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Holding on to Good Drivers – Retention Basics

lockers.jpgWithout good drivers our economy stops. Without good drivers your business stops. As a day-to-day recruiter, I have an arsenal of ideas and strategies to find the right drivers and keep seats filled. In our business, driver recruitment is a perpetual motion machine. Just like the freight we move, recruiting never stops.

Over the coming months, I will share with you some of the nuts and bolts of effective recruiting and a few things I do to find the best person to drive my company trucks. But before I go into all of that, I think it makes sense to talk about DRIVER RETENTION!

With a CDL, a year of experience, and a clean MVR there are thousands of jobs waiting for any driver. But let’s be real, it’s tough to ignore when your dispatch aggravates you or your truck breaks for the 3rd time in a month. Problems are unavoidable, everything mechanical breaks down at some point and occasionally people can be unpredictable. Throw into the mix all of the other variables of OTR life and driver turnover rates start to make a lot more sense.

Having a driver retention culture in place is a way to mitigate some of these problems. It also gives strength and backbone to your recruiting program. The best recruiters already have an uphill battle. Without the advantage of a retention oriented company, those recruiters have an impossible job.

Do you have unique runs?
Great bonuses?
Flexible home time?

As a company decision maker or fleet owner the 1st question that you have to ask is, “Why would a driver want to work for my company?” Having good equipment, competitive pay, and decent benefits are great but really, that’s baseline stuff. Any company looking for long-term quality drivers must have those three elements.

Do you have unique runs? Great bonuses? Flexible home time? Does your organization offer some type of additional structures support to your drivers? These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what you can offer.

Once you assess what makes your company a great place for drivers, the next thing is to determine whether your office staff knows what makes you unique and special from a driver’s perspective. Can everyone on your staff articulate these benefits? Some people are naturally better at this than others. You may have to educate them.

Whatever an employee’s core business function is, do they have a fundamental understanding that the task at hand primarily revolves around helping drivers do their jobs well? This may be a small tweak in perspective or a major leap, but its importance can be overstated. Having a staff that is geared toward driver solutions will go a long way in helping your drivers feel valued and respected for the professionals that they are.

Do your trucks have comfortable
seats and mattresses?

The last thing that I will touch on is driver comfort. This is a broad topic to say the least. Both unique benefits and office staff perspective fall under this umbrella. There is also an enormous range of things that can be addressed to increase the physical comfort of your drivers. Do your trucks have comfortable seats and mattresses? If a driver is at the terminal for a 10-hour or a PM, do they have easy access to a meal or a shower? Does your company have safety equipment of different sizes to comfortably fit any driver? Walk through your facilities and equipment with a sharp eye for driver comfort. If there are changes you can make to increase the psychological or physical comfort of your drivers then change them.

Freight is abundant. Equipment can be repaired or replaced. The human side of our business is increasingly fragile and variable. Driver recruitment is both an art and a science that I will be talking about more in the coming months. Deliberate retention efforts are the foundation of any effective recruiting program. I believe that small and midsize fleets that address this shift in perspective and make decisions with an eye toward driver retention will be best poised to move the freight of their choice.