Tackling driver retention part 6: The circle of success

(PHOTO: JIM ALLEN/FREIGHTWAVES)

(PHOTO: JIM ALLEN/FREIGHTWAVES)

by Ray Haight, TPP retention coach

Here we are at the end of this series on tackling driver retention. If you were to follow the steps laid out in this series from beginning to end, I would suspect that the whole process would take six to twelve months. The trick is how to sustain and improve your results consistently. When my company went through this and finally got to 20% turnover, we celebrated.  However, we grew concerned when we experienced a bounce where our turnover numbers jumped back up, though they were still nowhere near to where they were when we started.

This was when we realized that we might have begun to take our success for granted. So, we decided that we needed to double down on our efforts to ensure we never came close to triple digit turnover again and we didn’t.  We came in consistently between 20 and 30% after the first bounce we experienced. 

Of course, you can use your judgment on some of this, but for your company to avoid this experience the final section of this effort is called the “circle of success.” It is an abbreviated review of most of the milestone moments of the first six sections, so in a nutshell, consider some or all of this in your strategy moving forward.

1. Should your leadership team restate the original commitment to the whole company and at the same time recognize all the effort that has gone into the gains that the company has achieved to date? It could be marked as a celebratory event making a big splash over your success to recognize the folks who were the stars and reassure them that the effort continues. Make certain the value statement is front and center.

2. Ensure the process to know where you are in the marketplace with driver and owner operator remuneration is accurate and make sure you set your process up in a SOP that repeats itself at a minimum annually, if not quarterly. You must know where you are compared to the competition at all times and ensure that position aligns with your company’s business strategy. 

3. How much stronger is your commitment to safety and how is this focus reflected in your numbers? Is your safety record the focus of your input of new drivers and owner operators? How can you further this commitment to safety which must be at the forefront of your recruitment and retention effort?

4. Have you entirely built out your communications strategy filling your company’s rumor mill with all the good things that happen at your business daily through your Communication Action Team (CAT)? Remember the saying that “I share information with you because I trust you, I don’t share because I am not interested in your opinion?” People who feel engaged will contribute more, they are more productive and will make this effort more successful, that’s a fact, and you have to get this right.

5. How is your recognition program working? Are you catching people doing the right things and then rewarding and recognizing them? Nothing is as impactful to ensure that ethical behavior is repeated. Everybody, including the biggest, toughest truck driver, likes to get a pat on the back once in a while. There are folks at your company that do amazing things in their communities, for charities, and for your company; shine a light on them and watch them grow.

6.  What information do you share with your people about this industry? There is so much going on at any one time at the city, county, state, and federal level. Please don’t assume that your people do not want to stay up to date with what’s happening in the industry in which they have chosen to spend their careers. Do you have a process for them to continue their education in any area they have interest in? Having the offering of continuing education is a sign of respect and show interest in their future.

7.  Now that you’ve completed the program how are you going to sustain and improve on the turnover numbers you have been able to achieve? You must continue to support your communication strategy and the Communication Action Team. Support for the Recruitment and Retention Action Team must continue. You must continue to measure every element of your operations department to find any anomaly that might require attention. 

These teachings are at the root of the TCA Profitability Program (TPP) Retention Project. The full action plan consists of 46 three to five-minute videos, separated into seven sections described in brief above. There is also a very granular manual, one for each video, with expected outcomes, deliverables, accountabilities, and timeframes with which to comply. 

To ensure things get off on the right foot, the program starts with a full day workshop focusing on your company’s specific pain points. During the workshop, we also do a high-level strategic planning session where we try and get things kick-started and off on the right foot. Also, we have monthly phone calls with the program sponsor, and whoever else might have oversight on the plan. We discuss where things might be stalled up, we address unforeseen challenges and how to deal with them, and we review the last month's turnover numbers to ensure we're on track. The entire program takes between six and twelve months to complete depending on the situation with your retention numbers.

I have a personal goal with each of the companies I deal with which is to see them achieve a 33-50% reduction in their turnover within the first twelve months, which I know is achievable. How do I know? Because I have seen it, I have lived it, and this is one of the reasons I commit myself to this effort. Our industry deserves better than the turnover numbers we've been plagued with over the past number of decades, and with the right plan these numbers can be controlled.

If you’re interested in taking on your company’s retention issues, please reach out to me and let’s discuss how to get started.