Driver Retention - Plain and Simple

06/11/2015

Basic Guidelines for Reducing Driver Turnover

By Randy Seals, McLeod Software Customer Advocate

In my trucking career I’ve known tons of drivers. For many years part of my job was hiring drivers, and I never once encountered a driver who took the job with the intention of quitting. They want it to work. So if you want to keep them, here are some simple things you can do.

Provide them with good equipment.
Don’t expect your drivers to be thrilled about the job or take pride in your company if your equipment is in need of repair and unsafe. Make truck maintenance a priority, but don’t stop there. Truck driving is a grueling occupation, so think about their comfort too. Drivers who can count on driving safe, reliable, clean, and comfortable equipment are not eager to give it up.

Make sure they get home regularly.
Too many of us don’t fully appreciate the sacrifices drivers make by being away from home so much of the time. They miss birthdays, anniversaries, and a million other important family events. They can’t always get back quickly when an emergency occurs. It’s a tough life and that’s why you need to help your drivers get home regularly—especially when they need to be home.

Make them part of the team.
Drivers are on the front line. They know things no one else at the company knows, and yet too many times we forget to include them. Don’t make that mistake. Ask them for their opinions, get their advice, make use of their perspective, tap into their store of knowledge. Listening is half of it. The other half is talking to them. Explain your corporate goals, share information, bring them behind the curtain so that they understand the decisions that are being made and the changes that are occurring.

Get everyone involved in driver retention.
People throughout the business may have contact with drivers, and every encounter is an opportunity to promote driver retention. Educate everyone in the company about the challenges that drivers face and the policies that are in place to support them. For example, make sure the maintenance crew understands that properly maintained equipment is not just about avoiding breakdowns and losing points on safety inspections. It’s also about supporting the drivers.

Give them the miles they need.
Drivers are trying to make a living, so keep your side of the bargain and make sure you’re providing your drivers with enough work to earn the income they need. This won’t be the same for every driver, so make a point of finding out what each driver wants and do your best to meet those requests.

Treat them with respect.
Drivers are often treated as an insignificant cog in the works, but not a single piece of freight gets delivered without a driver. Drivers are just like you and me. They want to be treated with respect. They lead a lonely life out on the road, so it may help to give them reminders that they are valued members of the enterprise. Send them birthday greetings, learn about their families, find out what their interests are, and just make a point of communicating, not by text or mobile comm, but on the phone and in person. Regular attention in this way can be the difference between retaining or losing a driver.

Show them the money.
Money matters to everyone, including drivers. If your company is growing, if you’re adding trucks and hiring new drivers, if the top management is driving expensive new cars, the drivers can see what’s going on. Don’t expect them to be thrilled by a small increase in pay. Share the wealth. If you don’t, don’t be surprised when they switch to another company that understands that driver pay is one of the top priorities.

Don’t ever forget that your business won’t run without your drivers. Treat them well and the best ones will stay with you.

 

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