For years, fleet-driven businesses have watched as the pool of available drivers continues to shrink. The shortage is caused by a number of factors, everything from younger workers coming into the industry at a lower rate than older drivers are leaving, the amplifying impact of COVID-19 and the struggle to improve driver retention rates.
If your business depends on drivers to deliver products or services, this trend can be crippling. Not only is finding new drivers a challenge – recruiting and training is expensive. It makes retaining current drivers critical to keeping an efficient fleet on the road.
7 Ways to Improve Driver Retention Rates
Here are seven ways you can increase driver satisfaction and, ultimately, improve driver retention – to keep your fleet fully staffed and productive.
1. Reduce the Daily Paperwork Burden
Like everyone, your drivers want to experience efficient and productive workdays. If you’re still burdening them with paper-based processes like daily inspections, you can streamline your operation and improve driver satisfaction by switching to digital inspections and reporting.
Customize the forms to your exact vehicle protocols and the driver’s workflow to make it fast, easy and accurate. You’ll get real-time reporting to know the task is completed correctly, and your drivers get more time to focus on the road and customer experience.
Pro Tip: In addition to the ‘hassle’ aspect of paperwork, paper-based processes contribute to delayed or inaccurate/incomplete reporting – which increases risk and the chance of making decisions that lead to unwanted outcomes. Automate and simplify wherever possible.
2. Show More Appreciation to Boost Driver Retention
“They don’t appreciate me” is often given as the reason for employee separation in all walks of life, and drivers are no exception. There are a number of actions you can take to turn this around:
- Add an award program based on outstanding performance on scorecard metrics.
- Regularly make time to ask drivers how they’re doing.
- Ask for feedback on ways you can help your drivers do their job better.
We often hear our customers say that they’ve picked up best practices that can be implemented across their fleet when they have an open communication loop with drivers. And when you listen – and act on driver feedback – you send the message: you’re valued.
Pro Tip: Communication forums like employee meetings are great, but effective communication channels need to be in place outside of meetings, too. Dispatch, for example, frequently communicates with your drivers, and is often the voice of the company. According to FleetOwner, of the 13 turnover predictors, seven were related to sour relations with the dispatcher. Improve the interaction between dispatch and drivers, and you’ll increase driver satisfaction – and improve driver retention.
3. Retain Drivers with Perks and Benefits
Little perks can make a big difference in satisfaction and driver retention. If you can’t outspend the big players in terms of health, dental, vision, 401K match, and other traditional benefits, look for other ways to make drivers feel like the kings (or queens) they are.
Things like a free or discounted membership to the gym or warehouse club can set you apart from the competition. Can you offer floating days off, or allow workers to drive their vehicle home? If yes, let them know your policy and all that it covers – like mileage and fuel, and that telematics document all uses of the vehicle . . . on and off the job.
Pro Tip: What you offer in terms of benefits will contribute to the view of how your company values employees. Can you provide loyalty benefits that increase with the length of service? Can you partner with hotel or restaurant chains for discounts?
4. Provide a Professional Development Program
Some drivers will always be road warriors. Others want opportunities to jump on a management track when they’re ready to get off the road. Offer a professional development plan to keep your drivers engaged. Offer continuing training to build skill and confidence on the road – giving your drivers more peace of mind and increasing safety for your business – as well as opportunities to build supervisory and leadership skills.
Pro Tip: Professional development programs, online continuing education, and cross-training enhance skills and create job security and life fulfillment, not just job fulfillment. Many drivers are looking for endorsements or additional certifications to qualify for more advanced, specialized work.
5. Develop a Driver Referral Program
Your happy drivers are your best recruiters. If you don’t have one already, a referral program should offer a nice bonus for anyone who refers in a safe driver. Create a flyer or card that drivers can hand out when they’re at a truck stop or are waiting in a receiving area.
Pro Tip: Be specific about the requirements – in terms of skills, experience and certifications – for your recruiting, and share the details with your current drivers so they can be effective in their search for referral candidates. Also be transparent about terms of your referral bonus payout so drivers have clear expectations.
6. Protect your Drivers Against False Claims
When an accident occurs, commercial vehicles are easy to blame targets. And studies show that as much as 80% of claims against commercial drivers are false. While drivers are often initially hesitant about video telematics and having a camera in the cab, they’ll soon come to see that dash camera video can be their best companion on the road. It provides evidence to exonerate them from wrongful charges and false claims. In fact, we hear from customers that when an incident happens, drivers are the first to ask to pull up the video to prove their innocence.
Pro Tip: Choose a dash camera solution with artificial intelligence capabilities. AI video dash cameras identify hard-to-detect behaviors like smoking, phone use, following too close, lane departure and more. You’ll keep your drivers safe by reducing accidents – and show you’ve got their back while also protecting your business.
7. Provide Safe, Well-Maintained Equipment
When you consider the cost of driver turnover, keeping your fleet up to date takes on a new level of importance. Like most people, drivers take pride in their ride, especially when it offers greater safety and comfort, and even a few new bells and whistles. Also, sticking to a preventative maintenance program based on actual mileage and proactively resolving engine diagnostic codes and other alerts helps prevent breakdowns, keeping drivers safer and more productive.
Pro Tip: According to a PDA driver survey, 70% of drivers believe that the condition of their truck at assignment is an indication of how important the company feels about them as a driver. First Truck = First Impression. Show your drivers they’re an important part of the organization by keeping equipment clean and well maintained.
Put these tips into action, and you’ll find it easier to retain your current drivers and even grow your team. And to make your planning even easier, you can download an eBook with all of these tips.