Understanding what your competitors are doing -- and paying -- is a critical aspect of managing driver retention.  -  Photo: ACT

Understanding what your competitors are doing -- and paying -- is a critical aspect of managing driver retention.

Photo: ACT

The nomination and selection process for determining the Best Fleets to Drive for each year is a deep dive into all kinds of metrics, including driver retention. Mark Murrell, co-founder and president of CarriersEdge, has a grasp on the driver retention trends and tactics used by the most successful fleets after years of working with fleets in the program.

Murrell has three simple points he says fleets should be doing to retain drivers.

1. Look Inward: Get Drivers’ Input on What’s Working and What’s Not

That must be more than just a mantra proclaiming an open-door policy and saying the leaders will listen. That is reactive. Murrell suggests leaders be proactive and ask drivers what is working and what is not.

However, leadership must act on what they learn through that feedback. 

“When you get that feedback, act on it, and show drivers the things that you’re doing, why you're doing it, and things that you can’t do, clarify why it is that you can’t do them. Have those conversations and make those changes,” Murrell says. 

“Drivers tend to stick around in places where they know they’re heard or where they know that their input matters.”

2. Don’t Over-Rely on Technology to Drive That Conversation 

Murrell says over the past five years there has been a shift toward using more technology to measure driver performance or conduct surveys. While those are useful, he stressed that technology cannot be the only component of communication and relationship-building with drivers.

“You've got to follow up those things with in-person communication,” he says. “In-person maybe isn't the right word, because it can be on the phone, it can be a Zoom meeting, that's all fine.” The key is it’s a live person-to-person conversation.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic made real in-person conversations more difficult, many fleets began heavily using technology, such as survey apps and automated scorecards to measure performance.

But surveys and scorecards are impersonal.

“It’s just a system telling you something,” Murrell explains. “If that isn't balanced with the human side of it, it really breaks down that collaboration and breaks down the relationships within the company. So, we’ve seen drivers start to really shift and say, ‘Enough with the technology, we want to have a conversation.’”

Fleets are learning it is not enough to provide drivers with a scorecard of how they are doing once a quarter that determines if they get a bonus or not. 

“Drivers definitely want that personal touch, they want that personal relationship. And that makes a big difference on retention,” says Murrell.

3. Look Outward

Look at what else is happening, and what other fleets are doing. 

Murrell says it is common for a fleet to know what other fleets are paying, but it takes more research to really find out how companies are approaching driver recruiting and retention. Executives looking to improve driver retention should dig for information on what other companies are doing in areas such as performance management, driver coaching, social activities, and operational components.

“You don't have to solve these problems entirely on your own. A lot of times somebody else has figured out a solution that can be really applicable within a fleet once you find out about it,” he adds.

Murrell says rarely does he find fleets that are not willing to share what they are doing in those areas. They may hold back some financial metrics, but they are typically happy to share ideas about driver programs and other topics that can help the industry.

About the author
Wayne Parham

Wayne Parham

Senior Editor

Wayne Parham brings more than 30 years of media experience to Work Truck's editorial team and a history of covering a variety of industries and professions. Most recently he served as senior editor at Police Magazine, also has worked as publisher of two newspapers, and was part of the team at Georgia Trend magazine for nine years.

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