Talk with your drivers, not at them
What role do your drivers hold in your company? If you think they simply carry freight from Point A to Point B, you’re wrong. Incredibly wrong. They are integral to your company in many ways – with customers, vendors, and others – and each impacts your bottom line. According to Harvard Business Review, the cost of poor communication to companies is:
- Companies with disengaged employees have a turnover rate of 34%, and
- An average of 12% of working time is wasted due to avoidable inefficiency.
Effective communication and employee engagement increase productivity by up to 25%. As the corporate leader, if you don’t communicate well with your drivers, they are less engaged, and their actions will impact your bottom line. They are the lifeline of your company. If they are happy, customers are happy, vendors are happy, and the company thrives. Consider the following ways communication with professional drivers impacts your company’s bottom line:
|How good communication with drivers helps your bottom line||How poor communication with drivers impacts your bottom line|
|Customers||Continue or increase buying from you, more apt to pay bills on time||Decrease or stop buying from you, less apt to pay bills on time|
|Vendors||Could offer discounts, deliver early or consistently on time, could offer new products sooner||Could upsell needlessly, deliver late intentionally, or keep new products from you|
|Others||Community supports the company, and your corporate reputation attracts better employees, vendors, and customers||The community doesn’t know about the company or doesn’t support it, your company’s reputation does not attract better employees, vendors, or customers|
Start talking with your professional drivers, not at them. “Traditional corporate communication must give way to a process that is more dynamic and more sophisticated. Most important, that process must be conversational,” reports Harvard Business Review. You can communicate more conversationally whether your budget is high or low or if you have a few or many employees. Use current resources. The following offers ideas to communicate with your professional drivers. Choose just one and start today. You’ll see the benefits on your bottom line.
- In the truck. Reach the professional drivers where they are. Don’t expect them to come to you, especially at first. Rather, go to them often and regularly. You need to build trust with them. If they don’t think you consider them integral to the corporate team or vision, there’s no reason for them to commit to either.
- Start your own company podcast. Address their needs. Share company information. Interview professional drivers. Interview others with the company.
- Provide a magnet with each truck with company phone numbers any driver may need for emergencies. Include road service numbers as well as your company’s mental health resource, your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
- Use your in-cab communication systems. Allow them to use its technology rather than require it. Provide them educational tools to learn it if needed. Don’t micromanage its use. The in-cab communication system makes their lives easier and driving safer. They will realize this, appreciate and use it, and your company will benefit – by building trust with the drivers. Trust leads to a stronger bottom line.
- Via the phone. Everyone has a cell phone. Use it. Let it benefit the company.
- Text your drivers. When they reply, text back. Of course, they shouldn’t text while driving, so be patient awaiting their replies. Encourage voice recording for texting.
- Call them. Talk with each driver. Call one each day. Ask how he (or she) is doing. Leave a message if there is no answer. Use the call to build trust with him or her. Don’t use the call to unload corporate information.
- Give them (branded) earbuds to use and of course, reminding them how to safely use them in accordance with company policy and safety regulations.
- Give them your personal phone number. Whether you are the CEO of a small fleet or the Fleet Manager of a larger fleet, assure them they can call you 24/7. Then, answer the phone.
- With each other. According to Gallup, higher levels of employee engagement result in 41% lower absenteeism, 17% higher productivity, 24% lower turnover, and 21% higher profitability.
- Match newer drivers with experienced drivers. Include it in their job responsibility to connect with the other at least once a month. That’s all. You can’t force a relationship. Instead, the company can create a supportive environment.
- Offer a Facebook Group for your professional drivers. Have someone in fleet management moderate group discussions.
- Encourage them to use the CB radio. It may be considered an old form of communication, but it works. Besides, every driver should be able to use it for safety where cell phone coverage fades. Plus, it builds relationships with others on the road and locals in the area.
- Through corporate communications. Communicate with your employees. All of them. Give them what they deserve – timely, consistent, and up-to-date information.
- Have several company representatives communicate with professional drivers. It’s everyone’s job to communicate, not just dispatch’s. More touchpoints with the company helps drivers understand and remember they are part of a team.
- Invite them to communicate with corporate. Create an email address every trucker can use for any reason. Two examples are [email protected] or [email protected] Make it easy to remember, and have a staff person ready to answer it 24/7.
- Send drivers – and all employees – the company news, newsletters, and updates.
- Create online videos for professional drivers. The Fleet Manager can record one or two videos per week and send them via text or email. Or use Facebook Live to do the same thing – while offering live interaction. Invite a corporate leader periodically. Increase these during times of crisis or transition.
- Brag about your drivers in corporate communications. (Let them know beforehand!)
You already know more than you may have thought. Companies of every size can communicate better with their professional drivers. “The Cost of Poor Communications” author David Grossman reported companies with 100,000 employees or more averaged a loss of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees. In a separate article, “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” Debra Hamilton stated miscommunication costs smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year. To avoid these losses, invest in internal communications with your professional drivers. You will:
- Increase profitability
- Decrease employee turnover
- Increase efficiency
- Increase productivity
The Consultancy is a GMTA Affiliate Member. It provides marketing, sales, and communications services. Save yourself time. Allow The Consultancy to do the work for you or to teach you to do it. Schedule a time to talk with your Consultancy Representative at your convenience.