Tackling Driver Retention – Part 7: The circle of success
Here we are at the end of this series. If you were to try and follow this process from beginning to end, I would suspect that the whole process would take six to 12 months. If done correctly, you should see a substantial reduction in your turnover numbers. The trick is how to sustain and improve your results consistently. When my company went through this and finally got to 20% turnover, we celebrated. Shortly after we also experienced a bounce, which is when the turnover numbers jumped back up nowhere near to where they were when we started but still a concern.
This was when we realized that we might have begun to take our success for granted. So, we decided that we needed to double down our efforts to ensure we never came close to triple-digit turnover again and we didn’t. We came in consistently between 20% and 30% after the initial bounce we experienced.
Of course, you can use your judgment, but for your company to avoid this experience the final section of this series is called the circle of success. It is an abbreviated review of most of the milestone moments of the first six sections, so in a nutshell, consider some or all of these in your go-forward strategy.
1. Should your leadership team restate the original commitment to the whole company and at the same time recognize all the effort that has gone into the gains that the company has achieved to date. This could be arranged as a celebrational event making a big splash over it to recognize the folks who were the stars and reassure them that the effort continues.
2. Ensure the process to know where you are in the marketplace with driver and owner-operator remunerations. Make sure you set your process up in an SOP that repeats itself at a minimum annually, if not quarterly. You must know where you are compared to the competition at all times, and that that position aligns with your company’s go-forward strategy.
3. How much stronger is your commitment to safety and how is this focus reflected in your numbers. Is your safety record central to your input of new drivers and owner-operators? How could you even further this commitment to safety must be at the forefront of your recruitment and retention effort.
4. Have you entirely built your communications strategy based on the rumor mill? Remember the saying, “I share information with you because I trust you, I don’t share because I am not interested in your opinion, do your job.” People who feel engaged in the workplace will contribute more, they are more productive and will make this effort more successful. That’s a fact.
5. Have you established a recognition program, catching people doing the right things and then rewarding and recognizing it? Nothing is better to ensure that ethical behavior is repeated. Everybody including the toughest truck driver likes to get a pat on the back once in a while. There are folks at your company that do amazing things in their communities or for charities. Shine a light on those folks and watch them grow.
6. What information do you share with your people about this industry? There is so much going on at the city level, county level, state level and federal level. Please don’t assume that your people do not want to stay up to date with what’s happening in the industry they have chosen to spend their careers. Do you have a process for them to continue their education in any area they have interest in? Offering continuing education is a sign of respect, and it’s good business.
7. Now that you’ve completed the program, how are you going to sustain and improve on the turnover numbers you have been able to achieve? You must continue to support your communication strategy and the Communication Action Team. You will need to continue to support the Recruitment and Retention Action Team. You must continue to measure, measure and measure every element of operations department to find any anomaly that might require attention.
Here we are at the end of this series of articles. These teachings are at the root of the TCA TPP Driver Retention Action Plan. The action plan consists of 46 three- to five-minute videos separated into seven sections described in brief above. There is also a very granular manual, one for each video. They have expected outcomes, they have deliverables, they have accountabilities and timeframes to comply with.
To ensure things get off on the right foot, the program starts with a full day workshop, focusing on your company’s specific pain points. During the workshop, we also do a high-level strategic planning session where we try and get things kick-started and off on the right foot. Also, we have monthly phone calls with the program sponsor, and whoever else might be an oversight on the plan. We discuss unforeseen challenges and how to deal with them, and we review the previous month’s turnover numbers to ensure we’re on track. The entire program takes between six and 12 months to get you on the right path depending on your situation with your retention numbers.
I have a personal goal with each of the companies who are in the TCA TPP Retention Project Plan, and that is to see them achieve a 33%-50% reduction in their overall turnover in the first 12 months, which I know is achievable. How do I know, because I have seen it, I have lived it, I’ve done it, and this is one of the reasons I commit myself to this effort. Our industry deserves better than the turnover numbers we have been plagued with over the past number of decades, and it can be beaten.
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Pay the same wages as in other trades, accommodating ROI and hours worked. Owner-operators have no protection, and consequently work for “minimum wage”.