By: Ray Haight, TPP Retention Coach
To start with, you will need to get much more granular in measuring driver turnover you do this by focusing on sub-categories such as dispatch board, company driver vs. O/O, and entry-level drivers. This exercise will reveal your company’s strengths and weaknesses, providing an opportunity to improve overall.
These more focused numbers will give your company a much better understanding of where you stand – and why. This drill-down will focus on the different dispatch boards in your company. Look at your dispatch boards as though they are individual fleets within your company because they are. Different boards cover different regions and various types of services and skills; therefore, they often have different kinds of drivers. These types of drivers are often managed differently by dispatchers. It’s easy to see why some boards are harder to staff than others.
One of the reoccurring themes in this effort is that we are not looking for bad guys – but low hanging fruit in different dispatch situations that can provide insights. This more detailed look at turnover may reveal “stars” – boards with lower turnover. “What is it about some these boards and dispatchers, that allows them to have lower turnover?” We can emulate their success if we understand it. The boards are different, so measure their retention in detail, find out why they are different, and tune your actions accordingly.
Our company had six different dispatch boards (Three flatbed, three van) defined by geography and trailer configuration. For each board, we calculated the same Short- and Long-Term turnover rates that we have already done for the entire driver team. Use the same short- and long-term calculation formulas shown for the whole company and do the same for each of your dispatch boards, divisions, or even terminals.
Our company’s monthly reports were based on six different dispatch boards that produced two turnover numbers for each board. Moreover, I would also receive the overall and short-term numbers for the entire fleet. So that was 14 reports each month. We found this very insightful. So much so that more detail seemed like a good idea – and it was. So, we looked even more in-depth.
We had 100 company drivers and 200 owner-operators at our fleet, and we decided that we wanted to measure each group separately. So now, we are at 28 separate monthly reports. You will soon realize that once you get the formulas in place and up to date, these reports are not difficult to generate. They all use the same data, just broken down into finer sub-categories. It is not nearly as complicated as it first seems.
This set of dispatch board calculations is not done merely out of interest. By doing them monthly, you will now track your progress going forward. Produce the numbers every month and then monitor which are going up or down as you introduce improvements towards reducing your turnover. Which of your new initiatives is having the most significant impact, and where? With these monthly numbers, you can track progress in real-time and react to the effectiveness (or not) of those new things you are doing. Measure, watch and learn.
We said we were not looking for bad guys, but we are looking for STARS. What and who is working well with your dispatch team? What can we learn from these bright spots? What are the traits of these successful dispatch boards? Use this insight to make process or style improvements among dispatchers or to hire more people in the future with these same behavioral traits.
Apart from the insights we can obtain from these more detailed turnover numbers, keep in mind that things are often affected merely by measuring them. The act (and awareness) of measuring tends to shine a light on positive trends and accelerate improvements through this awareness. From now on, you will have monthly turnover numbers by dispatch board to monitor trends, spikes, and leading indicators – in close to real-time. As stated earlier, this is not an arduous task once it is setup. It flows well from things you are already doing, and it is essential to tracking and tuning your activities as you go forward with this project to reduce driver turnover.
Before you get started, let’s note that it is imperative here to include all drivers in these calculations, whether they left on their own, were terminated, retired, or left for health or family issues. At this point, why they aren’t at your company now doesn’t matter. We are just looking for the exact bottom line of the turnover problem.
Please do not allow anyone in the company to defer responsibility for turnover, to improve it you have to own it, you and your company did everything necessary to have your turnover where it is. Unless you do this, you will never be effective in lowering your numbers; the blame game will always win if you let it.
Regards and safe trucking