuable they are to your company? Are you waiting for driver appreciation week? If you want to retain your best drivers, you can’t afford to wait. Most transportation companies across the U.S. face nearly 100% driver turnover. The good news is that the driver problem is preventable - it’s your choice if you have one or not.
Drivers quit for a number of reasons, ranging from pay to how they’re treated by managers and dispatch. Most companies miss the mark when it comes to driver retention. They stuff one week full of cookouts and shower drivers with knick-knacks that are bound to collect dust in their closets. These displays of appreciation are important, but without lasting change to your company, they’re just a flash in the pan - here today, gone tomorrow. That’s not what drivers want. If you want different results than the rest of the industry, you have to do something different.
Seriously moving your retention needle requires a holistic approach. Make every week driver appreciation week and create a driver-centric culture. A driver-centric culture is one that puts its drivers’ needs and wants first in every company decision. This isn’t to say that other employees’ needs should be forgotten or ignored, but your dispatchers and managers aren’t the employees who generate revenue. Everyone else exists to support drivers. Here are three changes you can make that your drivers actually want.
Provide your drivers with effective defensive driving education and training. Believe it or not, it will set you apart as an employer of choice. Our Search Engine Optimization research on driver recruiting show that drivers are searching for safe companies. They know a company serious about safety will invest in them.
A great opportunity to stand out in the crowded driver recruiting space is to create safety oriented driver career path. Use LLLC Driver Certification to advance their defensive driving knowledge and skills. It’s a blended approach of online courses, classroom and behind-the-wheel demonstration of defensive driving. Reinforce your drivers are true professionals by rewarding them with certificates, pins, patches and shirts that show off their accomplishments. You want to market their commitment to safety and having other drivers ask them how they earned that gear. Then, provide an opportunity for drivers to apply to be a LLLC Certified Instructor. This elite class of driver is your safety ambassador to the fleet. They already lead by example and it’s your job to give them the tools and knowledge to become an elite teacher.
Issues with pay is one of the most common reasons drivers quit. Sure, they want more money, but how your drivers get paid is often as important as how much your drivers get paid. Take a look at your payment process. Most importantly, is it consistent or does it go up and down like the stock market week to week? Does a driver control the up and down or is each week’s pay dependent on your dispatch, customers, traffic, and weather? Carriers that are paying drivers consistent paychecks that drivers can control are not struggling to keep drivers like the other carriers.
Orientation is not signing paperwork and receiving job assignments. Orientation is rolling out the welcoming committee. Your drivers want to feel like they made the right choice when they join your company. Set aside time for them to discuss mutual expectations with their dispatchers and managers. Provide meaningful facetime with an executive. Software like the A-Suite pre-populate data entered in the DOT Application to your new driver paperwork so you can focus rolling out the welcoming committee.
When driver appreciation week rolls around this year, no doubt your drivers would be happy to know how much you value them. However, if you’re not taking the necessary steps every day to retain your best drivers, you’re missing the point. With turnover at all-time highs, you can’t afford to wait until September. Start with the three strategies we gave you here. Then, if you’re looking for more direction, check out our ebook “75 Strategies to Help Increase Driver Retention.” Some of the suggestions may surprise you, but then again, solving an industry-wide problem will take some out-of-the-box thinking.
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