5 Driver Retention Strategies to Reduce High Turnover

Employee wearing a mask while driving a vehicle.

Ask any small business owner and they’ll tell you that one of the most important parts of their organization is their drivers. Driver retention is especially important in the home services industry—whether it’s HVAC, plumbing, cleaning, or electrical—because more often than not, drivers are also technicians.

If this critical part of fleet management goes ignored, you may accidentally be contributing to higher turnover. 

Driver retention strategies can help make sure that you keep your and drivers motivated and engaged, and high turnover costs. This article will explain:

  1. What is a driver retention strategy?
  2. Why does your fleet need a driver retention strategy
  3. Why you might be losing high performing drivers
  4. How do you retain drivers

What is a driver retention strategy?

Driver retention strategies are essentially the processes and policies aimed explicitly at keeping drivers or technicians on the road. Employee retention is as important to small fleets of 2+ vehicles as it is to larger fleets. 

By focusing on employee engagement and feedback, your company can mitigate the very real and very high costs of turnover.

Why does your fleet need a driver retention strategy?

Amidst reports that America is facing a staggering shortage of 80,000 drivers, it has never been more important to factor driver satisfaction, benefits, work-life balance, and driver safety into your fleet management strategy. 

Without accounting for retention, the driver shortage could derail your business.

The costs of driver turnover are too high to ignore

According to a survey by Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, the cost of driver turnover ranges from $2,243 to $20,729. For small companies and business owners who depend on their fleet to deliver services, that price tag only increases if the driver is also the technician. 

Hiring activities also mean diverting staff attention away from the important job they were hired to do – whether that’s accounting or electrical work – in order to fill the gap.

No matter what size your fleet is, those costs are simply too steep to be taken lightly. It makes more sense to aim for retention than to repeatedly train new fleet drivers and cross your fingers that they’ll stick around.

Opportunity costs can quickly get out of control

If you’re managing a small fleet, losing a driver means a disruption in service, directly affecting your bottom line. This is true whether the staff in question are dedicated drivers or technicians driving to and from the site. 

Similarly, it’s a waste to have your staff sorting through resumes, arranging interviews, and training new drivers when they should be doing something more valuable like Accounts Receivable.

Why you might be losing great drivers

For every pull factor your company boasts, there might be a push factor making your drivers quit.

It’s possible that your company isn’t paying market rates and drivers who would otherwise be happy to stay feel like they have no other choice. 

Drivers might leave your fleet if they feel undervalued or unappreciated if they feel that their coworkers are disrespectful or the company doesn’t prioritize their safety. Perhaps they are expected to work long hours when their job description doesn’t state so.

These sorts of issues often come back to mismatched expectations and poor communication. Is the work they’re doing what they thought they’d be doing? Do they know what’s actually expected of them?

It would be a shame to lose a good driver over a miscommunication; imagine if someone left because they were reprimanded once for failing to notify the company of warning lights on the dashboard when they didn’t realize that was one of their responsibilities to begin with.

How do you retain drivers?

The key to retaining drivers is to consider what motivates people and why your drivers would want to work for you. 

Put yourself in their shoes. If you were a driver, would you want to work at your company? What kinds of benefits do your competitors offer their drivers? Do you pay as much as they do? Do you offer top-notch working conditions?

When in doubt, you can always ask your drivers what sorts of things they value and factor their responses into your planning and consideration process. 

Here are 5 concrete solutions to retain drivers or service technicians:

#1 Compensate competitively

It’s always a good idea to benchmark yourself against your competitors and make sure your pay is competitive. Are competitors paying more than you? Do they offer their drivers extended health benefits or dental plans? Do they offer more sick leave? 

If you don’t know what you’re up against, especially during a driver shortage, it can be difficult to design compensation systems that keep people around. And if your driver pay rates start at $3 less per hour than the company next door, it’ll be really hard to retain anyone.

There are, of course, other factors that help people decide where they want to work and whether or not they want to stay, and strategy #2 is the easiest way to find out what those are. 

#2 Communicate with your drivers

The easiest way to retain your drivers is to communicate with them. 

By having a clearly defined communication channel, you can make sure your drivers feel like their concerns are heard. Have an open-door policy to keep feedback coming in regularly.

Listen to and act on driver feedback

Simply welcoming feedback isn’t enough…you need to act on it. By asking for and acting on driver feedback, you’re indicating to your team that their concerns and ideas matter to you. 

When people feel involved in the outcomes of their work, they are more likely to want to stick around and see things through. 

Make it clear that your drivers are part of the team and that their input is valuable. You can’t afford not to.

#3 Celebrate good driver performance

When someone does good work, it’s in your company’s best interest to acknowledge, celebrate and incentivize that. 

When your top performers feel appreciated and valued for their contribution, or even rewarded for exceptional performance, they’re more likely to stay and do their best. 

Set goals or milestones for your drivers and associate their accomplishments with meaningful incentive programs. 

What you should incentivize and reward

Some ideas for things you can celebrate and reward drivers for include:

  • Consecutive accident-free days
  • Number of safe miles driven
  • Positive customer feedback

In this way, you can create a culture that is committed to safety and hard work. As a starting point, ensure that positive feedback about drivers makes it back to them.

#4 Create a safe and reliable work environment

Up to 20% of employee turnover happens within their first 45 days. It’s the little things you do (or don’t do) that will determine how long someone stays with your company.

The first thing is to be very clear about your expectations. 

By equipping your drivers with clear expectations about their role and responsibilities, down to the smallest detail, you’ll have them feeling empowered and like there won’t be surprises that leave them saying, “I didn’t know that was part of my job.”

Fleet management policies to have in place

Clearly outline your company’s internal policies and compliance requirements. Some of the policies you should provide your drivers with include:

  • Driving safety standards
  • Accident filing
  • Annual reviews
  • Equipment maintenance and inspections

Providing so much information might feel unnecessary, but when people are informed, they feel engaged and in control. 

Fleet tracking technology can help you stay compliant and recognize high performers by giving a detailed look into behavior and safety scores, speeding and disturbance alerts. This tool empowers drivers to take control of their vehicles and feel like more than a cog in the wheel.

#5 Invest in training opportunities

A surefire way to retain employees is to provide them with growth opportunities. Consider helping drivers prepare or pay for driving exams for different vehicles. Create opportunities for your team to climb the ladder and supervise and train other drivers and technicians.

This shows them that you care about their professional development and that your company is one they can advance at—if they stay.

Improve your fleet management today

These fleet management driver retention programs can help you keep the costs of turnover down and improve driver retention. 

At the bare minimum, however, small businesses can start to reduce their turnover rates by creating a respectful work environment that makes fleet drivers feel like valued members of the team. 

When it comes to managing expectations and communicating compliance requirements, fleet management technology like Force Fleet Tracking can help to keep drivers and business owners connected, drivers empowered, and vehicles on the road. Because at the end of the day, if you can’t get to the site, you can’t do the job. 

Start a free, no-risk 14-day trial of Force Fleet Tracking to see if GPS fleet tracking technology is right for your business.

Published December 17, 2021
Joni Taisey
Joni Taisey
Director of Growth Marketing
Force Fleet Tracking