Some fleet owners and executives might be cautious about Facebook, fearing it is an open forum for disgruntled drivers to tarnish their company image. John Elliott, chief executive officer of Load One, has a contrary view. Facebook and online driver forums are “hands down” the best tools for recruiting drivers, he says.
Elliott personally creates most of the content for his company’s Facebook page which has grown to more than 17,000 followers.
With 375 power units, Load One is one the five largest ground expedite carriers and is growing at a 22 percent annual growth rate due in part to its success recruiting and retaining drivers. Elliott presented a breakout session at the CCJ Fall Symposium on Nov. 6 about how Load One is using a variety of online technologies to boost driver recruiting and retention.
Elliott said that using static, tabloid-style recruiting websites and print advertisements are a relic of the past. “They are not a very good way to differentiate your company.”
Conversing with drivers online in forums for the ground expedite industry, and on Facebook, engages drivers in the culture of company, he said. “I think the connection level with drivers is much higher, but don’t go on there to recruit,” he cautioned. “I think that’s a big backfire. When drivers think you are recruiting, they think you’re not there for the right reason.”
On some occasions, former drivers will air their grievances online. Public rants must be responded to quickly, Elliott says, but Load One drivers will quickly come to the defense with more credible and positive information to diminish the credibility of the “hater.”
“You get a real sense of the company’s culture,” he said.
Once drivers are hired, Load One continues to use technology to keep them engaged. Instead of making drivers sit through the same orientation meetings, Load One uses a customized, online training program with different modules designed to fit each driver’s training requirements. This keeps the orientation process to a maximum of two days.
Once drivers are seated in trucks, Load One pushes out training materials, on demand, to drivers’ mobile devices and to its in-cab computing platform.
“We don’t have to bring them in,” he said. Drivers’ take a test for each module and their scores are documented. If a driver gets a safety violation, such as following too close, the training is automatically triggered. The driver has 48 hours to complete the course before they are taken out of the dispatch queue.
Load One also engages drivers with an online rewards program managed by a third party, Stay Metrics. Drivers sign in to the online portal to access company news and information, and monitor the points they are rewarded each month in 12 categories that include having no accidents or log violations. Drivers also receive points on their birthdays and after every 6 months of service.
The driver turnover rate for new drivers who sign in to its online “Drive for Gold” rewards portal at least twice per month is 30 percent less than drivers who do not.
The biggest benefit of the Drive for Gold program is the research that Stay Metrics provides Load One through online driver surveys.
“This has been huge,” says Elliott of the driver surveys. “This is one of the best, cheapest things in the world you can do to engage your drivers through technology.” Load One uses surveys where drivers rank Load One on everything, from its facilities to its maintenance and dispatch staff, and to gather input on spec’ing for new truck purchases.
“If you make some changes based on the data it rings well with (drivers),” he said. “You make them feel much more part of the team.”
Other technologies Load One uses to improve driver satisfaction include navigation, in-cab scanning and Wi-Fi Internet access. It is in the process of converting its entire fleet to automatic transmissions.