How to recruit and keep the best drivers

Justyna Sodel, Director at NN1 Personnel, shares her insights on how hauliers can recruit and keep the best drivers.

Whilst the driver shortage is slowly easing, rising costs are still placing enormous pressure on haulage companies. The start of the year is always a good time to reflect on your current processes, not least of which those around recruitment, selection, and retention of your drivers. Let’s look at some of the crucial factors to consider that will help you get it right to save you lots of stress, money, and resources in the future.

Create a job advert that stands out

From our experience at NN1 Personnel, simply advertising a position isn’t enough. Often, it’s the drivers who sell the jobs. So don’t discount the power of word of mouth. In fact, consider incentivising it by introducing a recommendation or bonus scheme. But when you do advertise, here’s how you can attract the best talent:

  • Think about how your ad can stand out. Research has shown that you only have five seconds to grab someone’s attention. One way is to use striking images.
  • Don’t sell yourself, tell them what’s in it for the driver.
  • Make sure your ad is detailed and accurate.
  • Be clear about your expectations and requirements.
  • Be creative – use videos on social media in addition to job boards.

Get the best drivers on board

Advertising, recruiting, and training drivers is costly, but there will be times when you have to get new people in and let others go. When this is where you find yourself – having to replace a driver – always remember these basics:

  • Check your applicants’ references.
  • Have the right interview questions at hand.
  • Follow your instincts. If there is something about a CV that you’re unsure of, don’t be afraid to ask more questions and dig deeper.

Spending a bit more time and resources on recruitment and selection will eventually pay off by contributing to your company’s success and lowering team turnover.

When business is quiet, however, you may even find that the best option is to work with a trusted recruitment agency. This route offers more flexibility to pick and choose shifts to cover without having to worry about National Insurance, pension, and holiday costs, allowing you to save money in the long run.

Be quick

Drivers are in high demand. Make sure you reply to applications as quickly as possible. Don’t wait more than a week, or you’ll risk losing good candidates. Remember, having to start over with advertising costs money and time, and wastes valuable resources that could have served your business in another way. So, when in recruitment mode, have a one-touch approach.

Meet your applicants

In-person interviews are the best way to gauge whether or not a candidate is a good fit for the position and, importantly, for the culture of your company.

Look after your drivers

A significant part of my job involves listening to drivers’ feedback (and complaints). Believe me, it all matters! Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated. Drivers are no different. Things that may seem small are the very things that make a world of difference. For example:

  • A clean canteen
  • Fresh water in the drivers’ waiting area
  • Saying good morning, please and thank you
  • Getting to know your drivers and speaking to them regularly
  • Making eye contact when issuing paperwork
  • Checking in to clear up issues before they escalate
  • Sending a birthday card

All of these are ways to show respect, and it costs nothing.

Understand the real reasons why drivers leave

When a driver hands in their notice of resignation, you might automatically assume that they’ve received a better job opportunity for more money.

Sure, drivers are in demand, operators’ profit margins are tight, and there are big companies that offer wages that small companies simply can’t counter. But it would be wrong to think that quitting is always only about the money.

That’s why it’s important to talk to your drivers about their reasons for leaving; and exit interviews give you this opportunity. There may be issues that could have been addressed earlier but which you hear about for the first time when it’s too late.

While you may not be able to change their mind when they’ve already made their decision, you could gain valuable insights into what may prevent other drivers from leaving in future. And if you want to keep your best drivers, solving issues before they get worse is critical.

It may not even take much to turn things around. It may be as simple as finding ways to show the respect and appreciation you have for your drivers.

Expand your pool

Newly qualified drivers often struggle to find employment due to lack of experience. Depending on the insurance costs, you can help remove these barriers by lowering your age and experience requirements. In addition, here are three more ways to expand your driver pool:

  • Look beyond the traditional demographic for drivers.
  • Redesign your shift schedules by introducing split, part-time, and flexible shifts to accommodate more drivers.
  • Upskill other employees who show an interest in driving.

As Sir Richard Branson famously says, “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.” Getting the right drivers on board and looking after them reduces driver turnover, saves you money, and increases job satisfaction and loyalty so they remain invested in the success of your business for the long haul.

The Future of Road Haulage Report

This article is part of our recently published report, The Future of Road Haulage. Offering a comprehensive industry trends analysis, insights, and advice from industry thought leaders, The Future of Road Haulage equips businesses with the knowledge to make informed decisions and stay ahead in a rapidly evolving landscape.

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