Fleet driver retention: how to hire the good ones, and keep ‘em

Graham Wood 09/27/2019 Vehicle Management

They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. No, we’re not talking about trucks or other modes of transport, I’m talking about their drivers! Fleet driver retention can be a difficult challenge for any fleet manager to face, and that’s why we’ve got some great tips and advice for you.

We know, there is a big demand for high quality fleet drivers. It’s not as easy as many neutral observers think. You need the right people with the right attitude who are also good drivers - and by good I mean punctual and safe. Most of all what you need from them is honesty, dedication and a positive attitude.

Although that may sound like a dream, believe us it’s true. There are a lot of good drivers out there. You just need to know how to reel them in, and how to hold on to them. That is the secret to good fleet driver retention.

Fleet driver retention: your #1 priority

That’s right. Fleet driver retention is pretty important. We’d even go as far as to say it should be you top priority. Followed closely by getting yourself a kick-ass fleet management solution - like Veturilo for example 😉 )

What you need to do

So, what do you have to do to attract the top drivers to your business? Firstly, you have to build your company’s profile. Your business’ reputation will attract experienced drivers. It will also make it easier to hire “from within”, in terms of the inner circle of drivers. Drivers who are very happy in their work are much more likely to spread the word to other drivers from their networks.

Online presence

Make sure your digital marketing and advertising are on point. If you have a clear and bold online presence, including on social media such as LinkedIn, it’s much easier to find and attract talent. Your company website should also be up to scratch and perhaps include driver testimonials and stories on your homepage, or at least the careers and/or “About Us” pages.

Competitive advantage

The fleet management game is becoming an extremely busy market, so you need to stand out versus the competition to break through the noise. Offer clear and differentiated benefits. This could be better remuneration, company benefits or extra on-site and off-site training. As long as they are presented clearly then it will help you make a name for yourself.

Where to search

As we mentioned above, referrals are by far the best policy. The fleet driving community is a close-knit one and word gets around fast. If you can leverage your existing [happy] drivers to recommend and find other candidates, then you’re on to a winner. Why? Because usually they will be experienced, ready-made professionals, and they will know what to expect from the role on offer. So, everyone’s a winner! As well as referrals, there are also plenty of HR agencies who specialize in recruiting fleet drivers as well as online job boards where you can find drivers looking for work.

Filtering your recruiting

This can often be the hardest part of the process. But, even if it’s really difficult to find the right kind of drivers, you’ll still have to work on filtering the candidates. The reason is simple. You need to be absolutely certain of the candidates fit for the role, because you will be investing a lot into them, such as time, as well as valuable training and sometimes even certifications.

Also, you’ll be trusting these people to drive your valuable vehicles, and/or handle your precious cargo, as well as serving your customers. Thus, you don’t want to waste your time and vital resources, or risk any part of your business. And, finally, you want to establish a long-lasting cooperation - this is the real benefit for your business. Those three magic words: fleet driver retention!

Quality criteria

So, what are the criteria to have in your mind when recruiting new fleet drivers. And here is where you have one eye fixed on the future in terms of fleet driver retention.

Qualifications

Obviously you will want to have all potential candidates fully qualified and possess the certifications relevant to your industry.

Driving penal record

Ideally this should be squeaky clean, but there are always exceptions. Here be sensible. If there’s a black mark on a driver’s record and they can explain it, then you should give them the benefit of the doubt if they seem like a top candidate.

Experience

Depending on your demands and industry, you may want a certain level of experience in terms of years and/or journey types (short distances and long distances).

Character

At the end of the day you know your company culture best. And your drivers should reflect that. You often know right away if someone fits the bill or not. But sometimes this can not be evident from day one. Above all though, you need your fleet drivers to be affable, and team players as well as having that independence that most drivers have. Honesty should be your #1 priority, so the right personality and temperament are vital. Especially if you want to avoid things like fuel fraud. To guide your selection, base the profiling on the characters of your best drivers.

How to keep your top notch drivers

And once you’ve got your top-drawer fleet drivers, how do you keep hold of them? First rule of fleet driver retention. Don’t talk about fleet driver retention. Wrong, we’re joking. There are a few guidelines to follow if you want to hold on to your superstar fleet drivers. Here are the main ones in our view:

1. Make them feel valued

This may seem like a no-brainer but believe it or not, there are companies out there are treat their drivers as expendable collateral. How can you do this? Through the benefits you offer but more than anything, how you deal with them on a daily basis.

2. Increase salaries when merited and possible

When you see that your fleet is running very smoothly, and it’s really helping the business, make a financial plan so that you can offer strategic increases in remuneration. Especially for senior drivers who will also be given training duties for new hires, etc.

3. Set work-life balance as a priority

This one is strongly linked to the first point. Make sure have the ‘human’ aspect in mind when you’re organizing drivers’ duties, routes and shift scheduling. Don’t forget, you can use Veturilo’s rich feature-set for these kinds of tasks.

4. Benefits and rewards based on behavior

Track and record good [and bad] driver behavior. Why? So you can minimize accidents and/or bad-driving incidents. Base your assessments on quantity and quality criteria. For example, reward a driver that is eager to change shifts as a favor to another colleague. Or if he/she goes out of their way to give a helping hand to another driver with a flat tire or other issue. There’s also things like rewarding minimum idling time per month, and/or his/her behavior on the road and towards other colleagues in general.

5. Provide quality training

From driving training to first-aid, make sure you are always up to date with the latest industry developments here. And also, make them fun by having them in off-site venues and including team bonding activities.

6. Focus on safety

Your paramount concern is safety. This correlates with driver shortages (i.e. it’s one of the reasons drivers are hard to find, it’s a difficult and demanding profession). There’s breakdowns, maintenance issues, and much more. It can be an unpredictable job. So put safety first as a mantra above everything you and the drivers have to do as part of their daily routines. Get feedback from your drivers and adjust procedures accordingly.

7. Tools to make their job easier

Provide your fleet drivers with the latest technology tools to make their job easier. For example, a fleet management app such as Veturilo with useful functions such as sharing location, engine warning notifications, etc, all go towards helping a driver in their everyday work.

Go forth and hire well

Hopefully the above points will help guide all you fleet managers out there in your recruitment of the best drivers for your businesses. Perhaps there’s something we’ve missed that you have learned from your own hiring experiences. If so please share, we’d love to know!

All that’s left to say now is good luck with your recruiting, and happy fleet driver retention in the long-term too.