Onboarding starts with explicit communication on pay, workdays and hours, and expectations on key performance indicators (KPIs) that employees must achieve. It also means explaining the physical demands.  -  Photo: Automotive Fleet

Onboarding starts with explicit communication on pay, workdays and hours, and expectations on key performance indicators (KPIs) that employees must achieve. It also means explaining the physical demands.

Photo: Automotive Fleet

The lack of drivers has been a problem for a long time, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though things are getting better with the pandemic, finding enough drivers is still tough because the way people work is changing.

Toni Tovi knows all about finding drivers in this new situation. She started Bright Flag Recruiting in 2018 and made it work even during the tough times of the pandemic. Her company helps find drivers for delivery companies and people who work on their own, whether they have a special driving license or not. They also find mechanics, managers, and people who help with the office work.

In part one of our two-part series, Tovi shared best practices on how fleet operators can better better recruit and retain drivers in a seminar at the 2023 DeliveryCon conference and expo in Las Vegas. Read on for more information on how you can continue with the hiring process and improve retention. 

Refine Your Candidate Searches

Market to your existing database.

Previously vetted candidates who didn’t take the job initially are still potential candidates. Set up a form email to check in on them and gauge whether they might be interested in revisiting the job.

Do a separate campaign for drivers who worked for you and left on good terms. “It’s free marketing that you can do with the database at your fingertips,” Tovi said.

Insider tip: Indeed's employment website has a free tool to extrapolate your entire application database into a CSV file. With an email marketing platform like Mailchimp, employers can choose specific applicant demographics to target with a message.

Do a “quality control check” on your employment offerings.

It’s important for employers to continually benchmark how they stack up against their competition in any given market.

Do some research on the comps in your area — the unemployment rates, minimum wage averages, and what other companies offer in terms of compensation, benefits, and schedule flexibility.

You're wasting ad dollars if you’re not getting the responses you want. Put those dollars into a better pay scale that matches your competitors.

Optimize employment site keywords.

Insider tip: On Indeed, optimizing keywords on your listing can increase your ad's visibility without spending more money.

For a driver listing, add a larger competitor as a hashtag at the bottom of your ad (in the case of last-mile, add UPS, Amazon, or FedEx). This pulls in users looking for those companies’ jobs.

Onboard Drivers with Care

Onboarding starts with explicit communication on pay, workdays and hours, and expectations on key performance indicators (KPIs) that employees must achieve.

It also means explaining the physical demands.

Define day-to-day job expectations, and don’t sugarcoat them.

On that first day at a dispatch terminal, “I can set the tone for you as well possible, but when you see the hustle and bustle and 400 packages stacked up behind a truck, and you have to label and load them, and you can’t find your scanner, you have to experience that for yourself,” Tovi said. “And that's only a tiny piece of your day.”

After starting the job, it’s better for them to think that it’s easier than they thought it would be rather than harder.

“I really want the people we're hiring to understand what they're getting into,” she said. “If you're not a problem solver or a proactive person, this isn't going to be the best job for you.”

Understand, too, that there is no mold to identify the perfect driver. An ex-sports jock might wilt under the pressure of loading boxes into a van, while someone you’d least expect might be your most productive and longest-tenured. 

Check in constantly.

Does all that stuff still resonate with you in the right way? Does that all make sense? Are there any questions, and then following up with them through that training process to make sure that they're really getting the full scope of what they're being asked to do?

Employers need to check in with new hires consistently during the training process to ensure that new hires aren’t drowning and can voice any concerns. “Half the time, people stop showing up because they feel like they don't have support,” she said.

Choose the right employee mentor.

The drivers with the most tenure may have the most knowledge to share, but interacting with others and patience may not be their gift. Choosing the right person to interface with new hires is very important.

Toni Tovi is the founder and president of Bright Flag Recruiting and spoke at the inaugural DeliveryCon event.   -  Photo: Bright Flag Recruiting/Automotive Fleet

Toni Tovi is the founder and president of Bright Flag Recruiting and spoke at the inaugural DeliveryCon event. 

Photo: Bright Flag Recruiting/Automotive Fleet

Retain Drivers by Recognizing Them

As driving jobs are often viewed as commodities, what can you do to keep them?     

Acknowledge them.

Come up with ways to make your employees feel grateful, like giving drivers a mug celebrating their anniversary. Include a handwritten note and some candy. Their response? Hey, I’m impressed you acknowledged me.

Incentivize drivers to hit certain KPIs with a chance to win a prize. The prize doesn’t have to be exorbitant — a $100 gift card or a pair of AirPods — but it’s something tangible that they’ve earned. And it makes not just the winner productive but everyone else who vied for the prize.

Build camaraderie remotely.

Many driving jobs are decentralized, making team building harder. As Tovi’s recruiters are all remote, she schedules virtual happy hours once a month.

She also schedules virtual game nights with prizes that could include a Grubhub gift certificate to have a meal while they're on the call.

“It just creates a little bit of that synergy and that camaraderie that they're missing by being remote,” she said. “Technology (Zoom or Teams) can help, so use it to your benefit.”

In part one of this two-part series, start from the beginning and learn more about how to start your candidate searches and understand your new candidate options. 

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

About the author
Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Associate Publisher

As associate publisher of Automotive Fleet, Auto Rental News, and Fleet Forward, Chris Brown covers all aspects of fleets, transportation, and mobility.

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