Article

Driver-Router Harmony. No Therapy Required

One of the challenges for routers involves developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with drivers, a factor that can have a major impact on a company’s driver retention rate.

Stay Metrics, a research-based company investigating the reasons for driver turnover, released their findings from a driver satisfaction survey they conducted in 2012.  According to TheTrucker.com, the survey revealed a number of reasons why drivers leave their jobs, including career advancement and better pay elsewhere. But a significant number of drivers cited physical and psychological stress on the job.

Dr. Ying Cheng, a developer of the survey and Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of Notre Dame, said, “We found quite a lot of [driver] dissatisfaction with dispatchers. This measure of driver-dispatcher relations is one of the key predictors of drivers at risk of leaving the industry.”

Cheng suggests that employers identify drivers who are experiencing issues with their dispatchers. “They may find that they have a dispatcher problem, not a driver problem, especially given that the decision to quit may be event driven.”

Working in the transportation industry, you’ve likely witnessed more than a few examples of tension between drivers and dispatchers and drivers and routers. You may have even noticed that the reasons for the conflict in these instances were oftentimes identical.

For routers, getting driver acceptance of delivery decisions made through the use of routing software can be a challenge, especially when introducing the software into a company for the first time. Drivers often feel as though their first-hand knowledge of their routes and customers is being discounted by the router and is essentially not being taken into consideration as a factor in the decisions the router — via routing software — is making. Scenarios like these can be quite common, and can become the starting point for conflict that can end with the driver deciding to leave the company. The question, then, becomes: how can such situations be avoided?

The most important area to address is communication. Many drivers in the Stay Metrics survey stated that dispatchers did not listen to their recommendations and suggestions, and such a complaint has equally been leveled against routers. Drivers can provide extremely helpful information to routers. A good router will listen to his or her drivers and take their suggestions into consideration when creating standard routes and making day-to-day decisions during nightly routing. Sometimes the driver’s input is helpful, sometimes not.

It is important that, when a driver suggestion does not work, the router communicate this information to the driver and provide reasons why it was not helpful. “I gave the router a suggestion, but I never saw a change,” is a common complaint with drivers. Follow-up in these cases — praising a driver for a good suggestion and an explanation then their suggestion is not helpful — provides the driver with closure and a sense that their opinion and experience is valued, and they will be more willing to provide feedback and suggestions if they feel the router respects their input.

Cultivating respectful, professional relationships with drivers can pay big dividends for routers, ultimately making their job much easier and helping the company maximize driver retention.