Achieving a 65% reduction in driver turnover

Ray Haight
@RayHaight

Seldom do I write about products or specific companies, but I wanted to make an exception for a company that has achieved what is just the beginning of a very successful future.

I first visited Steve’s Livestock Transport in 2018 when I was invited to perform a workshop related to the Driver Retention Masterclass, which is now a Truckload Carriers Association offering to the industry.

I remember it well – there was a group of people led by COO Bill Rempel, who I had met with the previous evening for dinner. During dinner, Bill explained to me that the company had in excess of 90% turnover and that this type of turnover was unsustainable.

I came to find out was the company typically invested over $20,000 per driver for training, much of it pertaining to how to deal with livestock and all the complexities of ensuring North America’s food security is not compromised.

At the time, we were talking of a fleet of 150 drivers and owner-operators. At that turnover rate, the training cost alone for this mid-sized fleet was in excess of $2.7 million dollars leaking from the company annually.

To add to this, my experience suggests that this number is typically doubled when other inefficiencies are added in from each department. This includes: maintenance and wear and tear on vehicles; sales and service failures that come with high turnover; operations and continuous acclimation of new drivers; safety and accident/cargo claims that come from an unstable workforce; and administration with the continual training of new people on company procedures. A little harder to measure, yes, these are just as impactful on the bottom line.

Steve’s is located in beautiful Blumenort, Man., possibly the flattest place I have ever been to. This is where your dog runs away, and you can still see them the next day. Fine Dining in Blumenort consists of a Boston Pizza and a Smitty’s, two of my favorites. This is small-town Manitoba at its finest.

The fine people at Steve’s have been stuck on how to deal with driver turnover for some time and were totally frustrated on how to get unstuck. This is not a new situation for me to come across since I have been a driver retention coach for the past couple years.

My workshop included about 10 people from various departments and I was impressed with their dedication and openness. I explained to these folks that the people they were hiring didn’t want to fail, they didn’t come to the company hoping to go home to their families and tell them they were let go or quit. Telling them that this situation needs to be taken personally was not lost on them.

They understood the concept that telling a driver that they can’t hire them because they are not a good fit for the company shows much more compassion than having to deal with their departure a few months down the road.

(Photo: iStock)

So, they started working through the Driver Retention Masterclass material and implementing the strategies, forming the committees, and making incremental gains. They started at the beginning by building a firm foundation.

They started to showcase their exceptional safety record, they formed a group of people that were charged with communicating to all people involved with Steve’s and addressing those that weren’t the good things that happen in the business and in the industry.

They started to formally measure expectations of all drivers that came on board, including home time and pay. They started to recognize superior performance and amazing things their people do for other people, on the road, in their communities, and in the workplace. They also helped those who needed it and helped those who had the ambition to be the very best at whatever their passion was.

This effort was well thought out, but still, execution stalled, and I was asked to come back to Blumenort for another workshop. After a short time spent on site, we were back on track and again seeing incremental gains as time went on.

So, you can imagine my frame of mind when I received an email from Bill Rempel, now the CEO, just a few days back. Here I what it said: “Ray, the party is on! I am so thrilled about this award and I am even more thrilled to see how excited our management team is.”

This company that was nearing 100% turnover has morphed itself into an award-winning business and dropped its turnover by 65% over a two-year period. This takes determination, persistence and commitment from the entire leadership team and all the fine people inside the walls at this company. So, congratulations Steve’s Livestock Transport, for recently being named a Top Fleet Employer by Trucking HR Canada.

I’m proud of you folks! Now the grinding starts – we need to not only maintain the momentum but drop that turnover even further. But this is the time for celebration – take a short break to reflect and when you’re done that, I know you’ll get right back at it.

 

Ray Haight

Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.

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