Just ask

There are a many ways to create a driver-centered culture and if done properly they are all capable of being fun and effective. With driver turnover cost estimates ranging from $6000.00 dollars up to $12,000 dollars per person it makes cultural and monitory sense to invest in turning your company into a fun place to work and reduce turnover. So how do you do it? One of the first things to do is to ask people what they like and don’t like about your company. Doesn’t it seem obvious, ask the questions and react to the answers. You don’t have to be a industrial psychologist to get to the bottom of your issues — Ask!

A simple survey of your driving force can reveal all kinds of opportunities for improvement with turnover. The other off shoot of asking pointed questions is that you are suggesting that your driver’s opinions have value. I hope this point is understood, if I ask your opinion on a subject it is because I value your opinion, it’s powerful but only if I react and reply to your answer. If an opinion is asked for and no reply is given then the natural instinct of the person who offered the information would be, so why did you ask, don’t waste my time and in the end your situation will get worse. Don’t start this exercise unless you plan on following through!

What do you ask? Well it’s again very simple when you break it down into small chunks I would ask each area of your company to come up with 3 questions each to start with. Payroll might ask the drivers if their pay statements are easy to read, maintenance might ask for a rating on how punctual their scheduled maintenance appointments are. Safety might ask how engaging their safety meetings are. Operations might be interested in knowing their opinion on the functionality of the satellite system or phone system. What ever the common points of contact are with the drivers, each department should address them. An over approval rating by department should also be obtained a 1-10 measurement is all that is needed. I would also leave space for additional comments.

After the request for feedback of your internal procedures and policies it is a natural to try and get feedback on your driver and O/O’s daily environment. Ask who their favorite shippers and receivers are and then who their least favorite shippers and receivers are. You might want to inquirer as to your driver’s favorite fuel stops and least favorite fuel stops.

Run a contest for collection of surveys the names of those who participate go into a draw for company merchandise, have your safety department have them filled out during a safety meeting etc.

Once the information is collected it needs to be reacted to and the people who gave you their opinions need to know what you did with the data. You might want to show them the results of each question so they can see how other drivers reacted to the questions asked. You would obviously react to finding out who the worst shippers are by trying to help them change how they are perceived by your drivers or by replacing them, they are causing you turnover. Let your drivers know that you did react and what you did about the information you collected, your best shipper would be thanked in letter form or with the presentation of a plaque, copy the letter to your drivers.

The information collected is now the basis of your retention effort going forward, every area of the company can improve somehow with the information collected, it’s gold. This type of program can also establish a measurable system of driver approval from department to department, a benchmark is established and then it is up to individual departments to work at improving their overall approval ratings. They should set incremental goals for improvement and then devise a strategy to get there.

Two other initiatives are a natural spin off of this exercise and are important to overall success. First each and every improvement or increase in approval rating should be celebrated let your people enjoy their victory. Nothing spectacular but something that they can all enjoy and reflect on their success. Small milestones are what are needed to continue the momentum and to reach their goal. Second is the broadcasting to the entire company the success that has been attained, communicate what has been accomplished and what is what to come. Every company with 2 employees has a rumor mill feed yours with as many positives as you possibly can.

This stuff is simple but very powerful in what is being collected from your people, but again you must react to it or you will be in a worse position with turnover than when you started.

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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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