Apr 1, 2008 12:00 PM, David A Kolman
To remain competitive and profitable, companies involved in temperature-controlled distribution must have effective strategies for attracting and retaining quality. This challenge has become all the more formidable because of a marketplace environment that is increasingly competitive on all fronts.
High turnover, along with the challenge of attracting new drivers, costs companies extra time, resources, and management capacity. That, in turn, creates increased operating expenses due to greater recruiting costs, and excess paperwork, drug tests, and physical examinations caused by new drivers constantly being added. These additional costs are difficult to pass on to customers.
Some companies hire drivers with questionable qualifications. This is never a good practice, as it can lead to increased accidents, drivers not reporting for work, abandoned trucks, and lowered morale among other drivers. All of which can cause problems with shippers and receivers.
Drivers can either enhance or tarnish a company's relationship with customers. Cost-savings and profitable growth opportunities come from stable long-term relationships with customers.
Success in attracting and retaining quality drivers begins with understanding why drivers leave a company to go to another.
Low pay, challenging work, long hours, and insufficient time home are typically cited as the chief reasons why drivers leave. If that is true, why do many drivers leave one trucking job for another, usually one that offers the same level of pay, work, and home time?
So why do drivers choose to leave? In their efforts to answer this question, more companies are finding that involving drivers in decisions that affect them, treating them with respect and as important members of the organization, and recognizing their contributions and efforts leads to increased productivity and lowered costs.
What are your drivers' attitudes toward management? Do drivers feel managers care about their welfare? Do managers give drivers opportunities to achieve things of significance?
How do your dispatchers and driver managers treat drivers? Their relationships with drivers should benefit a company, but dispatchers and driver managers may lack supervisory training and skills.
If drivers don't feel they are treated right, or that no one in the company is really interested in their well-being, even small irritants become a reason to leave.
Another essential element to retaining drivers is open communications with managers. The more successful trucking companies have come to realize that drivers' observations, suggestions, and opinions can be very beneficial. After all, drivers deal with customers, incidents, and situations every day.
Successful trucking operations get their drivers involved. They ask for their ideas, listen, and act on them. Drivers' contributions can be beneficial.
These companies don't wait for drivers to come to them. They bring drivers on a regular basis in small groups for “chat sessions.”
Drivers want to know what's going on within their company, and they want to feel that their input is welcomed and appreciated.
Treat drivers as valuable individuals and make them feel a part of the organization, and they will be more likely to stay.
Not only that, but drivers who are committed to their job and company are more willing to work beyond their duties. Greater effort produces an increase in individual performance, and that positively impacts a company's bottom line.
Further, a “happy” driver may be a good recruiting tool for the company while out on his rounds.
I welcome your thoughts and comments.
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