Drivers are becoming more and more of a scarce resource. The key to scaling your transportation business is having the capacity to meet customer demands. Driver retention is key! The more capacity the more volume you can handle. However, the recent ELD mandate has further created a capacity crunch on top of the already 60k driver shortage.
Driver retention is more important than ever and the carriers that do it the best will grow the most and enjoy the best margins. The question is, “how do you retain more drivers?”
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: The foundation of any good relationship is good communication. Just ask your spouse. Carriers that fail to communicate the right things, in the right way to drivers, are asking for a breakdown in relationship with drivers. Working to keep drivers informed is important, but it goes beyond that. Once a year driver appreciation events and every now and again newsletters only do so much. Drivers are use to these types of communication and it has lost its luster. Here are some other things to consider:
- Open Door policies are effective and genuine: When drivers are heard they feel like they matter. If owners and high level management have a willingness to speak to drivers and connect, drivers will develop a greater sense of loyalty. Management does not have to speak with every driver, take the time with a few and drivers will talk.
- Focus on the 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 higher driver retention. Weekly or monthly training meetings for dispatchers are helpful. Also, getting feedback from dispatchers on what is working or not working.
- Personal handwritten notes: Handwritten notes to drivers for joining the team, hitting objectives, milestones, or going over and beyond makes the communication much more personal creating connection for your drivers.
- Deep Dives: This can be like account planning with your customers. Much like your customers, you should also 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 do, but understanding what is important to your drivers will help you make better decisions in how and what you communicate.