By Marc Mayfield, Contributor
You can tie down your loads but you can’t tie down your drivers. However, with a little forethought, you might be able to keep the good ones feeling secure.
In a loose adaptation from the book “In The Driver’s Seat: Interstate Trucking, a Journey,” trucker/author Marc Mayfield offers these tips for keeping your operators satisfied:
1. Inform. As you roll out new policies and procedures, keep your drivers in the loop. Let them know that they’re not out there on their own and that they’re part of a team that includes managers, mechanics, secretaries and others.
2. Explain. Want to retain? Explain. Why the company’s trucks are speed-governed. Why drivers can’t drop loaded trailers at unsecured locations. How fuel routing benefits the bottom line. Why safety and compliance are more than words.
3. Share. Share corporate and personal news with your drivers. New trucks, new terminal locations, new accounts, and new employees are noteworthy. Maybe someone just had a baby. Maybe a son or daughter has received a scholarship or is serving in the armed forces.
4. Listen. Drivers aren’t often asked for their input, but they generally want to offer helpful suggestions on ways to improve customer service or employee relations. Don’t assume that they have nothing valuable to say or don’t care. Give them a chance to be heard.
5. Empathize and keep your promises. Want to lose a good driver? Don’t keep your word.
6. Reward. Got million-mile safe drivers? Let them know they’re appreciated. Put “safe driver” decals on their trucks. Post their pictures in company shops, office lobbies, lunchrooms, meeting areas, and drivers’ lounges. Send press releases to media outlets and local newspapers.
7. Respect. When a dispatcher tells drivers, “You just drive” (I have heard this), they know what it means: “You guys are like hand tools. We can always get a replacement if we break one.”
Trust me, drivers understand. They’ll churn away to other carriers, and they’ll be gone before you know it.
HR managers have a choice: perpetuate the driver shortages and recruit 24/7, or work to retain drivers they’ve screened, hired, and trained. Create satisfied team members. You won’t be able to drive them away.
Marc Mayfield drove 18-wheelers for 10 years and is an ATA Million-mile Safe Driver.
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You can tie down your loads but you can’t tie down your drivers. …