How To Keep Your Biggest Asset

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Tom Halligan - Also by this author

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Ninety-five percent of operators surveyed in the 2014 LCT Fact Book reported that a top priority should be to hire more chauffeurs.
No doubt it’s safe to predict that finding and retaining quality chauffeurs will remain at the top of the list given the rapid growth of the TNCs and competitive driver pool.

So what are operators doing to attract and keep chauffeurs in a new era of transportation disruption and competition?

That topic was front-and-center at the October 2014 LCT-NLA Show East as two panels addressed the issue head on and offered tips and advice to help operators recruit and retain chauffeurs.

Seasoned operators repeatedly emphasized that to retain chauffeurs, make sure they know about career opportunities within the company and reinforce how critical they are to the operation.

Jeff Shanker, executive vice president of A-1 Limousine (Princeton, N.J.), says his company lets chauffeurs know that they can advance in the organization.
Jeff Shanker, executive vice president of A-1 Limousine (Princeton, N.J.), says his company lets chauffeurs know that they can advance in the organization.

“We always are recruiting new chauffeurs and we often get people who come to us who are between jobs and don’t realize they can make a career with our company,” said Jeff Shanker, executive vice president of A-1 Limousine (Princeton, N.J.). Shanker, who was part of a show panel session that addressed how to keep top talent, said he makes sure new chauffeurs know how to advance their careers at his company. “They can advance to senior chauffeur and then road supervisors, so they know there is a career ladder.”

Further, offering benefit packages and incentives helps attract and keep chauffeurs, Shanker said. “We have 300 chauffeurs and we provide health and disability insurance, paid time off and life insurance is offered.” In addition, the company has a financial incentive program for chauffeurs who recruit new drivers.

Panelist Jeff Nyikos echoed the advice to promote the career potential in both recruiting and retention of new chauffeurs. Nyikos, COO at Leros Point to Point (Hawthorne, N.Y), noted that in addition to offering healthcare, paid-time off, 401K plans, and other benefits, the company also gives a signing bonus to new chauffeurs who stay with the company for three months.

“Finding and retaining drivers is at the top of our priority list. It’s a full-time operation here. We have a person who oversees recruiting and another person who trains new drivers,” Nyikos said. Operating a 200-plus vehicle fleet, Nyikos said the company employs some creative chauffeur programs and policies that support retention, including a short-term loan program.

“If a chauffeur is in a pinch and needs, say, $1,000 for a personal need, we provide a no interest loan, and then just take $50 or $100 out of their weekly paycheck until the loan is satisfied,” he said.

The company also holds periodic raffles for the chauffeur pool, giving away free tickets to sporting events and shows. “We also don’t penalize drivers for bad behavior. Instead, we reward good chauffeurs with $5 to $10 reward cards for Dunkin’ Donuts and other incentives.

Shanker and Nyikos recognize the fact that TNCs siphoning off potential chauffeurs is an industry-wide problem. “That’s why it’s important to create a career path for chauffeurs and to offer benefits as well as training because that sets us apart from the Ubers of the world. In fact, chauffeur training is critical for our industry because that is a major differentiating factor between us and TNCs,” Nyikos said.

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