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Fleet Owners: An Overlooked Strategy for Keeping Your Best Drivers

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Dec 6th 2019 10:00AM

Over the years, I have interviewed numerous fleet owners in the expedited trucking sector. And when I ask them about their biggest challenge, I hear the same thing.

Keeping good drivers.

It’s hard enough to find safe and dependable drivers. But once you get them on board, how can you keep them with you where they’re less likely to jump ship the next time another fleet owner offers them more money?

The typical answers will help. You know...set realistic expectations with drivers upfront, be responsive, give them a voice, offer a bonus program, treat them like family, and so forth.

But there’s one strategy that far too many fleet owners are overlooking right now that could make a powerful impact on retaining their best drivers—and even help with recruiting the drivers they want—with minimal expense.

The strategy?

Celebrate your best drivers by telling their stories and sharing them on your website, social media, and other communications channels.

Sure, your drivers care about money. They want to feel like they're fairly compensated for their work. And if they don't feel that way, you're not going to keep them, no matter what you do.

But drivers also crave recognition for their work. It gives them status with their peers, friends, and families. And it makes them feel appreciated by you and the company—and causes them to be more likely to want to stay with you.

At this point, you might be thinking, “No way! Why would I publish driver stories and let my competition know who my best drivers are? They’ll just recruit them away from me.”

Maybe. But if you have built an amazing company culture and are paying them well, the odds are strong that your top drivers will want to stay with you—no matter how hard other owners are recruiting them.

They’ll especially feel that way when you give them a platform to be recognized for their work.

And when they share the stories you’ve created about them with their friends, family, and other drivers on social media, you’re building your brand as a top owner to drive for—which will help with your recruiting efforts.

But where do you begin in terms of telling stories that celebrate your best drivers?

#1. Decide which drivers you’d like to spotlight.
What are your criteria? Perhaps you know they have an interesting story. Or, they’ve reached a specific milestone (years with your company, days collision-free, income earned, etc.). Or, they’ve developed expertise in, say, “selecting good loads” that would be valuable to share with others.

Once you've set your criteria, choose drivers who fit the parameters, and plan how you'll go about drawing out their stories.

#2. Develop your interview planning sheet.
Here's a sample planning sheet to help get you started. Adapt the questions to fit whatever stories you want to draw out of a specific driver.

Driver(s) name:
Year, make and model of the truck they’re driving:
Years in expediting:
Years driving for your company:

What type of work were you doing before you started driving as an expediter?

What led you to become an expediter? How did you first hear about expediting?

What challenges did you encounter when you first got into the business?

How did you work through and overcome those challenges?

(If it was not discussed earlier in the conversation…) What led you to join our company?

What has been your most unusual or interesting load since you’ve joined us?

What do you enjoy most about the expedite lifestyle?

What advice do you have to give to others who are considering becoming an expediter or even joining our company—to help them be successful?

As you develop your questions, keep your audience in mind.

Who exactly is your audience for this content?

Ultimately, your target audience is other prospective drivers who are dissatisfied with their current fleet owner or career—who come across your driver stories and are inspired to reach out to you.

So, ask questions that will lead to compelling content that appeals to prospective drivers.

#3. Create a content strategy for how you’ll publish and distribute your driver stories.
Here’s a simple seven-step strategy to help you generate the maximum impact with your driver stories with the least amount of effort and cost.

Step 1: Create a section or page on your website, like a blog, where you and your team can publish updated content like your driver stories. Come up with a title—say, “Excellence in Expediting” or “Driver Spotlight” or whatever best fits your situation and branding.

Step 2: Interview drivers using a video conferencing service—like Zoom—where you record the video of the conversation to publish on Youtube.

You could conduct the interview over the phone, but the value of using the video conference is that it enables you to create additional pieces of interesting content without much extra time. You’re hitting multiple birds with one stone.

Step 3: Strip the audio from your video conference to turn it into a podcast. (Here are the instructions.)

You could then publish the audio file on a service like SoundCloud. The audio option allows other drivers to consume the content while driving or doing other activities.

Step 4: Transcribe the video/audio of the interview using a transcription service like Rev.com.

With Rev, you have the option of human transcription for $1/minute of audio time or machine-generated transcription for 10 cents per minute.

Step 5: Edit and convert the transcription into a written article that you publish on the blog.

Step 6: Distribute the content—in either written article, video, audio podcast, or in all versions)—in your email newsletter.

By the way … If you don’t already have an email newsletter, create one. You can’t control who sees your (or your company’s) posts on social networks because of their periodic algorithm changes, but you do control your email list. So, build your email list with current drivers, prospects, staff, vendors, and other folks you’d like to keep in touch with for your business.

Step 7: Share the story in its various formats—written, video, audio—on the social networks and tag the driver who’s spotlighted in the story.

The Bottom Line
Compensation is just one piece of the driver-retention puzzle. Drivers, like any of us, also want to feel appreciated. Make drivers proud to drive for you by celebrating them by telling and sharing their stories.