There was already a driver shortage before COVID-19. Then the pandemic hit, pushing the demand for delivery services even higher. Now, with the economy quickly recovering, businesses are ramping back up, requiring the employment of even more drivers. That’s why now, more than ever, retaining the drivers you currently employ is absolutely necessary to remain successful in your industry. But in such a competitive and volatile market, how can you ensure drivers’ genuine allegiance to your company? Here are 8 of Commercial Truck Trader’s tips for growing driver loyalty:
1. Clearly Communicate
No one likes to feel uncertain about their job or their future. Open communication is the best way to reduce that anxiety because it keeps drivers up-to-date on all things related to their work, lets them know they are not forgotten by management, and lays the groundwork for building personal relationships that foster loyalty. When training new employees, clearly communicate company expectations, such as productivity, safety, timeliness, and fuel efficiency.
After onboarding, keep in regular contact with all of your drivers. Have an official meeting with drivers at least once a month to make sure everyone is on the same page and to get their feedback. However, you should communicate with employees not only for work updates, but also to check-in on how they’re doing personally. Beyond official monthly meetings, quickly check-in with each driver weekly, via phone-call, live video chat, or a face-to-face meet-up when they’re not on the road. Just a few minutes of contact each week can go a long way to boosting driver loyalty.
2. Seek Out Driver Feedback
Drivers are certain to have opinions about their employment, and are likely to talk among their peers, but how many get the chance to share their honest feedback with their carrier? Drivers should be able to easily provide feedback about the job — whether in-person or online — and you should specifically ask them to provide those insights, making it into a regular part of the job instead of something considered taboo. Be prepared to receive both positive and negative feedback, and prepared to actually make changes based on that feedback. When managers hear and respond to drivers, they’ll feel valued as an important part of the team.
Additionally, don’t forget to conduct an exit interview when a driver leaves the company. A well-structured offboarding process allows you to tie up loose ends and to request their feedback about what it was like to work for the business. Ask them about training, being a new employee, transitioning to veteran status, and any other relevant part of their time with the business. Being able to evaluate a full employment cycle will provide valuable insights for improving your company’s driver experience and encouraging the loyalty of the drivers that remain with the fleet.
3. Keep Your Commitments
This one is simple: if you say you are going to do something, you need to do it. Benefits that were advertised with the position need to be provided without surprise strings attached. And as much as telling your drivers you care about them is important, actions speak louder than words. Taking driver feedback and making real changes that they can see and benefit from will do wonders for your credibility and for their sense of trust in the company. When drivers point out real problems or make good recommendations, take action and then communicate to the rest of the fleet that the positive change was the direct result of feedback from one of their peers.
4. Offer Better (& Faster) Pay
The main reason almost anyone has a job is for the paycheck, and rightly so since reliable income is how people survive and provide for their families. Drivers will be loyal to employers who help them take care of those they love through competitive pay, benefits, and bonuses. One way to show drivers you care is by making sure they’re paid in a timely manner. Many carriers don’t hand out checks for 30 to 60 days. Modernize your systems so that you can quickly — and perhaps digitally — pay drives so that they can more immediately and easily access the funds they’ve earned.
5. Provide Up-to-Date Technology
By making sure your drivers have high-quality vehicles and tools, you enable them to reduce downtime, complete more deliveries, and move on to the next job, benefiting them and the company. For example, mobile scanning lets drivers quickly scan and submit documents during a delivery. Drivers, who spend hours and sometimes days at a time in the cab, will also appreciate trucks and vans equipped to keep them safe and comfortable. Consider providing drivers with features like ergonomic seats, insulated cabs, dash-cams, navigation systems, or even a new TV for their sleeping quarters.
6. Meet Your Drivers’ Needs
Your drivers are real people with their own lives and their own needs. Catering to drivers’ needs however you can is a great way to strengthen the bonds of loyalty. Maximizing time at home will always matter to drivers, as will optimizing their schedules, routes, and loads. Try to give drivers consistent, predictable time off — such as guaranteeing the same days off each week, or having one full week off following three weeks of being on the road — which lets them better plan time with family and friends.
Other ways to meet drivers’ needs include paid time off (PTO), personal development and career advancement opportunities, equipment to make the job easier, no-touch freight, or allowing them to take the truck home. If drivers are lonely, consider introducing a spouse or pet program so they can have companionship in the cab. Finally, you can invest in your drivers’ health by offering on-site gyms, in-cab workout tools like resistance bands, nutrition programs, and free health screenings.
7. Provide Coaching & Mentorship
New drivers need guidance, and even experienced truckers new to the company could use a helping hand to get acquainted with different policies at a new fleet. You can smooth the transition and help ensure that drivers are operating safely and efficiently via coaching and mentorship programs. Veteran drivers with your business can offer new drivers advice, answer their questions, and serve as a trusted non-managerial point-of-contact. Coaches and mentors also form real relationships with the drivers they mentor, helping to strengthen personal, loyal connections with the fleet.
8. Evaluate, Recognize, & Reward Fairly
With so many driver performance metrics available, be sure that you are measuring the behaviors that are most important to you and your company and applying those standards equally to all drivers. Whether it’s consecutive collision-free days, minimal idling, coaching results, reduced following distance, or positive customer reviews, publicly celebrate employees’ successes and offer meaningful rewards for meeting big milestones. When drivers receive recognition, they’ll learn that they are valued as an individual and will feel a closer connection to the company.
Conclusion: Drivers are the most valuable asset to any fleet, and retaining drivers by fostering a sense of loyalty to the business is essential during the ongoing driver shortage. Use the above tips to help foster a sense of trust with your drivers and retain them for years to come. And if you’re looking for a new truck or van, check out all the inventory listed for-sale nationwide on CommercialTruckTrader.com or on our sister site NextTruckOnline.com.