Sam Tucker is the founder and CEO of Carrier Risk Solutions, Inc., an Atlanta, Georgia based transportation risk management startup. Prior to this venture, Sam spent 13 years underwriting trucking and logistics accounts at some of the most well known insurance companies. He holds degrees in Business Economics and Finance/Risk Management as well as multiple professional insurance designations. Carrier Risk Solutions' innovative safety management platform can be found online at MySafetyManager.com. Reach Sam by email at STucker@CarrierRiskSolutions.com.
The trucking industry historically runs on razor thin profit margins. Insurance costs are increasing, taxes aren't going down. The FMCSA is gearing up for more fun and excitement with your company. Here are some ways to help you be more successful in the coming year.
Hire Better, Fire Faster
Yes, there probably is a "driver shortage" in the industry today. Though, it's funny how some carriers have no problem in attracting and retaining well qualified commercial vehicle operators and keep them in the seats for years. There are three basic principles when it comes to business success.
Attract, Convert and Wow
Same goes for hiring and retaining CVO's. You have to invest time into understanding what a successful CVO at your company looks like or should look like. Poll your current CVO's and see why they like working for you. Have face to face discussions with them!
Then invest the time and energy into finding where those CVO's came from or some of their common characteristics.
- Did they all attend a certain set of CDL schools?
- Did they all work for the same carrier at some point in their career?
- Do they all work with the same dispatcher in your company?
Once you have that set common criteria, go find those CVO's that seem to fit the ideal candidate that you are looking for. Forget billboards, newspaper ads and radio commercials. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, market for the year that you live in! Social Media is where your CVO's are. If you don't know about Facebook, Google+, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, LEARN. Or, hire someone to do it for you.
These complex social networks aren't just for teens to share selfies or updates with each other. Each of these platforms can and are being used for business, especially when it comes to recruiting!
Remember, just trying to put a warm body in a seat is a recipe for disaster!
Invest time and effort into developing an on-boarding process for new drivers. I'm not talking about the few days that they may spend going through your "training program". Pair them up with a mentor on day one. Take the time to help them understand why your company is different and how working for you is going to be different than working for any other company out there. On the same note, you have to be willing to help those CVO's who don't fit in with your culture move on to a different carrier or another career.
Operating a truck is probably one of the hardest jobs in the civilian world. It's certainly not for everyone! If a CVO is having a hard time adjusting to your company's culture, it is YOUR job to find out why and to try to fix that. If you can say that you've done your part...really...then you have to help them find something else or someplace else. The cost of a bad hire only increases with the amount of time that a person is with your organization!
How to wow your CVO's and other employees:
Treat your drivers like kings, not kids.
At the end of the day, you should treat your employees better than you treat your clients or customers. Period. Every one of your dispatchers should understand the powerful role that they play in the organization. Make them the Chief Respect Officers for your company. To your commercial vehicle operators, their dispatcher is the face of YOUR company in so many ways. You probably know from experience how good ones and bad ones perform. Please refer back to my earlier comment about attracting and converting with the right people. Be open and sincere with your employees. Treat them like partners. Don't fake it. This isn't bull$#!t.
Read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.
Have all of your management team read the book as well....buy it for them..paperback, Kindle, Audiobook...send them to a Carnegie seminar. Have a weekly "book club" meeting to discuss the book until you all make it through the book. Everyone learns differently, it's YOUR responsibility to identify how that is and to help them understand that.
Make sure that your dispatchers are involved also!
Again, as Chief Respect Officers, they have the privilege and duty to act as the face of your company with your CVO's. If they don't have the emotional intelligence and soft skills needed to interact with your CVO's, then YOU need to find someone who does. The role is too important not to. For the sake of everything, please get rid of your "Drivers Enter Here" door...or your stupid signs about how you only accept applications on a certain day, etc. These are literally signs of disrespect.
By having your CVO's enter through a separate door than anyone else, you are treating them like second class citizens. By placing silly signs about how you will only do this and that with potential CVO's, you're disrespecting them before they even begin working with you.
Establish private groups on all of the major social media networks for your CVO's to join and interact on. This online "family" will help them make it through those lonely nights away from their actual families and you should do everything that you can to foster this. But, remember the other side of the equation. If it's your group, then you have the responsibility of running the group including ensuring that nobody uses it as a platform to harass or otherwise harm anyone else. That's a good way to get sued.
Invest in the best mattresses that you can find for your CVO's sleeper berth. Buy them a new pillow every 6 months. Buy them each a tablet computer and pay for their wireless access so that they can FaceTime or Skype with their families and friends while they are away. Help make them comfortable while they're on the road. Help make them comfortable while they're at one of your facilities too! Invest in having nice facilities for your CVO's to relax in while they are waiting to go back out. Invest in nice beds, nice shower facilities, a well stocked commissary and a maid service to help keep these places clean.
Here is a sure-fire $2,500 CVO retention plan: Purchase two 50 inch TVs, two 1 Terabyte XBox Ones, 5 or 6 new games (Call of Duty Black Ops III, Madden 2016 and a few others) and two or three nice sofas and place these all in a room that your CVO's have access to. Make your company...your trucks....your facilities be somewhere that a CVO would WANT to be.
One last note, if one of your CVO's or employee's Mom or Dad or child dies....you need to be there....like at the actual funeral...or send someone who is high enough up in the company to matter. Again, don't be fake. If you can't handle it, then find someone who can in your place and write a nice note to that person.
Friends, it's about caring and sharing.
I promise you. Adopt just some of these suggestions and your regulatory compliance, safety behaviors, company morale, productivity, revenue and profit will improve. Your company will have the choice of the best CVO's out there.