NEED # 1
What do I need if I am a Driver looking for a job? At a cursory overview, it is not that complicated. First, I need to be satisfied that I will be paid a reasonable rate; either hourly, by the mile or by percentage. It must be a rate that will fulfill my cash flow needs and help my family and me get ahead. This seems simple right? It makes sense that the pay I will earn at your company represents your level of respect for me and the rest of your Drivers. The unknown is where things get sloppy. For example, the revenue per mile is reasonable, but how many miles are available? The rate can be a buck a mile but if I don’t get a fair volume of miles, what good is it to me? When looking for a job, everyone loves you and will promise you the moon to get you into their truck, but where will the reality be?
Driver; understand what your needs are and go armed with your own facts when looking for a job. It’s simple; add up all your payments; mortgage, car, cable, utilities, whatever you might have, fixed and variable, and then divide that number by the after-tax revenue per mile you’re being offered. Now you know the minimum number of miles you’ll need to get to a break-even level – and what you’ll need to drive to get ahead of the game.
NEED # 2
Now that I am comfortable with the wage, I need to feel confident that the company’s equipment is safe and that I won’t be put in harm’s way when I am in your employ. When I talk to other drivers at your business, what will they say about the maintenance of the equipment? Is there a good support system when I am out on the road? What happens when it’s 2 AM on a Tuesday night in the middle of Tennessee and I have a flat tire or a hot truck? What is the procedure to get me fixed and back on the road? Does the company have my back or am I on my own until someone from Operations answers the phone? I’ll talk to some of the other Company Drivers about the company shop. Do they keep their appointments for scheduled maintenance? Do the mechanics listen to the Drivers when they try and explain an issue, or do they ignore ten years of driving experience because they have a newly minted mechanic’s license?
Here is where things get tricky!
Most of what we want are things we don’t even notice until we have had a few trips with our new company. After a paycheque or two, there may be issues. How has the company responded to them? Do they encourage questions from Drivers, and will they get me answers in an accurate, timely fashion? Or do they procrastinate until they get around to it? Does the company bring the Drivers into their communication loop or are they keeping the drivers in the dark? If you believe as I do, that open, honest communication is the key to creating a positive sense of community and lowering driver turnover, then you might understand why so many carriers have such high turnover numbers. A carrier will give you information because they trust you. When a carrier says that you were hired to pick up your load at A and deliver it to B – what else do you need to know? You respond that you want communication with the company, and you want it to be two-way!
Does the company have an effective recognition program? Recognizing people for their accomplishments is the quickest way to show respect. When I see drivers being recognized for their efforts, both on the road and off, it tells me that this company cares about its people. I’m not talking about recognition just for the sake of it. I’m talking about actual accomplishments by real people. That can look like accident-free miles, acts of bravery on the road, acts of kindness on the road, being involved in community sports teams, charitable acts and on-and-on. When I talk to carriers about what things to recognize on this subject, it is usually a little bit of a letdown for me. People do amazing things every day – all the time. You just start looking for it, then they become obvious. Share those things, and everyone will walk a little taller!
Is there an opportunity at this company that I can’t get elsewhere? Could I take a job inside the business? Is that an option? Is there a program for that? Do they ask drivers for their input on specific truck specs? Do they show us what is happening inside and outside the business’s walls? What is going on in government legislation or notices of proposed rulemakings? What does the future look like from the company’s perspective?
If I decide to drive for your company and I find out soon after I start that my first two NEEDS are not going the way I was told they were going to, I’m looking to get out and on to the next opportunity. On the other hand, if the first two NEEDS are looking positive and then I see that the company supports it’s drivers with the additional WANTS, then I think I’ll stick around for a while. Those extra WANTS are starting to make me feel comfortable here. I know what is going on in the company, and they seem to GENUINELY value my input. It takes all of the above to begin to create a positive sense of community within your business because in the end, people stay in situations they like, and they leave the ones they do not like!
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.