By definition a mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person mentored, but he or she must have a certain area of expertise.
What does that mean in trucking, someone sitting next to them in the seat for days or weeks on end or can it be another driver you can reach out to for advice? When it comes to Owner Operators experience tells me they prefer the latter. Owner Operators tell me if my wheels are not turning I am not making much money.
The company I work with did it a little differently. I went to our operations team and I said, “Send me a list of your best drivers and best communicators”. Once I received the list our team whittled it down to 10 owner operators that were solid professional drivers and had the best interest of the company at heart. These owner operators each work for different customers or partners. When a new owner operator has completed the on boarding process their final portion is to spend time with one of our mentors in the truck (usually a day or two). At this point the new owner operator will be exposed to key contact people on the account, where to park at the customer’s location and how the paperwork flow works. For the duration of his/her tender for this account he/she now has a “Go to person” or mentor he/she can speak freely to. They are given their mentors phone number as well as the other 9 mentors on the team.
Since this mentorship has been implemented our turn-over rate has dropped drastically and our 90 day retention rate is the best it has ever been. You will find you lose most of your drivers within the first 90 days being with a company. How do we change the culture, two ways;
- The mentor calls the driver every week to check in to see how everything is going and to answer any questions the new recruit may have.
- A member of our operations team will conduct a touch base with a new recruit and make sure they are happy with their assignments and answer any quarries he/she may have.
We find this most effective because at times drivers are more comfortable talking with another driver rather than talking to an operations person. We continue this for the first 90 days of their tender with us after that we do random calls to the drivers, survey monkey and smaller meetings and all of this to achieve the goal of offering the best possible service we can.
We have two customers;
- Those we move freight for
- The drivers are our customers
As operations people, sales people and safety personnel we can put on the nicest suits each day and visit our customers but it’s our drivers that are the face of the company. They will interact with the customers more than anybody and it’s critical that the company message is received by our drivers. More importantly our drivers are not just a number, they are a member of our sales team. I believe too often companies miss the mark on this and it’s time we change the culture and people’s perspectives on drivers and our industry. What are you doing to make this a better industry?
Look for my next article on: “Fleet Advisory Committee” – Mixing drivers and staff