Great idea, but why wait until it’s too late?
There’s no question that Exit Interviews can be an invaluable tool for improving driver retention. After all, you can’t address the valid reasons drivers are leaving your company until you know what they are. Having conducted more than 100 driver interviews myself over the years, I know one thing: Drivers will tell you what’s on their mind if you ask the right way.
Which is why the Exit Interview business is growing — and why smart companies are investing so much in the service: Because it works. And it saves them a lot of money. I’ve always been astounded by how much some companies will spend on recruiting, and how little they invest in retention — particularly when you consider the total company cost to replace a single driver.
All that said, as the title of this post indicates, I have to wonder why companies are paying good money for insights that come too late to stop drivers from leaving the company. Why not expand your interview program to include drivers who are still with the company? For starters, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that a significant percentage of unhappy drivers just want the opportunity to blow-off a little steam. In many cases, a well-timed, well-conducted call can make all the difference in a driver’s decision to stay or leave.
Longtime industry veteran Thom Pronk couldn’t agree more. “Interviewing not only gives drivers the opportunity to express their concerns with a company, it gives them the chance to ask important questions on their minds. For instance,” continues the HR VP at Birmingham-based Boyd Brothers, “a new driver may need help navigating the company’s corporate structure — much less understanding the expectations their new employer has for them.
Call Early And Often
“When you give new drivers that sounding board, they feel more like part of your family. We try to check-in with our drivers after 7 days, 14 days, 28 days and 90 days on the road with us. If you can get drivers to 90 days with your company, they’re a lot likelier to stick with you.”
Which is why, before Christmas this past year, all of Boyd Brothers’ managers were assigned 35 to 40 drivers to call, just to say, “We appreciate what you’re doing — which, we know, is the real work of this company. Is there anything else we can do for you?”
Effective Interviewing Tips
Tom believes you should follow a standard outline in conducting driver interviews. I agree with him, to an extent: You certainly need to cover all the key issues impacting a driver’s job satisfaction, and anyone who’s been in this business long enough knows what those issues are.
An Agenda’s Important, But . . .
Some of the most valuable information and feedback I’ve gathered over the years came-out because I let drivers direct the conversation. I like to make my questions open-ended — allowing drivers to take our conversations to places that really matter to them. Which is often far afield from those standard issues. Again, most drivers will tell you what’s on their mind if you ask them the right way — and that takes what I call good interviewer “radar,” which (to be perfectly honest) you either have or you don’t.
That’s one key reason why so many companies hire outside experts to conduct their driver interviewing. The other reason being that drivers often tend to be suspicious of their companies’ motives — and are a lot likelier to clam-up when called by someone on the “inside.”
At The End Of The Day, Talk Is Cheap.
Granted, you can’t act on every driver complaint. And yes, drivers are often satisfied just having the chance to blow-off steam. But a truly effective Exit Interview campaign has to start with a company-wide commitment to taking the actionable steps needed to improve driver retention.
What’s more, Exit Interviews are just one component of a comprehensive, proactive Driver Retention program. I’ll discuss those other components in my next post. In the meantime, you can Click Here for a preview.