I ran a fleet of trucks for a few years. Had a pretty good crew of guys working for me. And 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.
Being a Fleet Manager
As a fleet manager, it’s not just about awards for the drivers. There’s a 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 on how to abide by the company’s unique rules and methods. Keeping a trusted driver makes sense. Keeping a 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.
How You Can Support Your Drivers on the Road
We’ve talked about different ways to show appreciation to your drivers. Of course, awards, incentives, and respect are great. But, are there other ways of saying thank you to these hard-working folks, especially while they’re on the road?
Your truck driver needs to know he’s not alone out there. Let him know you’ve got his back. Here are a few suggestions that will be beneficial to everyone:
- Connectivity: Make sure you are always in touch with your drivers and vehicles. Technology makes this easy with a variety of devices that provide direct two-way communication.
- Safety: Learn about the advanced safety features that can help prevent accidents, improve driver experience, and protect cargo.
- Maintenance: On-road breakdowns or other vehicle issues are time-consuming and costly, so make it easier on yourself and your drivers with a preventive maintenance routine.
To effectively keep track of and stay in touch with your drivers, you need to be organized. With our TruckingOffice TMS, you can manage all aspects of the business. This includes invoicing, dispatch, truck maintenance, truck driver salary, fuel use, mileage, taxes, and so much more. Take it for a test drive today with this 30-day free trial. You and your drivers will be glad you did.