An industry to which consumers might not give much thought truly powers our economy.
With the increase in online shopping, the trucking industry is feeling strained to the tune of 60,000 truck drivers. As a result, industries that rely on drivers with CDLs (commercial driver’s licenses) are feeling the squeeze, especially the food and beverage industry.
Say that a shipment of produce is late to a restaurant because a driver was unavailable. This means the restaurant not only can’t make one of its menu dishes, but it’s also at the risk of customers leaving because they can’t get what they want off of the menu.
A second example: What if a truck loaded with produce set for a grocery store doesn’t have a driver and arrives late? The produce might go bad in the time it takes to be delivered. Or, once it arrives, its absence might have already cost the grocery store sales.
What’s the food and beverage industry to do? The solution is to address the driver shortage by recruiting quality candidates and building driver loyalty. Here’s how.
Attract Quality Candidates
At a time when open positions outnumber the potential employees to fill them, a smooth application process can set a company apart. Look to the following attributes to create an optimal application experience.
Get to the point. So many online applications are full of redundancies. In addition to a resume attachment, employers often require applicants to input past work history manually. This draws out the application process, providing little incentive for drivers to complete all required information. The best solution for this problem is an applicant tracking system (ATS), which saves all candidate information across all touch points within an organization. That way, between the phone screen and an in-person interview, whoever is leading the discussion with the candidate already knows what’s been discussed, and has all background information at their fingertips.
Stay transparent. Using the internet, anyone can find out almost anything about any company. If an organization is looking for prospective drivers, it’s likely that a candidate has already searched for the company’s turnover history, compensation rates and what it’s like to work there. The best move for companies looking for drivers is to be open and honest, and share information readily. The practice gives drivers a solid understanding of the company, and allows them to bring any concerns to the table before getting too far along in the hiring process, only to revoke their applications.
Build Driver Loyalty
Hire the right people. Making sure they stay, and building loyalty to the organization, is the next step.
Create strong relationships. In a job seeker’s market, employers need to make strong connections with employees from the moment they’re hired. That means taking the lead with drivers through proactively reaching out for feedback, consistently evaluating the employee’s level of engagement, and providing training and tools. Such interactions show commitment to the driver, and build loyalty.
Aim for face-to-face. In a world where digital communication dominates, never underestimate the value of a face-to-face (or phone) conversation. Once a driver is hired, maintain regular check-ins to discuss both work and personal lives. Drivers can feel isolated when they’re on the road, and taking the time to touch base offline will create a stronger rapport than if those relationships are left to digital communication.
Provide feedback. Part of maintaining a strong organization is striving to consistently improve experiences for customers and employees. To do this, feedback is necessary, but employees can be wary of sharing it. In order to dispel any negative connotation associated with feedback, make it part of the everyday workflow. Encourage drivers to submit constructive ideas and implement changes where appropriate. When they see that their feedback is taken seriously, they’ll continue sharing and feel appreciated. Putting improvements into action speaks volumes about the integrity of a company, while building value-based relationship with drivers.
At the end of the day, it’s all about creating strong relationships. Improving the application experience for CDL drivers will help the food and beverage industry to maintain a strong level of performance. Instead of a roadblock, the driver shortage can simply be a hurdle to overcome, with the help of the right relationship-building techniques.
Steve Iskander is chief growth officer at DriverReach, a provider of recruiting management software for the trucking industry.