Using KPI’s to Reduce Driver Turnover

In our latest episode of McLeod Insights, we sat down with McLeod’s Barry Brookins. We discussed how a company can improve its driver retention and recruiting by ensuring it keeps the promises that it makes.

Barry is the Director of Data Science here at McLeod. His wealth of experience guides him in discovering new ways to help customers gain deeper industry insights and improve their business. 

Understanding What is Important to Drivers

To improve driver retention and recruitment, a company needs to understand what factors are important to drivers. Although things like higher wages and new equipment can influence how a driver feels about a company, Barry says, “the real key to retaining your drivers is doing what you say you’re going to do.”

When recruiting, Barry says prospective drivers almost always cite being lied to as a reason for leaving their previous company.

“[Drivers] have a very high sense of conformity,” Barry says. 

Drivers must strictly adhere to things like company policy, traffic rules, and maintaining log books. Since they are held to such high standards, it can be difficult for them to accept when others break rules or promises, and it impacts them directly.

Kept Promise Indicators: a New KPI

KPI is commonly understood to mean “key performance indicators,” which are useful sets of data to show the trends of a company or an individual. Barry encourages a new kind of KPI he calls “kept promise indicators.” He advocates implementing measurements for how well promises are being kept to drivers.

During the recruitment stage, transportation companies commonly discuss several job elements with drivers. Some of these include:

  • What their earnings will be
  • What type of environment or atmosphere they will work in
  • How connected they can expect to feel to the rest of the company
  • Home time

Some of these elements are easier to measure than others. Promises about earnings, for example, are easy to measure by comparing numerical values. Other elements, like atmosphere, are intangible and more difficult to quantify. 

When tracking kept promises, Barry says, “The question isn’t if the glass is half-full or half-empty, it’s are you using the right sized glass?” 

Barry recommends surveying your drivers to aid in measuring kept promises. Using a third party to conduct your surveys can sometimes lead to more open answers from drivers.

“Drivers don’t really have a hard time telling you what they think,” Barry says, so conducting surveys internally will usually yield useful results.

Barry suggests the more frequent the surveys are the better your success will be as it’s best to catch a trend in unkept promises early. It’s also important to ensure your questions are aligned with the promises. 

If you’ve promised a family- or driver-friendly atmosphere, some items you’ll want to measure include:

  • How often are drivers contacted?
  • Do you hold events? 
  • How well attended are your events?
  • Are driver phone calls answered?
  • Are driver voicemails returned?
  • How consistent is home time?

Communicating Kept Promises

Barry emphasizes the importance of communicating a company’s efforts in keeping promises with drivers. He has seen situations where earnings promises were being kept, but weren’t properly communicated. If a driver feels that a promise has been broken–even if it hasn’t–it can still lead to that driver leaving.

Barry also encourages companies to do everything in their power to keep promises, even if the driver says it’s okay not to. If a driver is out without a load but you promised they’d be home the next day, Barry says you should make sure that driver gets home. What you might lose on the bottom line might hurt, but it’s not as bad as having to replace that employee. 

“You never know if this is your last chance with that driver,” he says.

For more insights into driver retention and recruitment, click here to listen to the full interview with Barry Brookins.