Need 1: What do I need if I’m a driver looking for a job? At a cursory overview, it’s not that complicated. First, I need to be satisfied that I will be paid a reasonable rate. A rate that will fulfill my cash flow needs and hopefully help my family and me get ahead. It seems simple, right? Makes sense that I will perceive the pay I will earn at your company as your level of respect for me and the rest of your drivers. The unknown is where things get sloppy, for example, say the revenue per mile is reasonable, but how many miles are available? The rate can be a buck a mile, but if I don’t get a fair volume of miles, what good is it to me? For folks that are looking for a job, everyone loves you right now and will promise you the moon to get you into their truck; what will the reality be?
Here is some unsolicited advice driver, understand what your needs are, and go in armed with your own facts when looking for a job. It’s simple, add up all your payments, mortgage, car, cable, utilities, whatever you might have, fixed and variable, and then divide that number by the after-tax revenue per mile your being offered. Now you know the minimum number of miles you’ll need to break-even and what you’ll need to drive to get ahead of the game.
Need 2: Now that I am comfortable with the wage, I need to feel confident that your equipment is safe and that I won’t be put in harm’s way when I am in your employ. When I talk to other drivers at your business, what do they say about maintaining the equipment? Is there a good support system when I am out on the road? It’s two a.m. on a Tuesday night in the middle of Tennessee, and I have a flat tire or a hot truck. What is the procedure to get me fixed up and back on the road? Does the company have my back, or am I on my own until someone from Operations answers the phone? I’ll talk to some of the other company drivers about the company shop. Do they keep their appointments for scheduled maintenance, do the mechanics listen to the drivers when they try and explain the issue, or ignore ten years of driving experience because they have a newly-minted mechanics license?
Here’s where it gets tricky!
Want 1: Because most of what we want we don’t even notice until we have a few trips with our new company. Maybe after a paycheque or two have come in, there may have been issues. How has the company responded to them? Do they encourage questions from drivers? Do they provide answers in an accurate, timely fashion, or do they procrastinate until they get around to it? Does the company bring the drivers into their communication loop? Or are they keeping the drivers in the dark? If you believe as I do that open and honest communication is key to creating a positive sense of community and to lowering driver-turnover, then you might understand why so many carriers have such high turnover numbers. I give you information because I trust you. I don’t offer information because I don’t care about your opinion. I hired you to pick it up at A and deliver it to B. What else do you need to know? I want communication with the company, and I want it to be two-way!
Want 2: Does the company have an effective recognition program? Recognizing people for their accomplishments is the quickest way to show respect. When I see drivers being recognized for their efforts both on the road and off, it tells me that this company cares about its people. I’m not talking about recognition for recognitions sake. I’m talking about actual accomplishments by real people. That can look like accident-free miles, acts of bravery on the road, acts of kindness on the road, being involved in communities’ kid’s sports teams, charitable acts, and on-and-on. When I talk to carriers about what to recognize, it is usually a little bit of a letdown for me. People do amazing things every day, all the time. You just have to start looking for them, then they become obvious. Share those things, and everyone will walk a little taller!
Want 3: Is there an opportunity at this company that I can’t get elsewhere? Could I take a job inside the business? Is that an option? Is there a program for that? Do they ask drivers for their input on specific truck specs? Do they show us what is happening inside and outside the business’s walls? What about what is going on in legislation or notices of proposed rulemakings? What does the my future at the company look like?
If I decide to drive for your company and I find out soon after I start that my first two needs are not going the way I was told they were going to, I’m looking to get out and move on to the next opportunity. On the other hand, if the first two needs are looking positive and then I see that the company supports its drivers with the additional wants, then I think I’ll stick around for a while. Those extra “wants” are starting to make me feel comfortable here. I know what’s going on in the company, and they seem to value my input genuinely. It takes all of the above to begin to create a positive sense of community within your business because in the end, people stay in situations they like, and they leave the ones they don’t!