Hire Smarter, Not Harder

Lexi Tucker
Posted on November 22, 2019

Let them know what they are in for (Photo via Unsplash user Van Tay Media)

Let them know what they are in for (Photo via Unsplash user Van Tay Media)

The Global Ground Transportation Institute (GGTI) held its second webinar in October on “The Secret to Attracting and Retaining Talented Drivers,” an issue affecting many facets of the world of transportation. Moderated by Sarah Gazi, executive director of the GGTI, along with presenter Mike McDonal of Saucon Technology, the two tackled what operators can do to set the proper expectations before people are even brought on board.

McDonal structured his presentation by looking at the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the situation.

  • Who do you need to operate your equipment and represent your company
  • What do you expect from them, and vice versa?
  • When do you need them?
  • Where do you find them?
  • Why do they stay and/or leave?
  • How do you take these questions and use them to create a successful business model and core group of reliable employees?

Who Do You Need Them To Be?

Mike McDonal of Saucon Technology

Mike McDonal of Saucon Technology

You’ve heard it time and again: Your chauffeurs and drivers are the faces of your company. Whether clients choose to do business with you again will depend mostly on their experiences with their driver.

So, what are the initial signs to look for in someone who has been brought on and seems promising?

  • Presentation. Do they look the part? Do they dress in their uniform? When they are having a bad day, how do they represent themselves? Your dispatchers need to observe these factors before they let them out on the road. Do they have good people skills? Do they reflect genuineness and are they service-oriented? McDonal says over the years he’s observed a fine line between being genuine and kissing butt to get a good gratuity at the end of the day.
  • Communication skills. How and when do they communicate with others? A tell-tale sign of an employee who’s a keeper is someone who takes initiative. “In terms of a motorcoach driver, when they stop and open the door for the first time, do they bound down the stairs and say, ‘Hi, I'm Mike and I'm going to be your motorcoach operator for today. Can I speak to the group leader just to make sure we're all on the same page as to what we're doing?” He says this, of course, depends on your clientele. “I worked with the Baltimore Ravens for several years and one of their rules was you don't speak to the players unless they speak to you first. So it's all in not just how, but also when do you communicate with them.”
  • Ability to operate the equipment. Just because someone has a license doesn't mean they will be qualified to operate that type of vehicle. Are they able to understand the nuances between different types of motorcoaches (i.e., the way the dashes are laid out, where certain buttons are)?
  • Being physically qualified. Have they passed all required DOT tests as well as any other reviews you have such as a background and drug test?
  • State and local certifications. If they're operating specialty equipment like a stretch limousine, do they have a limousine license? Different types of services require different types of credentialing depending on the state they are operating in. When you search for your insurance company, what are their requirements for your drivers? Is there an age minimum or maximum? Is there a minimum amount of experience behind the wheel of any commercial vehicle?
  • Acceptance of risk. Do you think they can take on the responsibility of handling your clients? McDonal says one of the questions he asks himself is, “Would I put my family in a vehicle operated by this person?”

What to Expect of Them

  • Being on time: If you're not 15 minutes early, you're late.
  • Properly attired: Make sure they understand your standard dress code and any facial hair or jewelry requirements.
  • Having all credentials on hand: They should come with all licenses and medical cards.
  • Exceed the expectations you set for yourself: If you're the group leader and you're hiring the bus, what would you expect of that driver when they showed up?

What They Can Expect of You

  • Are you being honest with those you interview? Wouldn't you want them to become a part of your team genuinely wanting to be there? (Photo via Unsplash user Jason Leung)

    Are you being honest with those you interview? Wouldn't you want them to become a part of your team genuinely wanting to be there? (Photo via Unsplash user Jason Leung)

    An honest assessment of the job and duties.
    Be brutally honest with them. If it's not a 9 am to 5 pm job, don’t tell them it is. They will likely have to work weekends and holidays. There will be snail-paced slow seasons, and ones so crazy they’ll miss seeing their family. No good will come of hiding this information from them.
  • An understanding of the business cycle you work in. “In the charter industry here in the Mid-Atlantic, January, February, and up into the first two weeks of March, you may work three or four days a week. From that third week of March until the end of June, you're begging for a day off. For July, August, and into mid-September, we're steady and you work four or five days a week. Then, from the middle of September until the week or so before Christmas, you're busy, not as crazy busy as the springtime, but you will be busy,” he says.
  • A good orientation and more than adequate training program. McDonal says his was six weeks long, including a week of classroom training and a week behind the wheel. Two weeks were devoted to learning specific routes. They were then put under a mentor or senior driver for the last two weeks.
  • A fair compensation program. Look at what your competition is paying and measure yourself against them. Do you have an incentive program based on performance?
  • An open-door policy to communicate with key company managers. You must be available to them not just during normal work hours.
  • A safe vehicle to operate. Provide them with a safe, clean tool to help them take pride in the job they do.

When Do You Really Need Them?

Determining the balance of full- and part-time drivers is vital and in flux. Part of this is making sure part-time drivers understand what part-time means.

“Typically, we would ask them at the end of the month to give their availability for the next month, and we would give them a calendar. We would highlight the days we were specifically busy and try to tell them to make themselves available to cover the work during that time. Now, one issue I know we had and several other companies have is they would tell us when they could work, and then at times, they thought they could tell us what they wanted to do as part of that work.”

Don't let drivers dictate to you what work they will do and what work they're won’t do if you've adequately trained them to do what you’re asking of them.

When you take on a full-time employee versus a part-time employee, they will cost you more money because you will be paying them benefits. You won't necessarily have to do that for a part-time driver; you just need to keep them busy. Make sure the part-timers understand during the interview that you will work your full-timers first.

Where To Look

Setting the right expectations will lead to more success in hiring (Photo via Unsplash user Sebastian Herrmann)

Setting the right expectations will lead to more success in hiring (Photo via Unsplash user Sebastian Herrmann)

It’s time to get creative. Everyone has driver recruiters: Your staff. You never know when they may come across someone who may be interested in driving or already have a driving background.

Look at shift-based occupations such as fire service, police officers, and advanced law enforcement officials. Even former secret service or FBI agents have the potential to use their skills to your advantage. School teachers who need something to do during the summer are also a great search pool.

There are multiple ways to reach these candidates. You can start by posting on bulletin boards and reaching out to their various unions. Age 55+ communities can include people looking for a second or third career. Many like to be around people and travel. Military bases, real estate agencies, and job fairs are other gold mines.

Finally, and most importantly, use social media. There are many groups out there where drivers are moving and asking about good companies to work for.

Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

Hint: It isn't all about the money. Here are a few reasons why drivers stay or leave.

  • Respect: Does your company make them want to act like an owner? Do they feel like an active participant in decision making? Know the names of your employees and try to learn the names of their spouse and child(ren) as well. Take interest.
  • Honesty: Tell them what to expect when they come to work for you. What you expect from them, and what they can expect from you.
  • Earnings and life balance: Part of this process involves explaining to them your business cycle, including the times of day and the year they will need to work.
  • Work cycles and assignments: Let them know how the work is being assigned to them so they're not thinking someone may be getting jobs because of favoritism.
  • Equipment: “When you're in a market where some of the larger companies are rolling big, shiny new buses out every year and your company hasn't bought anything in a couple of years, that'll make a difference. You want to make sure that not only are you proud of the equipment you put on the road, but also your drivers feel good about what they're driving as well,” he says.
  • Perceptions: How are you and your company perceived in the industry? Do you help other companies when they have an issue in your area? Reputation is everything.

Combining It All

If they are dressed for success, that's a good sign (Photo via Unsplash user Hunters Race)

If they are dressed for success, that's a good sign (Photo via Unsplash user Hunters Race)

Keeping drivers isn’t simple; it requires dedication on your part. Sometimes that means working the same hours as them. Volunteer to dispatch just so you can say hi. Find out how they are feeling and thank them for their hard work. Bring them food and listen to their problems. Let them hear not just from you, but from other people that they're doing a good job and they're appreciated for what they do.

Whether you provide scheduled service, charter runs, or a hybrid of the two, you should examine your business model and see what tasks employees need to do and when they are able to do them. Whether they are part- or full-time, they should be treated as equals. Their benefit packages may differ because of labor laws, but as professionals, they should be treated with the same respect.

Monitor employee sentiment by creating a driver committee made up of full-timers, part-timers, veterans, mid-career workers, and newbies who can share their views of operations and bring up employee issues.

Sarah Gazi, executive director of the GGTI

Sarah Gazi, executive director of the GGTI

The Global Ground Transportation Institute serves as a global community and source of education for all segments of ground transportation. If you have not yet joined GGTI, now is the time. Over the coming months, the group will be unveiling valuable content available to only GGTI members. Click here to learn more about registering.

Related Topics: employee recruitment, employee retention, Global Ground Transportation Institute, hiring, hiring chauffeurs, webinar

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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