Here’s a tip on retention – reveal the ugly. Before I get too far into the weeds in my process, I observe that driver turnover usually originates from a culmination of past factors. The company may have experienced rapid growth, been sold or amalgamated with another company, changed primary customer base or lanes, passed on to the next generation of family, or the primary funding source may have changed, bringing new outside influences.
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken .”
– Samuel Johnson 1709 – 1784
For us in trucking, I relate this phrase to the unending variables we deal with and the disproportionately low returns we receive. You simply cannot take your eyes off the ball in any department if you are running a trucking company; things are just too tight. Johnson said the trouble is that you do not see them coming. Habits start so small they can go unnoticed until they are “too strong to be broken.” Turnover is creeping up, don’t worry about it. It will come back down as soon as this or that happens. Next thing you know, your numbers are out of line, and you can’t seem to bring them back down as they continue to deteriorate.
Most of my work with carriers starts with a general conversation, which paints a picture for me. It is not unlike peeling the layers of an onion. To name a few of my questions: What’s the fleet size? What type of trucking does the company do, flatbed, van, etc.? What’s the safety record of the business? What are the current driver turnover numbers, and does that answer come with a lot of conjecture? How many unseated units do they have? What does the corporate structure look like and does it reveal a boss or a leader? Along with the all-important question of “What do you think the issue is?”
There are more, of course, but this can easily get a conversation started about the possible issues causing the turnover. From here, I have a link to a survey that will reveal what people within the company perceive as certain aspects that are vital to retention. These typically include safety, communication, culture, operational training and empathy, systems proficiency, consistency in driver contacts, employee opportunity, etc. Once I have all of the above, I can reasonably ascertain the gaps in company performance that are likely the significant factors contributing to its turnover.
Here is a tip for those companies that are worried about becoming victims of the above scenario. On your income statement, put a line item for turnover, monthly and year-to-date. For example, if you lose 10 drivers a month at 7k per driver, that’s $70,000 a month, or $840,000 in any given year. My thinking tells me that this number would be acted on much quicker than if it did not reveal this clearly, especially if it started to creep up with any momentum. Treat this as your ‘effective’ income. Drill this into your tea. Every time a driver leaves, they are taking a bag of cash with $7,000 with them. Now add gross margins from unseated units. All of this is, of course, accounted for in other areas of your financials. Reveal them and see the eyes in the room widen. We know we can’t hire our way out of the current situation and if you believe as I do that standing still will make you a target. Time is a wasting folks. If you would like to have a general conversation on your company’s turnover, please reach out to me. Let’s see what we can see.