It can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars to find and recruit a new truck driver for your company. Losing a driver to your competition can really effect your bottom line, so it makes sense to have an established fleet management plan to keep drivers where they belong: on your payroll.
Implementing an effective driver recruitment and retention strategy is just as important if you want to avoid experiencing driver shortage and turnover. Because every company is different, there is no one-size-fits-all template to reducing driver turnover. However, there are some tried and tested driver recruitment and retention strategies that you can use as a guideline when creating your plan.
1. Build a Driver Referral Program
Who better to recruit new talent for your company than your current roster of drivers? You can run ads in the newspaper, put up billboards, and try recruiting drives all you want…but nothing will ever be as effective as having your own team do the job for you. But there needs to be an incentive for them to do so.
The best drivers are already out there on the road, safely running freight for someone else. Your drivers are in contact with them regularly, and yes, drivers most certainly do talk to each other about the companies they work for. As part of your driver referral program:
- Give an immediate cash bonus when the new driver signs on
- Offer another cash bonus when the new driver completes the first 90 days
- For a long-term plan, add another bonus based on the new driver’s first year mileage
- Create recruiting business cards drivers can hand out
Some drivers balk at the idea of a referral program because they have a “more drivers means less work for me” mindset. Ensure your team that there is plenty of work to go around.
2. Shore Up Your Online Presence
Just about everyone these days looks for information on the internet. The fact of the matter is, a new website can be built for dirt cheap (about $100), so there’s no excuse not to have one.
Most company recruiters are researching potential employees online by looking at their Facebook and LinkedIn pages to determine if they would be a good fit. There’s no reason to believe that potential drivers aren’t doing the same thing when considering working for you.
What message are you sending online? Do you just have photos of your shiny trucks after a recent trip to the wash? Are you showing images of interaction between drivers and the company? Some applicants may pass you over if you skip the latter.
3. Create Awesome Marketing Materials
The biggest mistake companies make with their marketing is the “me-me-me mentality” by focusing on how great their company is. They talk about growth and awards and rarely focus on what really matters – the people.
No one wants to work for a stagnant company that isn’t going anywhere. It’s important that you establish the company’s success and reputation in your marketing materials, but don’t let that be the only thing. You have to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” After all, no driver is going to sign on and work for free based on how great your company is.
Don’t just showcase tangible items like pay and benefits. Be sure to mention your wellness programs, employee events, and time off. Highlight that you are a people-centered organization.
4. Provide Better Working Conditions for Drivers
It’s an epidemic in the transportation industry – drivers are always looking for greener pastures. However, if you include some quality of life improvements as part of your retention strategy, drivers are far less likely to stray.
- Safety, safety, safety – make sure your program is up to snuff
- Up-to-date equipment
- Properly maintained equipment
- Convenience items such as fridge in the cab and automatic snow chains
- Flexible hours
5. Avoid Burning Bridges
Drivers are going to leave. No matter how well your plan has been implemented, you’re going to lose good employees to your competitors. When it happens, don’t take it personally.
When a driver tenders his/her resignation, tell them that they are still welcome in your company should they decide to return. Make sure to update contact information in their personnel file and call them a few months down the road to see how things are going.
You may be surprised to learn that your former employee isn’t happy with their new company and wants to come back to work for you. That’s a difficult phone call for anyone to make – so make it for them.
6. Make Driver Wellness Part of Your Program
Life on the road is a difficult lifestyle and many truck drivers are not in the best physical condition. Smoking, sleep apnea, and obesity are just a few of the serious health problems that plague drivers.
Implementing a wellness program not only shows that you care, it’s also an investment in your most valuable asset – your employees. Not to mention, every $1 spent on wellness programs yields $6 in health care savings, which can have a significant effect on your bottom line.
7. Solicit Driver Feedback
Throwing money at problems isn’t always the answer. Open channels of feedback with your drivers and listen to what they have to say. Here are a few different ways:
- Suggestion box
- Advisory councils
- Driver meetings
- Online surveys and apps
Some ELD devices will allow you to send messages to drivers. Ask them about the company’s programs and what can be done to improve them.