Tackling Driver Turnover – Part Three – Safety

So far, we have talked about setting your retention and recruiting efforts up for success. We have also discussed the platform and how we are going to conduct ourselves through this effort and the importance of knowing where you are in the marketplace on driver wages. The next step revolves around safety. When discussing retention with my new clients, I always ask them about their safety records early in the process of investigation. Safety records are one of the most overlooked areas when trucking companies decide to come to grips with their turnover and recruitment issues.

I can count on the client’s response being one of two. The first and by far the most favorable response is that the company has a very good safety record and an above average CSA score. The usual reaction to my receiving this information is to ask how they are leveraging their efforts and results. I will admit that this is a bit of a trap in that I usually do social media reconnaissance ahead of the call and if they have been leveraging their safety results, I would have congratulated them for their efforts at the beginning of our conversation on the subject.

Let me state very clearly that if you’re a company with a very good safety record and you’re not flaunting this fact in everything you are putting out in your communications strategy, then you are seriously missing the boat. A good safety record cannot be bought, and you can only slide on good luck for so long. The only way to achieve a good result is through diligence, dedication and making sure you do the right things right. And this is usually a cultural cornerstone of all successful companies. Anyone out there who does not think that Drivers and Owner Operators care about the safety record of the company that they drive for has their head in the sand; it is the second layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and is paramount to an effective retention and recruitment strategy.

The second response I get is that the company has had some issues and has started to focus on getting its CSA scores and safety results in line. Although this is not the most favorable situation, it also has value as the company has decided to draw a line in the sand on the safety issue and so you can also use the situation as a bellwether moment for turning the corner on the driver retention numbers.

Ask any insurance provider; companies with lower turnover have safer fleets. They have lower CSA scores, fewer claims, more reliable equipment etc. By focusing on the safety effort, you’re demonstrating your care and concern for your drivers and the motoring public in general. You can use the safety effort as a springboard for effective efforts on turnover because the two go hand in hand. Professional truck drivers want to drive for professional trucking companies. This is kind of a no brainer, right? Shoddy equipment, being pulled into scales regularly, reporting deficiencies that go unfixed, seeing crashed trucks against the fence in their yard; all these scenarios lead up to high turnover and there is no need for them to exist.

If you are one of the two typical companies described in this article, please consider the above and act accordingly. In my own experience, the company I managed was in dire straits when we were at 120% annual turnover. My phone rang continually in the evening or on the weekend and after identifying the caller as my safety manager, before I would say hello, I would ask, did we hurt anyone? This was no fun and it was a situation that could not sustain itself. Fast forward a short five years and we had won three TCA National Fleet Safety Awards and our turnover was at 20%. We were fully staffed and making much better margins.

In the next issue to tackling driver turnover, we’re going to talk about communication and all the facets of making it effective. As a precursor to that, part of every successful safety effort is a robust communication strategy. First, identify where you are now, and then identify where do you want to be at the pre-established date in the future. Now decide how you are going to get there. Soliciting your driver’s opinions on various elements is an effective method and is essential to the recruitment and retention effort.

As a TCA Retention Coach, I do not have all the answers, but there is a plan available to you, one that works. If you would like to discuss the opportunity further, reach out to me and we can consider what is available. You can also take this short survey that reveals some shortcomings that you can address whether you chose to move ahead with the offering or not. That survey is at, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KF2HG7S

Tackling Driver Turnover Part Four is next and will deal with communication, an integral part of any retention effort.

Safe Trucking

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.