Finding good drivers and keeping them on board has always been a
challenge. Nevertheless, there are things that can be done to better deal
with this continual struggle.
A good starting point is to determine the appropriate
qualities, skills and competencies that make for successful drivers in your
operation. Make sure your recruiting people are trained and that you have
in place formal systematic recruitment procedures and selection techniques.
Too many companies use informal methods, and these are not effective.
The best recruiters usually are people who come out of
fleet operations because they know what the driving job is really like. The
better recruiters are at doing their job, the better they will be able to
select drivers who are a good personal fit to your operation and will be an
Methods for getting prospective drivers to call your
company include: ads in newspapers and driver publications, your Web site,
online driver recruiting services, employment agencies and word-of-mouth
recruitment from your drivers and other employees. The key to improving the
quality of calls received is carefully worded advertising.
The recruiting process is a driver’s first
contact with your organization. Drivers like a company that responds
quickly to their concerns and needs. Moreover, moving qualified drivers
rapidly through your screening, application and job-offer process helps
ensure that your company won’t lose a good driver to a competitor.
Breaking them in
Orientation of new drivers is too often viewed as a
necessary evil. It is an important step in the driver retention process.
Orientation needs to take a positive approach, with drivers made to feel
wanted and needed. It should also provide drivers with a true picture of
what it is really like to work for your company.
Orientation is a good opportunity for training and
providing new drivers with the tools, information, policies and procedures
they will need to succeed. Since most drivers are typically not
classroom learners, it is best to do hands-on training with the equipment
and paperwork they will be using.
Experience has found that a new driver’s first
30 days with a company are critical. If they don’t go well, you may
lose a driver before you have recouped your investment in hiring him.
It’s a good idea to find something positive to
say about a driver during his first 30 days, as well as at regular
intervals thereafter. Drivers, like everyone else, appreciate a kind word.
Too many drivers say they hear from management only when they screw up.
Never assume that your drivers — new or
“old” — know you appreciate the job they do. Sincere
“attaboys” can work wonders for driver morale and job
So, too, does treating drivers as professionals and as
integral members of your team. Provide them with safe and comfortable
driver areas. Make training materials and resources available.
Be in touch
Open communication to management is another key
element to retaining drivers. How easy is it for your drivers to get access
to a manger to discuss a problem, concern or frustration?
Beyond that, drivers’ observations, suggestions
and opinions can be very valuable. They are the
ones dealing with customers every day. Get drivers involved. Ask them for
their ideas, listen and act on them.
Don’t wait for drivers to come to you. Bring
them in on a regular basis in small groups for “chat sessions.”
Drivers want to know what’s going on in the company and they want to
feel that their input is welcomed and appreciated.
Drivers who are treated as valuable individuals and
are made to feel a part of your organization will be more likely to stay. A
“happy” driver is a more productive driver and may be a good
recruiting tool for you while out on his rounds.
Obviously, good pay and benefits are important, but so
is the equipment drivers will be operating. Consequently, selection and
specifications of vehicles for enhanced driver
comfort and convenience features, as well as improved performance, economy
and serviceability, takes on greater significance. Driver comfort and
alertness translate into driver contentment and productivity. Among
Cab interiors that are quiet, comfortable, easy to clean
and able to withstand the wear and tear of drivers constantly getting in
Suspensions that provide reduced vibration and a
smoother, softer ride.
Quantity and placement of grab handles and deep, wide,
non-slip steps for easier, safer cab ingress and egress.
Door openings that are wide, safe and secure.
Built-in radio/CD/cassette player. This avoids
having drivers provide their own audio equipment which could be a safety
hazard if not secured.
Specs for increased driver safety (back-up alarms, rear-
and side-facing radar, large and wide-angle convex mirrors, etc.).
Cabover or conventional? Each offers certain advantages
in terms of visibility (forward and side), cab size, wheelbase,
maneuverability, driver access, under-cab space for chassis components,
The better your organization becomes at
“selling” your company to potential drivers, the more selective
you can be in the drivers you hire. You will save time, resources and money
as driver turnover is expensive. And a lower driver turnover rate may help
reduce the rate of growth in insurance premiums.
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