How to retain drivers? That’s the never-ending question. Now, with driver numbers falling nationwide and driver turnover rate still way too high, keeping good drivers is more critical than ever. Often, the best way to come at an old problem is with an out-of-the box solution. All the old methods of driver retention may be tried and true, but you’ve got to do something more to stay in the game.
Start thinking about your drivers like you do your customers. That sounds backwards, but hear us out. Drivers are a scarce resource, and good drivers are even harder to find. Most carriers do a good job of recruiting drivers. They use sales tactics and make promises of benefits, competitive pay, and other things to get drivers in the door. But many carriers stop there. If you had a customer who came to you on the promise of great deals, but only got those deals once and then got the joe schmoe price afterward, would they stick with you or shop somewhere else? Instead of looking at drivers like a resource to get and hold on to until it slips away, think of them like a customer you want to keep happy. Happy customers keep buying and build loyalty. Happy drivers stay loyal and show their worth in consistency and reduced risk.
In the sales world, customer retention is at the forefront of every interaction. Which begs the question: how do you consistently sell to your drivers? Here are some tactics that make sales organizations successful that you should consider adopting for your driver retention efforts.
Sales Training for Ops – Train your operations people how to sell. Dispatch, payroll, or anyone else that interacts with drivers should have some basic understanding of sales. Knowing how to ask the right questions and communicate value to drivers is a way to consistently “re-close the sale” during driver interactions. This is not a one-time event. Developing a sales culture for your staff is key to making this stick. Consider getting your sales leader involved for help. You can also hire a sales trainer/consultant to help lay out a training plan specifically for your business.
Account Planning – In sales management, “account planning” means developing the strategic blueprint for growing a customer account. This means sitting down with your customers on a quarterly or annual basis to understand what their needs and goals are going forward. Then you create more value and “stickiness” by meeting those needs and goals. Each meeting becomes a review of how it is going, discussing the metrics and what should change. In return, you can charge a higher price and experience a better Return on Investment. This is a great exercise to do with drivers. Here are few things to explore with your drivers:
- How much money do they want to make? How many miles/loads to get there?
- What are their pain points? AKA when do they find themselves in crisis mode?
- What does the work/life balance look like for them?
- What kinds of routes do they prefer? Geotarget, length of haul?
- What kind of benefits do they want? Health, dental, vision, 401k, legal, etc.?
- What are they seeing/hearing from other carriers? You are competing with other carriers, so understand what you’re up against.
- What else is important to them?
Ongoing Sales Engagement – Finding ways to stay in front of your drivers and engage with them on an ongoing basis is extremely important to keep connected. Here are some ideas:
- Put on driver appreciation events more than once a year.
- Be VERY active on social media. Facebook and Instagram are big with drivers. Come up with a creative contest just for these channels. Outsource or hire a social media guru to help. Get your internal staff involved as well.
- Stay in front of your drivers with positive information. Tell them about the new exciting news.
- Survey your drivers about their experience. Let them know the results and what you learned.
Applying these tactics from the world of sales isn’t going to fix everything about the industry or completely solve the problem of driver retention. But it should give you some new perspective on how to keep drivers working for you instead of going over to your competitors. Of course, keeping drivers in your fleet isn’t just about keeping them happy. It’s also about keeping their record (and yours) as clean as possible. CDL Legal is geared to protect drivers’ MVRs and your CSA score so you can have the stability to grow your bottom line. Contact us to learn more.