You’ve hired the best; now how do you keep the best?

We all know that hiring drivers is just half the battle. There’s the interview process, onboarding, training, etc. And when you have built your team of fleet drivers, they’re your team. And you want to retain them, as they’re safe, reliable, efficient and happy to be there. You have built a stable, productive fleet.

Then reality hits: fleet driver turnover rates are high, and there is (and has been) a shortage of drivers. And COVID-19 has made these issues even worse; the supply chain is stretched beyond capacity, creating more demand for freight shipments which created more demand for drivers (especially in Q2 and Q32020). This cycle of demand is not only continuing, but we are also seeing it increasing with even more consumer demand.

According to the American Trucking Association, “the turnover rate for truckload fleets was unchanged at a 92% annualized rate, while the churn rate for smaller truckload carriers dipped two percentage points to 72%” in the fourth quarter of 2020. Drivers are leaving fleets for better wages, benefits or more convenient shifts.

Those numbers are pretty eye-opening. So, what is the best strategy to keep the best drivers?

Don’t take your foot off the accelerator just yet, we have 5 ideas for you.

1. Prioritize Safety

It’s about safety first. Properly train the driver to operate your fleet’s vehicles and maintain a training schedule. Keep your vehicles in good roadworthy shape – check tires, perform daily walkarounds, stick to the maintenance schedule, and so on. Make sure you are checking all the appropriate boxes and use technology to your advantage. The key point: managing your fleet with the drivers’ safety and wellbeing as a top priority.

2. Educate, Educate

There’s no replacing years of experience and institutional knowledge. Your drivers are one of the best sources of information and education, as they know the company’s best practices – and are practicing them every day on the road. Hold a monthly lunch and learn to share information – and invite those drivers you’ve identified as your experts and thought leaders to host these lunches. Extend those lunches and the information shared to platforms and promote the engagement and interaction with your experts. Get the drivers – your highest performing and more – excited about sharing and learning, strengthening the fleet community.

3. Recognize and Reward with Technology

Drivers are on the fence about dash cams that track driver behavior – and some are leaving over the technology (and hurting retention numbers). But products like Driveri have the power to do just the opposite. With documenting and evaluating all driving time, Driveri is the only solution to recognize positive driving behavior. Yes! Actions like slowing down in merging lanes or completing stop signs, they get recognized. With four HD cameras, our fleet safety tool exceeds managers’ expectations, and an interior camera gives an in-cab view, completing the picture.

Highlighting the positive driving habits builds a better working relationship between fleet supervisors and drivers, and adds a competitive spirit among the drivers. And instead of focusing on the lesser behavior, dashcam platforms are able to reward the good driving with recognition and rewards. Drivers will stick around longer, key for retainment numbers.

4. Creative Incentives

Yes, everyone loves financial incentives – they’re an easy go-to for fleet managers, and the drivers will happily receive them. But what about positive recognition? A mention in the company newsletter or website, a plaque or a wall of recognition in the office, a feature of the driver – all these can mean as much as dollars. Gamification, which we discussed earlier this year, also motivates drivers by earning points for good driving.

5. Encourage Positivity

Show enthusiasm for your team and mission. Silence is deadly, as it affects fleet morale – let the drivers know how important they are to the business, and that they are an excellent team. Go for positive reinforcement rather than negative, be an advocate for your drivers. Encouragement and empowerment in teams begin at the management level. Think of yourself as the spoke of the wheel – if you’re positive and inspiring, that spreads to everyone you are connected to on the team and the benefit from that energy. Empowered employees also have higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity. Everyone wins.

We are only as good as our drivers, and we become better when we retain our best drivers to mentor and teach others. If you use all these strategies or just one, they will help keep the best drivers in a highly competitive market – and that competitive edge is something we all strive for.

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