Reduce driver turnover by laying out expectations

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One of the things I love about this industry is that if you keep your eyes and mind open, you can learn something new every day. I was flattered to be invited to sit in on a large company’s retention team meeting every week. I have worked with this company for a couple of years, and I am delighted with what they have accomplished. They have reduced their driver turnover during that timeframe by 59%. They still have a way to go to where they want to be, but that’s a significant improvement.

While working with them, one of the efforts we started was an Expectation Sheet. This is part of the driver retention program that I present. In a nutshell, carriers are asked to consider this simple paradigm; you hire drivers and owner-operators to fill seats and sustain your customers’ ability to succeed. If you understand that concept, then it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to reverse things and understand that both drivers and OOs will consider your company as a place to entrust their labor, because they also wish to be successful.

So, if we were to get to the root of what it takes to be successful for both parties, would this be a great starting point for both sides to work towards and hopefully end up? If you could do that, would you be successful in retaining more of your employees and owner-operators? Would your company become a place where people wanted to come to work and to remain?

If so, then let me walk you through how it might work: You would have each of your dispatchers itemize the critical elements that are needed from each driver, the minimum number of miles, communication requirements, time off notice, etc. Whatever is specific to their operational responsibilities.

This information is shared with the potential new hire. This same information is required from the driver. What is the minimum number of miles they need monthly to be successful? What kind of home time do they need? What amount of money do they need monthly to be successful?

Of course, you only hire the driver who is reasonable with their expectations and can meet your minimum expectations. If you hire someone with ridiculous expectations, hoping they will fall into the program and love you, you will have hired your turnover. They will leave for greener pastures, guaranteed.

(Photo: iStock)

We all know that doing these exercises and then filing the document away somewhere is a waste of time. My client created a scorecard for each of its dispatch boards. Those scorecards are reviewed monthly, and they check all drivers who have met their and your expectations.

They send a quick note of appreciation, reminding them they are on track. The drivers who have missed the company’s or their own expectations are talked to, and a plan for success is agreed on to move forward.

If done correctly, this effort is proactive and is a simple process to start to understand what is causing your turnover. What do unrealized expectations have to do with turnover? Everything!

This carrier has turnover numbers measured by each dispatch board. It matches those turnover numbers to each board’s expectations. You won’t be surprised to learn that there is a correlation between a board’s unmet expectations and its turnover numbers.

I love this idea because it is straightforward to design and is easy to implement and monitor. Most new innovation is merely common sense revealed, and this is an excellent example of that.

If you’re interested in exploring this idea and any other part of my driver retention project plan, feel free to reach out to me. The bottom line is that no one goes to work in the morning and tries to fail. People want to be successful. It’s in our nature, and if you believe that, what is your company doing to help people succeed?

If the answer to that question is nothing, what makes you think people will reciprocate and help achieve your company’s success?

I get great satisfaction from helping carriers reduce their driver turnover; every driver that stays with their current carrier is one fewer that has to go home and tell their families that they don’t have a job. That there will be an interruption in cash coming in to pay the bills. That they failed and either quit or were fired.

This industry disrupts families far too much, and I believe we’re too good to be this bad with our labor pool. We collectively need to start taking this situation much more personally. All of this turnover is fixable. It is not intrinsic to this industry – that idea is BS. There is no need for it, and it can be fixed.

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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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  • We don’t need you or recruiters don’t over think it just look at this.
    Inflation Calculator
    The Changing Value of a Dollar
    Adjusted for inflation, $18.10 in 1999 is equal to $28.38 in 2020.
    Annual inflation over this period was 2.16%.
    In 1999 that was my wage by the hour.
    So $28.38 x 44 =$1251.36 and 16 hrs @ $42.57 OT thats 60 hrs worked =$681.12 + $1251.36 = $1932.48 x 52 weeks =$100488.96 per year.
    Not paying 1999 wages oh that might be the the problem.

    • Some companies are paying 27 to 33 dollars per hour in Ontario Canada plus overtime. These companies are still looking for truck drivers but they have a waiting list same thing for the T C C and city of Toronto . Until trucking companies pay O T R truck drivers twice minimum wage because of the high cost of housing in Ontario we will not attract higher quality people to drive truck or school buses.