Driver friendly?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.This issue's cover story takes a look at what should be a fleet's number one priority - attracting and retaining top talent. Dave Goodson, president of the National Survey of Driver Wages, has prepared a scorecard of driver face-offs. These represent the most critical contact points prospective drivers will have with you before they're hired.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

This issue's cover story takes a look at what should be a fleet's number one priority - attracting and retaining top talent. Dave Goodson, president of the National Survey of Driver Wages, has prepared a scorecard of driver face-offs. These represent the most critical contact points prospective drivers will have with you before they're hired. The scorecard rates each driver face-off on a five-point scale, with five points being the best.

Equipment. Most drivers start forming an impression of a carrier based on its equipment. Offering a late model conventional probably only rates a "3" or "4," depending on the specs. To reach a "5", the fleet needs to offer truly spectacular equipment.

Driver buzz. Rate how your current drivers are talking about you, with negative buzz scoring a "1" and positive comments a "5."

Walk the talk. If your ads are part of a consistent message you want to send prospective drivers, rate yourself a "5." If you don't think you can deliver on the promises, give yourself a "1."

Web sites. Close to 20% of all drivers access the Internet on a regular basis. Sites that rate a "5" not only provide information, but give drivers insight about what it's like to drive for that carrier. If you're not keeping information up to date, rate yourself a "1."

Accessibility. If a driver calls and is put on hold or dumped into voice mail, it shows the company is not people-oriented. How easy it is for a driver to get through to someone? There's no neutral rating.

Recruiter knowledge. If your recruiters are well versed in company knowledge and create a good first impression, give yourself a "5."

Wage package. Like great equipment, a good wage package can compensate for a lot of sins. It should be straightforward and simple.

Application package. Using poorly designed materials creates an impression that the carrier does not have its act together. Materials don't have to be glossy and slick. They just need to be well designed, informative, and easy to read.

Home-front package. One factor that influences a driver's impression of a carrier is the amount of effort it puts into establishing a positive relationship with the driver's family.

Orientation food and lodging. Do you pay for meals and put drivers up in good hotels during orientation?

Terminal facility. While drivers won't be spending a lot of time at a carrier's facility, that first tour will tell them a lot about the company. Goodson tells the story of one carrier that advertised itself as pro-driver, yet had bulletproof glass in place to separate drivers from dispatchers. Things such as the condition of the driver lounge or access to managers and office staff are pretty obvious indicators of how a carrier treats its drivers. If you want to make a good impression, pull out all the stops, including putting up a greeting board that lists the names of the new drivers. "One carrier even has a limousine service pick up its drivers at their hotel and take them on a tour of their terminal yard before depositing them at the front door," says Goodson.

Orientation. The final face-off is what happens in orientation. Too many carriers treat orientation as a necessary evil. Carriers that try to keep orientation lively by using enthusiastic trainers, for example, go a long way toward creating a good first impression. It's not much fun to work for a company where the procedures you're expected to follow are not clear.

In general, an "A" carrier is defined as one that scores 50 points or more on this assessment. You can feel confident that new drivers will have positive expectations when they come on board. The next challenge is to "walk the talk."

For more information on the driver survey, contact Dave Goodson at 715-386-3943.

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