Smart strategies to retain drivers

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Updated Aug 24, 2023

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Driver retention is a crucial factor for the success and profitability of your delivery business. But it's also a significant challenge for many fleet managers who face high driver turnover rates.

Recent research from Scandit shows that a majority of drivers (67%) have changed jobs within the last two years, with 42% of these within the last year. It's no secret that fleet managers often grapple with the daunting challenge of high driver turnover rates.

The impacts of driver turnover aren’t limited to increased recruitment costs. Losing a good employee disrupts operations and can lead to negative customer experiences. I’d like to dig a little deeper into the importance of driver retention and exploiting the common causes of driver turnover before offering a few tips to better retain drivers and keep your delivery operation consistent. 

Why Is driver retention important?

It should come as no surprise that driver retention is crucial because it directly provides cost savings for your business. Recruiting, onboarding, and training are all time-consuming and contribute to long-term expenses. But in the short term, the minimized capacity from the positions you’re seeking to fill will affect your delivery operation. Beyond that, operational efficiency is negatively impacted by constant disruptions, such as employees leaving or having to accommodate new driver training. Customer satisfaction may likely suffer without consistent performance, leading to fewer repeat customers or word-of-mouth referrals. Most importantly, your business risks losing valuable expertise and skills from a revolving door of drivers. Experienced drivers bring a practical understanding of routes, traffic patterns, and customer interactions that can’t be replicated remotely. Keeping employees like this can inspire the same in others, allowing you to promote from within and foster a healthy company culture.

What causes driver turnover?

Driver turnover can be attributed to various factors, and understanding these causes is essential in addressing them effectively. Some common reasons why drivers may seek opportunities elsewhere include lack of appreciation, late payment and no benefits, no technology access, vehicle breakdowns and more. We believe the best way to counter these problems is to create a culture of appreciation, offer competitive compensation and bonuses, invest in the right technological solutions and stay proactive with fleet maintenance.

Now that we’ve explored the common causes of driver turnover, let’s shift our focus to the actionable strategies you can use to retain your valuable drivers:

First and most importantly, prioritize health and safety. Demonstrate your commitment to the well-being of your employees with proper health and safety measures. These measures may include routine safety training for all drivers, setting standards for a safe work environment, and ensuring vehicles are equipped with the latest safety features. Prioritizing safety both reduces the risk of accidents and acts as an investment in employee well-being.

Prioritize pay. You also need to offer competitive benefits and pay to attract and retain quality drivers. Conduct research to see where your compensation stacks up and consider changes to pay (including bonuses), insurance, and other benefits to stay ahead. Supporting the financial stability of your drivers can significantly improve overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Talk to your drivers. Regularly seek feedback from your drivers about their experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement. A culture of open communication encourages a judgment-free sharing of thoughts, so listen to their feedback and take appropriate actions to address any concerns. Involving drivers in the decision-making process or implementing their ideas promotes a sense of ownership and collaboration.

Give kudos. Make sure to recognize and celebrate the achievements of your drivers, such as top performance, safe driving scores, and customer ratings. Public appreciation boosts morale, reinforces a positive and open work environment and encourages friendly competition to balance the occasional challenges and stresses of the job.

Provide training and education. It never hurts to invest in the professional development of your employees, and drivers are no exception. Regular training and educational opportunities for your business may look like defensive driver courses, skill acquisition programs, or certifications specific to your industry. Providing avenues for development increases driver expertise and acts as an investment in their overall career growth – which could materialize in internal promotions to new roles or departments.

Maintain your vehicles. Your fleet vehicles serve a dual purpose as a driver’s workspace and a billboard for your business. Investing in proper maintenance and quality vehicles that are comfortable, fuel-efficient, and equipped with top safety features is crucial. Reliable driving experiences minimize driver stress, which reaffirms the feeling of a positive work environment.

Finally, invest in technology. Embrace technology solutions that make your employees’ jobs easier, not harder. For drivers, this may include the option of preferred GPS navigation apps, easy-to-use delivery routing, and a user experience that’s quick to master. Of course, investing in technology can’t be truly effective if it doesn’t positively impact everyone. Don’t settle on the cheapest option unless you know it serves your entire business.

In today’s competitive delivery landscape, driver retention is a significant challenge for fleet managers. But with these tips, you can invest in a work environment that values its drivers, promotes well-being, and fosters a culture of success.