I ran a fleet of trucks for a few years. I had a pretty good crew of guys working for me. I appreciated the ways they built my business.
Fleet managers have a tough job – they have to maintain that “professional” distance but they want to have a good working relationship with their drivers. They want to trust the drivers that their logbooks are correct and that the drivers are handling themselves well on the road, especially if they’re driving the trucks that belong to the company.
Drivers want steady work, to be paid on time, and to be respected for the work they do. Sometimes they go above and beyond and that needs to be recognized.
I know of some fleet managers that create awards for their drivers. Others give small bonuses in gift cards. The traditional turkey at Thanksgiving goes a long way with drivers with families. We googled “Truck Driver Appreciation” and found a lot of ways – taking drivers out for a meal with they’re in the yard, or setting up a point system with a valuable reward.
When I first started driving, my boss arranged for a team to come in and clean the trucks every Saturday. I don’t know that many of the other drivers liked that, but I thought it was a good thing – it felt good, getting into a clean truck on Monday mornings. I took pride in my ride. My manager knew that – and gave it to me.
As a fleet manager, it’s not just about awards for the drivers. There’s huge benefit to the fleet manager to keep drivers. Driver turnover continues to be a huge problem in the field. We know it’s hard to be away from home and family as much as the long distance driver is. There are frustrations that a driver has to deal with that they laugh about once they’re home, but it wasn’t so funny at the time. Bad roads, crazy cars driven by teens more interested in their text messages than the road – everyone has horror stories. But a trucker with a good job and respect from his or her peers and bosses is likely to stay in the job a long time. Retaining drivers means less time training a new driver how to abide by the company’s unique rules and methods. Keeping a trusted driver makes sense. Keeping trusted driver happy makes more sense.
A critical part of retaining drivers is respect.
That’s not unique to the truckers. No one is going to stay in a job where they don’t feel respected – the turnover in those jobs is extremely high. In our society, truckers are often looked down on as hicks or too stupid to do anything else instead of given the honor due to the people who provide the goods for our lives. There’s a Twitter hashtag out there #TruckerTuesday where people thank truckers for being the pipeline to food, clothing and shelter. Maybe we should start another one: #RespecttheDriver.
Most of the truck drivers I know are good men and women who want to do their jobs well. Giving them the tools to do their jobs well, respecting their work and their time (on and off the road) and their professionalism is worth whatever money and effort a good fleet manager can do.
Get to know your drivers. Find out what their dreams and plans are. As far as you are able, help them achieve those goals. That’s how you retain the people you want to work with and who will help you build your business.