Co-founder and president of TruckRight, KAT Media and Kupar Professional Services
Perspective: Retaining Drivers Is About Commitment
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So, you’ve hired a truck driver. Now how do you retain them over the long haul?
A few key organizational commitments can keep you true to yourself, true to your company’s values, and true to your team.
Commit to a Strong, Authentic Brand
It starts from the very beginning. The way potential drivers perceive your company starts before you ever speak to them. It begins through word-of-mouth, your advertising and social media presence, your job postings and your online reviews and ratings.
Think of it as projecting your company culture outward, and making it obvious to candidates what it’s like to work for you.
Reflect on your job postings and how you’re framing them to drivers. Are you putting your best foot forward to entice them? Are your values and culture represented well? Are these things coming across clearly early in the posting so that they don’t have to scroll? By letting drivers know about more than just the job, but what it’s like to work for you and your company, you’ll build a strong understanding with them right from the get-go, and pull in the kinds of candidates who will stick around.
This approach should extend to all your marketing efforts, because those are going to be the earliest touchpoints for most drivers, and first impressions really do matter.
Commit to Celebrating Your Drivers, Consistently
A couple of months ago, we celebrated Truck Driver Appreciation Week and Day, and this type of recognition is important. But is your company showing appreciation to your drivers every day? That’s a practical way to consistently set yourself apart from other fleets.
In my many years working within this industry and traveling to visit clients, I’ve seen some companies excel at this aspect while others struggle. Fleets will often highlight a star driver or two, but that can make everybody else feel second in comparison.
To make a real impact, think about how you can make every driver feel like a star.
This can admittedly be difficult. Especially with over-the-road drivers, there are often very few touchpoints, so instilling your culture and showing appreciation consistently isn’t easy. But it can be done, and done well.
As an example: one client of ours had the asphalt painted red leading up to their shop (like a red carpet) to let drivers know how important they are. Another serves up burgers and hot dogs weekly where drivers most often congregate.
Committing to small, consistent things like this can go a long way to helping your retention efforts with drivers, maintenance staff and office staff, too. It could even be as simple as a sign at the gate saying “welcome home,” “have a great journey” or “thank you.”
Commit to Your Company’s Culture
You need to cement an authentic, compelling culture for your drivers and staff.
Start by considering the type of culture you want within your organization. Look inward at yourself and your own values. To do this you need to look at who you are as both a person and as an employer. Are you accountable? Creative? Compassionate? Collaborative? Family-first? Determined? Humorous? Overall, do you offer a well-adjusted environment that is welcoming and safe?
Whatever values you’d like to build your culture around, make sure they’re authentic, consistent and conveyed daily to those who work with you.
Some fleets may have a retention manager, and feel the onus is on that person to keep drivers happy. While it may be easy to put it all on one person, committing to your drivers is an “every role and every position” responsibility, especially across your leadership team. That will create cultural buy-in across your entire team from the moment they walk in the door.
You can’t fake culture. That’s what makes it culture. And it starts from the top down, from the founder or figurehead, through the leadership team, to the drivers, to the mechanics and the office staff.
Once you’ve made these commitments, it’s important to create a consistent experience over the long haul. A consistent experience that everyone can count on, from the first touchpoint they have with you until the day they retire, will keep them committed to you and your fleet.
In the end, retention is all about commitment. And that goes both ways.
Dirk Kupar is co-founder and president of TruckRight, KAT Media and Kupar Professional Services.
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