Driver retention is constantly on the minds of many trucking carrier executives. As COO of Stay Metrics (recently acquired by Tenstreet), I am always thinking about retention for our clients and how we can help them change culture so more drivers stay. Outside factors like the economy, the current COVID pandemic and driver availability will impact a carrier’s ability to retain drivers, but there are a number of factors within your control as well. While driver pay is certainly critical, there are other ways to increase commitment from your fleet. All carriers are different in their approach to driver satisfaction, commitment and retention, but I wanted to share some tips that can help across the trucking and transportation industry.
1: Get Driver Feedback!
Unless you have a small fleet with a robust open-door policy and engaged leaders at all levels regularly meeting with drivers, you need a process to formally get feedback on the driver experience. A robust and detailed surveying strategy that encompasses the entire driver lifecycle at your company can give you the information needed in a timely matter. Make sure drivers understand why you are asking for their input, where the surveys are coming from and how they will be distributed, and make a commitment to build their feedback into your planning and consideration process.
2: Openly Act on Driver Feedback!
Establish a process to receive, understand and act on driver feedback in a way that improves the driver experience in a material way. Driver retention will not improve unless something changes and most drivers, if they believe you are listening, will tell you what needs to change. Build a process for reviewing and considering driver feedback into your management, planning, metrics, and compensation systems. Ensure that ingesting the volume of feedback does not overrun your capacity to understand and act on the feedback in a timely manner. Make it crystal clear who has ownership of turning driver feedback into actionable strategy and policy changes. Communicate widely the changes and improvements that result. Showing drivers how their feedback has improved their experience will build trust and credibility and keep the feedback coming.
3: Closely Monitor Driver Pay!
Driver pay can no longer be treated like just another variable expense that can flex widely depending on the work available. Drivers, like office employees, need a minimum amount of pay to survive and their pay should consistently stay in an acceptable range for them to be satisfied and retained long term. Establish a process to monitor driver pay at the individual driver level and a process to recognize and address chronic shortfalls. Consistently monitor and evaluate your sales, marketing, pricing, dispatching and driver management systems to make sure all drivers are receiving the support they need. This is often the toughest nut to crack but will pay huge dividends if managed with excellence.
4: Address Driver Amenities
Carriers that supply the power unit to OTR drivers either as company drivers or on a lease purchase program should consider driver amenities as important as pay. The ability to use refrigeration and a microwave to eat healthier, room for storage, a comfortable mattress, temperature control and the ability for a team driver to sleep without blaring crash avoidance systems going off while parking are examples of what should be evaluated in a mission to provide drivers with the highest standard of living possible while on the road. Used units should be carefully detailed and all systems working properly before assignment and there should be a process to identify and escalate exceptions to this critical process. It is not home but it should be as close as possible.
5: Keep Your Promises
Look holistically at your driver experience and ask if you are keeping promises to drivers. From the driver’s point of view, promises are made by advertising, recruiters, orientation leads, driver managers and leadership throughout the entire organization. Next to not enough pay to survive, broken promises is the most toxic blow to retention. Recognizing the promises you make and how well you deliver on those promises flows through all these issues and is the bed rock of driver commitment. Study survey results, read text comments, look at online reviews of your company and talk to as many drivers and their teammates as possible to assess this one variable. From the driver’s perspective, are we a trustworthy company to drive for?
What strategies have worked for you for truck driver retention? We’d love to hear!
Jerry Scott serves as COO of Stay Metrics and relies on his deep trucking industry experience to help him understand our clients’ challenges. To speak with Jerry, you can email him at email@example.com. To learn more about the Stay Metrics’ suite of products now offered by Tenstreet, talk with us today.