Retaining your truck drivers is more than just an act: it's an art and a science.
We asked 150+ truck drivers from different carriers about why they are happy or unhappy with their companies. The results were eye opening. We heard a lot of complaints about companies not following through - whether it be about rewards packages or getting home at a certain time. Some issues such as type of load, may not be important to the office staff, but can be really frustrating for drivers. It’s important to remember that building trust is hard but losing trust can only take one wrong action. This is easy and important when it comes to retaining drivers. We came to the conclusion that one of the major causes of unhappiness is the lack of trust drivers feel with management and dispatchers.
To help your team improve truck driver retention, here are seven tips on how to handle a driver when they come to management with a problem.
Respond quickly - If the goal is to retain your truck drivers, we must realize that when one has an issue, a quick response from the office is crucial. These issues escalate and frustrate drivers when they call and are place on hold indefinitely. If a driver feels as though they have someone readily available to help them, they will be more trusting that their problems can be fixed in a timely manner.
Listen and empathize - When you connect with drivers, make the time worthwhile by actually listening to what they have to say. Small things, such as nodding your head or taking notes, can show drivers that you are paying attention. Always call drivers by name as opposed to a number. Some carriers even have systems that allow the staff to know personal details about the driver when they call in to create a stronger relationship. With that, there's more authenticity in emphasizing that you understand their problems and really want to help.
Ask questions - Truck drivers may not know how to articulate exactly how they are feeling or why they are feeling that way. Ask them questions in order to get the most detail possible. Usually we focus on questions that begin with "why" or "how", as these encourage a driver to share openly. This will help you have a better understanding of how you can fix their problem and will also make the driver feel as though you really want to understand what they are going through.
Relate to their problems - If something a driver says relates to you in anyway, tell them! If drivers can feel like they have a connection with you, they will feel more comfortable talking to you. Whether family, sports teams, hobbies or even the weather, deeper connections work. This is a really useful technique in building trust with your truck drivers quickly.
Follow through on results - After you hear from a driver, discuss with them about what you are going to do to help them. This will be the most important part of the discussion because this is what the driver is looking for. Make sure that the decision you come to is a realistic approach so that you can follow through. Don’t promise drivers something that you can’t give them, that will quickly break their trust.
Check up after a problem is resolved - Solving a problem is half the battle. Once you’ve done your part and followed through on your discussion, call the driver and make sure that they feel as though the problem was solved. This is an easy follow up and can make a big impact on the driver. At the end of this conversation make sure to ask if there is anything else they need.
Emphasize that respect is part of the culture - Throughout this whole process be sure to highlight the importance of respect. If the culture of your company doesn’t emphasize respect, trust between truck drivers and managers will be hard to build, which will continue to cause your turnover rates to increase. Too often we hear that a lot of disrespect comes from dispatchers, which are usually the primary driver contacts. Respect is a two-way street, as both staff and drivers need to respect the roles each play to make the company thrive. Spreading a culture of respect ultimately leads to happier, hard-working employees that boost the bottom line and want to stay with the company.