Truck driver retention, or the lack thereof, can come at a massive cost, especially when considering the average cost of hiring a driver – $12,000. To put even a dent in retention efforts would increase profits dramatically.
On the flip side, an unused truck sitting on the fence means $500 to $600 a day in lost revenue per truck. This places fleets between a rock and a hard place, making them choose either to spend $12,000 per new driver or raise driving standards too high and as a result lose revenue.
When looking at the top reasons that drivers leave fleets, you may be surprised to know that the first and second items on that list aren’t pay or equipment. Instead, most of the problems listed below can instead be solved in the first few days with a good orientation or onboarding program.
Five problems to address in truck driver onboarding
Lack of home time
Providing a good home-time policy is probably the most expensive, but more and more fleets are looking at how to make home-time a part of the logistical balance. One way the fleet can help is with good training during onboarding about managing work/life balance. Another is to encourage the driver to communicate family needs to dispatch and managers, ensuring drivers feel like they have more control.
Problems with dispatch and managers
There’s an adage that “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” For drivers, they often have two bosses: dispatch and their actual manager.
It makes sense then that dispatcher problems are a key reason drivers leave their current role. Orientation is a great time to explain how:
- Dispatch works
- To talk to and negotiate with dispatch
- To ask for other options
- To communicate customer delays
- To deal with disputes and miscommunications
If you don’t have training and policies to smooth the relationship between drivers and dispatch, consider creating them. The time required to do your due diligence will always be less than is needed to replace your entire fleet once a year.
Customer service headaches
While we understand that this can be a touchy subject, tips and guidelines for customer service should be covered in your new-hire orientation program. Customers who take a long time to unload a truck put your fleet in a bad position. Drivers need to learn ways to handle the problems they encounter professionally themselves.
While having those deductive reasoning skills proves important in being resourceful, drivers also need to hear from the fleet how to escalate the problem to dispatch and higher if necessary. Such communication teaches the driver that their time is valuable because, let’s face it, their time is valuable.
Recruiters and expectation-management
Recruiters have a bad reputation for promising the moon. It’s critical to open a dialog with a driver to find out why they left their previous company and what they’re expecting to be different at your company.
Then you can set expectations appropriately, giving the driver the resources so needed. If their issue was bad equipment, you can proactively make their experience immediately great by providing them all the information on dealing with maintenance and equipment perks. Not only are you giving drivers what they’re asking for, but also creating a level of autonomy.
Communications with headquarters
Truck drivers are lone wolves but that doesn’t change the fact that people are still at their core pack animals. They need a good stream of real and relevant information to feel like they’re a part of something bigger.
Onboarding is a good time to make sure they’re introduced to as many people as possible and for those people to follow-up with them by phone and by email whenever they can. In the absence of information, drivers will fill in the blanks and assume the fleet has bad motives. Signs of gratitude like rewarding drivers for taking training and public appreciation end up going a long way in creating goodwill.
Enhance your company’s truck driver retention strategies
Using driver retention as a competitive advantage will set top fleets apart from their competitors. That’s why successful truck driver onboarding programs lead with driver training as the logical first step.
To learn about the six questions you need to ask when implementing driver training, download our guide.