Why and How to Set Proper Expectations with New Drivers

new drivers

Setting proper expectations with new drivers is a crucial part of driver assimilation. For every 100 drivers you hire, you’ll have to rehire 80 of them, and a large number of turnovers happen within the first 90 days of employment. If drivers feel things “click” within 90 days, they’ve assimilated successfully. If they don’t, they haven’t.

Why and How to Set Proper Expectations with New Drivers

So what runs new drivers off? 

Often, it’s a failure to communicate. Paying drivers enough tells them that they’re valuable, in a concrete way. Not paying enough says the opposite. Similarly, a failure to communicate honestly, consistently, and relevantly is a failure to communicate a driver’s value. 

Drivers are likely to leave when:

Recruitment looks like one thing…  

You want to generalize, so you’re not eliminating too many candidates. Or you stretch the truth on salary, given that drivers can afford to be much pickier than you. Or, you only describe the appealing parts of the job. But that’s not going to pay off in the long run. You’re not just looking to hire and fill roles; you’re looking to form a good relationship and keep people. 

 …the job looks like another.

Drivers looking for jobs are given one set of information, but when they get on the ground, they find a different reality. Drivers don’t like surprises. 

For example, if you run an ad that says, “First-year income $40,000-60,000,” the driver will see and remember the “$60,000.”  Even though you’re not lying, you’re not setting up that driver for success. You’re setting him or her up for disappointment and frustration. 

So when you’re advertising a first-year salary, for example, make it clear what the average salary is, and be more exact.

Be Honest and Transparent.

Be 100% as honest as you can about the job when you are advertising, as well as when you’re training and onboarding a new driver. The whole recruiting and training process needs to clearly describe what the job is so that you’re matching driver expectations with reality

You’re also letting them know your expectations for them, so you’re not unpleasantly surprised, either. You do NOT want to hire an unqualified driver! If you lose a driver within 90 days, they’ve just cost you an average of $8,000-12,000 in advertising, background checks, record-keeping, training/orientation, and lack of experience. 

Practice What You Preach.

If you put something in a job description, you need to follow through. If you’re not accountable to your driver, you’re not communicating his or her value. 

Here’s an example. When you describe the nature of the work hours required, how are you describing home time? If you’re telling drivers they’ll be out for two weeks, but in reality, you’re often asking for three weeks, you’re setting yourself up to lose drivers. It’s not what they signed on for. 

But what if you describe a “typical” run as two weeks, and include a mention of the possibility of a three-week request, “up to 5 times a year?” It may not be everyone’s ideal circumstance, but if that’s your reality, drivers will appreciate knowing what they’re signing on for. It shows respect, prevents misunderstandings, and communicates that you value the right drivers.

Customize Training for New Drivers.

Companies are desperate for CDL drivers, and there are days when just a clean record looks like a good fit. But that doesn’t mean the driver will thrive. Drivers that struggle, feel misled, or are unprepared for the role are going to feel frustrated and unhappy.  

For example, build ads and job training to look different for dry vans than for tankers. It’s a whole different ball game for each of these. Hauling HAZMAT is not the same as hauling baby diapers! It’s worth it to customize training to the job.

Check out the Infinit-I Workforce Solutions Flexible Training Model

Show “A Day in the Life.”

Some drivers might think they have the chops for a certain role, and then after taking it, they find it’s not their thing. 

Create training content that shows prospective drivers “A Day in the Life” of the role they’re applying for. That way they’ll know ahead of time the answer to questions like: How often will I get a chance to get home? How long will I stay out? What kind of freight will I haul? Who are my customers?  What are some of the unique physical demands of this job?

Reduce surprises and reduce turnover!

Partner New Drivers with Another Driver.

Pair up a new driver with a mentor or driver trainer. Handpick veteran drivers who are very safe, with a good background. This way, you’re building driver success and relationship. New drivers have the opportunity to ask questions and get assimilated a little more quickly. 

Be consistent!

Get new drivers to the 90-day threshold, and it’s easier to keep them for a year or more. 

Infinit-I Workforce Solutions is a great way to bring consistency and accountability to your communication during that crucial 90 days and beyond. 800+ online training module options give you the ability to onboard a variety of drivers with individual training plans while cutting classroom costs. We’ll also help you distribute any custom content you need. 

With our system, we make it easy to send messages to all drivers and to check in with them at 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals. With thorough training, clarity, frequency, and relevant topics, you’re connecting with new drivers and demonstrating their value

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