One of the keys to driver retention that is too often missed is to make drivers feel important—because they are.
If your new drivers have made it through orientation, how do you keep them happy from here on out? Too often, drivers report feeling like numbers—nameless “steering-wheel holders.” And, when they feel that way, the chances that they’ll feel loyal to your company are nil. That’s why Kelly Anderson, the trucking consultant known as “The Undercover Trucker,” reinforces the importance of building personal connections and demonstrating that drivers matter in real, tangible ways.
And, he has some simple ideas for doing just that:
Take pressure off your drivers
A life behind the wheel isn’t sunshine and daisies. So, consider the ways you might ease your drivers’ workloads, Anderson says.
A&M Transport in Oregon is one great example of a company that lends a helping hand. How so? They meet their drivers at the fuel island as they pull into the yard. While drivers discuss mechanical issues, the company fuels their trucks for them. Then, they drop their trailers and park their trucks (or get them sent in for repairs, if necessary), so the drivers can call it a day. When drivers come back the next day, their trucks are hooked up to their loads and their paperwork is waiting in their cabs.
These small gestures can help drivers who might otherwise feel isolated on the road to feel supported and appreciated by your team.
Keep phone lines open for driver support
Early in orientation, it’s crucial that dispatchers establish clear communication protocols, so they can be available when drivers need help most.
Anderson recommends all circle of service and regular trucking communications be delivered via satellite communications, while phone lines are kept open for drivers experiencing problems on the road.
With these rules in place, dispatchers are both freed from clerical functions and able to troubleshoot issues in a more timely manner—giving your drivers confidence that your team is always there, ready and willing to help.
Acknowledge and appreciate your drivers with simple gestures
Remember those driver/dispatcher meetings during orientation?
With insight into important dates and driver preferences, your dispatchers are equipped to demonstrate their appreciation in ways that are most meaningful, says Anderson. For example, they can send drivers a gift card on their birthdays or anniversaries—and tell them to enjoy dinner at their favorite restaurant on the company. They can write quick thank you notes for going above-and-beyond and leave them on the seat of their trucks—along with their favorite snacks.
For ideas, see our Driver Appreciation Week contest winners’ ideas here.
Are you a larger fleet?
Consider setting-up a concierge service in your drivers’ lounge, staffed by someone who can greet drivers as they arrive, share a kind word, and offer them coffee, soda, water, or a snack.
If you’re a small fleet, you may not have the resources to offer concierge service, but you can keep a fridge stocked with your drivers’ favorite drinks. Make sure they know it’s available as a token of your appreciation.
These simple gestures demonstrate that you see your drivers as people, not numbers, Anderson says—and that you value and celebrate their hard work.
Positive, supportive relationships are the key to driver retention
Keeping drivers in your trucks—it’s a challenge that confronts trucking companies everywhere. Yet, the answer is really pretty simple: Invest in positive, productive relationships with your drivers.
You’ll find that when you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.
Want more tips for driver retention? Download our report on improving driver retention now. Or visit our Driver Retention Resource Center for more tips and resources.