Operations

How To Hire And Keep Chauffeurs

Anne Daniells
Posted on August 15, 2016

Hiring the right people is a manager’s most vital task. Many operators complain about how hard it is. No matter the company or its plans, good workers make the machine work best toward company goals. Getting the right professional chauffeurs who have servant hearts can be a challenge, especially with transportation network companies (TNCs) in the market. But looking in the right places helps.

Meeting Your Future Chauffeurs

Chauffeurs appear in two ways: You find them or they come to you. Finding the good ones requires constant effort. When an experienced chauffeur comes to you, it is a gift earned through reputation — usually yours. If a company is known for its fair owners, high service levels, good benefits or flexible schedules, word gets around. Chauffeurs seek companies with traits they value.

Likewise, think about how a good chauffeur acts. Usually, the best are naturally hospitable and helpful. They smile and greet people, talk easily, and know how to read clients. They open doors and load luggage. Ask almost any chauffeurs what they like about the job, and they’ll likely answer the people they meet and the things they learn about them.

Another trait of good chauffeurs is the image they project of your operation. Grooming, posture, and uniforms are hallmarks of the “look” we want as part of our brand. Some chauffeurs will say the best part of their job is brushing elbows with the elite — something they can do when dressed well in clean, flawless vehicles.

Recruiting, however, means you must target prospects with a plan. Seldom does one person have all the attributes a company wants, especially if the candidate has not chauffeured before. In this case, see if the person’s style reflects the traits of a good chauffeur: Patience, promptness, courtesy, and hospitality. This tends to be an older, more experienced person with model composure. Three key groups are likely to have them:

  1. First, while that Craigslist ad may net a wide swath of applicants, a smaller and more qualified pool is the goal. Hospitality-related job fairs are a good start. This is a hospitality business that happens to use vehicles. Start with job fair applicants who understand and know how to serve customers. New chauffeurs can learn roadways and how to dress, but the right attitude of client service is hard to create. So make attitude a priority. Service is second nature to this group and valuable in a candidate.
  2. TNC drivers are another possible group of future chauffeurs. At first, the job competition may have been tough, but now these drivers are ready to do and earn more with a better company. They have not been treated well as independent operators and know they can do better as a professional chauffeur. The benefit for a hiring operator is TNC drivers know the roads and already chose to drive, so they should have some basic customer service skills. Maybe they need a little polish and training in company ways.
  3. A third applicant well-suited for chauffeur service is one with military, police or fire service experience. Young and old, freshly out or retired after many years, this applicant pool already knows how to address people with respect, how to take direction, and how to wear uniforms. Because they have worked with the public, their people skills are well-honed. Reach out to local bases, retiree unions, and military publications to find worthy candidates. Local bases have their own job fairs, and military and police magazines offer cheap ads for employers willing to hire from their ranks. In some areas, hiring military veterans comes with tax benefits.

Agreeing to employment is a two-way street — a mutual decision with a fair exchange of work for pay. In a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey of human resources leaders, 60% said an attractive benefits package is “very important” in hiring quality employees, versus only 38% who said a high base sal ary. With rising medical costs, a basic benefit package is the one thing most people must consider if staying with a company.

But this costly benefit is not always necessary. Many chauffeurs don’t take benefits, anyway, even when offered. Don’t let medical benefits stop you from keeping employees on track and working toward your company’s success.

Keeping Chauffeurs Happy

So you’ve hired a new employee. Chauffeur or not, keeping employees requires a few simple things to engage and motivate them to provide excellent service to valued clients. Unfortunately, it’s not easy, especially in this industry. Due to high costs of recruiting and training, a manager should strive to make employees happy and involve them with company success.

Unsatisfied employees, like unsatisfied clients, do not stick around. The American workforce is highly dissatisfied already, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. In general, only 31% of workers engage fully in their work, and transportation’s rating nudged a dismal 25%. Certainly, the chauffeured service numbers should be higher if they are handling paying customers.

We all know it takes time to groom quality chauffeurs. Losing interest from 75% is a costly and avoidable error. Engaged employees ease a manager’s job, benefiting the company. Tried and true tactics will get the best results. No matter how you measure, a few techniques will earn employee loyalty and keep client service levels high.

When employees know what you expect, have what they need to do their jobs, fit their roles, and believe their managers have their backs, they will commit to almost anything the company tries to accomplish. For chauffeurs, this translates into clear and consistent training, technology that works, and a sense of being valued as part of the company’s goals.

Entrepreneur Magazine writer Paula Andruss suggests several ways to keep any employee eager to work and happy to stay. Consider this list and your operation. Then choose a few options to improve employee commitment. Most cost little or nothing, and go a long way in retaining high-quality and dedicated chauffeurs:

  • Training: All chauffeurs are trained, but keep it going. Ask for feedback, show them the results, and they will appreciate the effort. Good chauffeurs see the difference among companies when they are standing together at baggage claim. Make yours proud to represent your company and stand a head above the crowd with spotless appearance and public behavior.
  • Offer flexibility: Some companies have a ‘no miss’ policy that ensures employees never miss family milestones because of work, Andruss writes. The increased desire for work/life balance is evident in the U.S., especially among younger workers. Knowing a child’s school program will not conflict with work is a big relief to any parent. They even work harder to make sure things are covered, and this costs an operator no money.
  • Respect the individual’s skills: If you trust a chauffeur to do the job, he will do it. One of the most rewarding things that happens here is the employee can personalize daily work. The initiative shown when trusted to do a good job is valuable to operators. Let employees shine by trusting them and telling them. No one wants to disappoint someone who trusts them.
  • Get rid of daily irritations: From IT irritation to not having cold water handy, limit the many little things that drag on the workday. Enjoyable daily work turns sour amid constant minutiae. Fix the vacuum, keep the water cold, and stock the mints. Chauffeurs often see their jobs as fun, so make it easier, too.
  • Variety: Rarely does a chauffeur want to do the same run every day. Most chauffeurs say one of the best things about the job is the variety of places and people they encounter. Short runs mixed with long ones keeps things fresh and spread out the higher tips.
  • Create a happy culture: The happiest places to work are those where employees interact well. Encourage collaboration on projects. Insist on and model respectful behavior toward all employees. No gossip, no snarky snickering. Just work well, find solutions together, and create a safe place where ideas and efforts are valued.
  • Recognize chauffeurs: They represent your company on the street 24/7, but not often in the office as part of the base team. Make them feel more integral by calling out their safety performance and loyalty. This could be a bonus or gift cards, but it’s the recognition that motivates.
  • Listen: Leaders who listen will receive honest and respectable feedback. If two heads are better than one, listening to employee ideas will unearth a groundswell of ways to hit company goals. Meet with chauffeurs — maybe in smaller groups to encourage them to share ideas and solutions to workday challenges. An employee who engages is one who cares, and you can create this desire if an employee feels heard.

Each of these suggestions will help retain chauffeurs and other employees. Companies that instill these traits reap the most contented employees, according to Gallup. Because these surveyed companies “see tolerance of mediocrity as the enemy,” each step toward engaged employees builds excellent performance. A highly motivated and engaged chauffeur means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow.

Clearly, finding chauffeurs with the right stuff takes more than an online ad, and keeping them at peak service levels takes more than a paycheck. If you know and do this, you can beat your competition.

Writer and former operator Anne R. Daniells is the operations manager for Dav El / BostonCoach San Diego. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Related Topics: business management, company culture, employee management, employee perks, employee recruitment, employee retention, hiring, hiring chauffeurs, How To, managing chauffeurs, recruiting chauffeurs

Anne Daniells contributing writer
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