Proactive beginning

SUCCESSFUL driver retention begins with proaction rather than reverting to reaction, said Kelly Anderson of Impact Transportation Solutions Inc at the National Tank Truck Carriers annual conference May 7-9 in San Antonio, Texas.

“People get committed to people, not to companies,” Anderson said in encouraging recruiters to begin the retention process by engaging driver prospects in positive interaction.

He said that the recruiting process is an essential element, not only for finding drivers, but for determining which ones are likely to become long-time employees.

The way a recruiter handles initial contact can reveal the company culture that either encourages good prospects or sours them on the possibilities, Anderson said.

He advised recruiters to gather information in the initial contact in a diplomatic way by being kind and enthusiastic. He recommended that recruiter contact with a prospect continue through the hiring process, including driver training.

Company introductions

In addition to recruiter contact with the new driver, representatives from maintenance, payroll, fleet managers, terminal managers, and other departments should meet with the new hire to offer assistance in the transition period. New drivers should be given tours of the offices and introduced to the employees.

The fleet manager should meet as soon as possible with the new driver, get personal information such as birthdays and anniversaries, and go over the driver's expectations in private.

“What a driver expects from a company sets the tone for the entire relationship,” said Anderson. “Find out about problems and solve them. It's all about mutual respect and trust.”

On the first day the driver begins work, there should be no problems with the truck so that employment begins smoothly. Drivers should be paid promptly, as soon after hiring as possible.

Reinforcing the initial contacts and relationships throughout the driver's employment is an important part of retention, but should a driver decide to leave the job there are methods that can be used that may be helpful.

For those drivers who are eligible for rehire, Anderson recommends finding out the “real reasons” for quitting. A letter sent 30 days after the driver has left the company should note that rehire is possible. It also should contain questions about the reasons for leaving, which are more likely to be more accurate than those obtained at the time of departure.

“Go after the rehires you want,” he said.

Anderson also advised carriers to be cautious about sending warning letters to drivers who are employed. If there is a problem with the driver, it may be that retraining is called for. A warning letter may encourage a driver to quit the job because of the threat of a firing.

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