What to do about driver retention? It’s a problem across the industry that’s not going away any time soon. And it’s a problem that affects the rest of a carrier’s systems and its bottom line. In this high-stakes game of capture-the-driver, how can your company hold onto good drivers while other companies lose theirs?
It’s all about communication. Gurus and moms have been saying it for ages: the foundation of any good relationship is good communication. (There’s something to be said for respect too, but that’s another post). But what makes communication “good?” Not volume, that’s for sure. And not amount, either. Drivers are used to getting talked to. No quarterly newsletter or yearly “Driver Appreciation Picnic” is going to make you stand out from the norm.
Here are some unique communication ideas to consider:
- Open Door Policy: When drivers feel heard, then they feel like they matter. If owners and high-level management are willing to speak to drivers any time, drivers will develop a greater sense of loyalty. This is not an assembly line of one-off meetings. It’s just a policy of genuine interest in what drivers have to say and making time to hear them out.
- Focus on Dispatcher/Driver Relationships: Creating a training culture with your dispatchers in how they communicate and work with drivers is key to retention. The better your front-line people connect with drivers, the more those drivers will want to work with your company. Weekly or monthly training meetings for dispatchers are helpful. Also, getting feedback from dispatchers on what is working or not working.
- Personal Handwritten Notes: It seems a little odd, and maybe way too old-school. But handwritten notes say way more today than they used to, now that electronic communication is easier and widely used instead. A personal, handwritten piece of mail or delivered note communicates way more than what’s written on it. It says, “I find you important enough to take time and do this myself.” That’s powerful. You can write to drivers who join the team, hit objectives or milestones, and keep their inspections maintenance-free.
- Deep Dive Meetings: This can be like a sales team doing account planning with customers. Much like your customers, you should want to know what makes your drivers tick and how you can help each one of them reach their goals. If they do not have goals, this is also a good exercise in helping them to establish goals. Doing a deep dive with drivers might be hard to schedule and difficult to work through, but understanding what is important to your drivers will help you make better decisions in how and what you communicate.
Of course, we can’t complete a post about driver retention without talking about driver records. Every day, carriers lose drivers because of license suspensions or must fire them because of heightened CSA risk. CDL Legal protects drivers from tickets and DOT inspections. Our team can directly help your driver retention by mitigating the risk factor and keeping drivers on the road legally. If your drivers need help protecting their CDLs and you need help with your CSA score, please contact us for more info on how we can help.