Most of the trucking companies that I deal with regularly tell me that there is a truck driver shortage. But when I question them further about this, they quickly admit that it is not a driver shortage but a shortage of quality drivers. They usually have more than enough applications to fill all their trucks but in most cases, the drivers either have a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) that is unacceptable, or they don’t yet have the experience that the carrier requires.
So how do you get quality people to apply? How do you get quality drivers to work for you? The answer is easy but the solution is hard.
The easy answer is to make your company a place where quality drivers want to be employed! See, I told you the answer was easy but how do you do it? How do you make your company a place that drivers want to work? I believe it starts with a close examination of all aspects of your company. First, stand outside your front door and ask yourself, what is the first impression that an applicant gets? Is the entrance clean and inviting? How is the applicant greeted and who is the greeter? What hiring process or interviewing techniques are being used? Does the person doing the interview have the skills necessary to dig deep and be inquisitive with the driver while asking only appropriate questions?
I could go on and on but what I’m encouraging you to do is to look at the whole process. Try to look at your office with “new eyes”. If you were an applicant/driver, is your company presenting an atmosphere that you would want to be associated with?
And that’s only the first step to get the driver in the door. Now walk into your dispatch facility. What is a conversation like between dispatch and the truck drivers, as well as dispatch and your customers? Is it professional and friendly? How do the dispatchers handle stressful situations? Have you trained your dispatchers on how to handle stress? Most companies don’t offer a lot of dispatcher training. Hopefully yours can remain cool, calm and collected.
How about driver training? Many companies do not regularly communicate with their drivers about safety issues. I say regular communications because it is not just about safety. Regular communications could be a weekly or monthly phone call from the safety office that contains appropriate safety message. Of course this should be documented and placed in each drivers file. It could also be a regular memo containing safety insights. A safety meeting could be “a tailgate” meeting which happens when several drivers are together and someone shows the initiative to discuss safety issues. And then documents that effort. Or it could be an annual safety meeting where all the drivers are asked to come in and listen to speakers. It is great to book outside resources as speakers. I know that often the MTO is available to speak to groups of drivers and the drivers usually have great questions for the officer. I’ve also been to meetings where the police have been the speaker. Think outside the box and ask local people to attend.
The smaller companies are often the ones who have “self-employed drivers”. If you arrange for them to have health benefits, it may help retain them longer and attract new drivers to your company. We do know that health benefits are very important to some applicants. Do you pay the same as everyone else? Or are you at the top of the echelon, willing to make a little less profit per mile knowing that higher pay is what it takes to retain your drivers?
The point I want to make is that I think every company owner should walk into their facility and look at it with fresh eyes. If you were an existing driver, would you want to work at your company? If you can answer that in the affirmative, then great! Spread the word. Shout it out from the rooftops. Include it in your advertising and your recruiting processes. If you cannot honestly say that you would like to work at your company then perhaps it’s time to make some changes.
Best of luck in your recruiting and retention processes.