I heard a phrase the other day and I began to dig deeper into thought. The individual I was with talked about his wife’s shopping addiction when he said that she was a “want person and not a need person.” Some time ago I had actually done some quick research on the internet about compulsive shoppers and found that there is a small number of endorphins and dopamine released into the system when something is obtained or purchased giving us a feeling of accomplishment. Unfortunately, some of us enjoy this feeling so much, and it is so short-lived, that they get hooked and become compelled to have the feeling repeat itself which can be very destructive.
After hearing that phrase, I experienced an immediate flashback to when I was at a truck dealership some time ago talking to a new driver (CVO – commercial vehicle operator). This fellow, new to the industry as a licensed CDL CVO, was determined to become an owner operator ASAP. As we chatted, I noticed he was eyeballing a couple-year-old conventional that was tricked out the wazoo. Next to the beautiful beast was a more conservative, aerodyne truck that was obviously going to be a far cheaper truck to operate and had much less bling.
Having been through the bling phase in my life when it came to large cars some years ago, I was trying to impart my years of wisdom and inform the newbie in no uncertain terms what the best decision would be for him at his point in his career, him being a brand-new owner-operator. I went so far as to suggest that the net profit of the more aerodyne vehicle with less chrome would pocket the same net dollars in four years that the bling-mobile would earn him in five.
As I have said in the past, I am no salesperson. I do not have that skill but I admire those that do. I mention it because this person endured all of the things I could throw at him that were designed to shed light on this decision. I came at him with things like 20% better MPG, ease of maintenance with less bling and less unnecessary chicken lights, less capital expenditure, better cash flow, a lighter vehicle that will allow more payload. He looked at me and said, “Ya, but I have a young son, and I’d like to enter into some of the show and shine events with him this summer.”
What could I say? I wished him well and hoped he had great success as an owner-operator and went on my way. This person knew what they wanted. The fact that it was way more than they needed meant nothing to them.
So, are you a need or want person? Suppose you strip it down and look at the famed Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In that case, you start with food and shelter, then move up the pyramid to things related to safety and security, then onto belonging, esteem, and finally self-actualization: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs
Interestingly, as I overlay this line of thinking onto the current situation of turnover, it seems that many companies with high turnover struggle to supply what a CVO of today needs, let alone the want that is at the basis of CVO retention.
In the TCA Profitability Program (TPP) Retention Project plan, I break it down a little: According to Maslow, the base of this hierarchy pyramid is the need for food and shelter. To me, that means steady income. With that steady income, a CVO buys food and shelter for his family; not too complicated. But if a company doesn’t give me (a CVO) work or miles, I don’t stay as my basic needs aren’t being satisfied.
The next level is safety. Can you provide a safe vehicle for me to drive and a safe work environment for me to work in, lanes, customers, fuel spots, terminal, etc.? Because if I don’t feel safe and secure, as a CVO, I’m out of here.
If you’re a company that does not have the first two CVO needs nailed down, you likely have a very high turnover rate. I would guess that you’re likely well over a hundred percent. By overpromising and underdelivering, not paying, at minimum, market rate, your safety record is in question, and perhaps your trucks are being pulled over regularly by DOT because of it? These all need to be corrected.
It’s the next few steps that I believe elude the majority of trucking companies. The third step is belonging. Does your company make folks feel like they belong to a community? How do you create that sense of community? Do you communicate through newsletters, social media, etc., and what do you communicate? Do you try and involve the CVO’s family? Do you have functions and opportunities for them to participate in? If you do, I’m going to guess that you feel your turnover is manageable. You feel like this because your turnover rate is at or around published industry averages.
If you’re a company that has mastered the first three steps and are also valuing your people and recognizing them regularly, I’m betting that you on the low side of the turnover equation. If you’re past this point and assisting your folks to be everything they can be in their careers, then you’re likely best in class.
Your employees and your entire management team have built a company whose strategic advantage in the marketplace is its people. Congratulations to you. I’m sure that you are dealing with best-in-class numbers also; 20% and lower would be my guess.
As shared, the need in driver retention is income and safety which can be difficult. Transitioning from here to fulfilling the wants, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization is where best-in-class companies win the game.
If you’re ready to improve your turnover numbers or want to learn more about how to fulfill a CVO’s needs, let’s talk.