It is less time consuming (and cheaper) to keep an existing customer than to get a new one.

With the driver shortage well upon us, the same thinking can be translated to Drivers. Now is not the time to be losing drivers, because the effort required to attract a replacement, never mind training, inductions and uniforms is going to be far worse than managing your way through the current issue.

Surveys have shown that the happiest employees have an ongoing sense of:

1.    Control over their own work

As a truck driver this is the main part of your job – so as an employer you already have this covered and you can read on the next one…

2.    Wanting to keep improving at what they do

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s probably easier to tell a truck driver that he is no good in bed than to tell him he isn’t driving his truck properly. If you asked each of your drivers how good they are at driving, most, if not all, will tell you in their own words that they are somewhere between ‘better than average’ and ‘the best.’ But how can all of your drivers be better than average when some are better than others and average is somewhere in the middle of that pack?

Drivers tell you how great they are because they have no way of knowing what is “great” what is “OK” and what is “rubbish” in the driving skills department. Following on from the point above – drivers spend almost all of their time alone so they have nothing to compare themselves to. As a boss it is your job to find a way to show them what you expect from your best drivers, and how each driver compares to that standard. If you set the rules and consistently encourage each driver to work towards achieving the standard, getting a little bit better all of the time, you can tick off this point too.

3.    Understanding how their job supports the company goals

Personally, I quit my job working for a corporate organisation in the UK when I could no longer draw a line between the crazy rules I had to follow and the seemingly inconsequential projects I was asked to do, and the success of the company as a whole. If your drivers believe that it doesn’t matter how they drive their truck so long as they get from A to B eventually, you are already half way to losing them. Of course it matters how they drive their truck – they are mobile advertising for your company, they could be a statistic waiting to happen resulting in the destruction of your customer’s freight, they could be driving up the cost of running their truck at the expense of the only profit you were going to make that day / week / month. The way your drivers drive your trucks affects your profitability and neither you, nor they, should ever forget it.

Like many in this industry, I’m not a natural people manager, and this time last year I put myself through a leadership course. The message from the course was simple;

  • Know what you expect from your staff, (and tell them!)
  • be seen to monitor their performance against those expectations
  • provide feedback, both when things are going well AND when they are not.
  • Staff will test us, sometime unintentionally, and our role as managers is to provide clear and consistent guidance.

Now, we are all busy, so the trick for all of us is to manage our time, set priorities and to make the best use of technology to get the job done well, with as little paperwork and clutter as possible.

In the stats published before Christmas, 61% of truck crashes were shown to be caused by speed, failure to give way and inattention. The data you collect from your trucks tells you which of your drivers are in the danger category. You probably already know who those drivers are, but now you can SHOW them how they can improve, rather than telling them you THINK they are an accident waiting to happen.

Our customers’ biggest successes have come from providing consistent feedback to drivers and other managers at regular intervals. Taking about an hour out of the month to make sure the drivers get the right feedback more than covers the inconvenience of finding 60 minutes in each month to make the effort. With this feedback, the driver feels as though he is a part of the company, why his role is important (point 3 above) and how to get better at what he does (point 2 above).

Work with your drivers to meet the three rules of staff happiness listed above to retain your existing drivers. When drivers enjoy working for you, word gets around, and recruitment becomes easier, no -not easy, but easier.

Because your profit matters.

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