Keeping drivers at top of mind

April 19, 2018 By    

At the National Propane Gas Association’s Southeastern Convention & Propane Expo, David Lowe spoke about recruiting, training and retaining talented bobtail drivers. Photo by Allison Barwacz.

Being efficient is critical when it comes to keeping your company ahead of the competition. But what’s the best way to maintain heightened efficiency?

One of the best strategies is to keep your bobtail drivers motivated, happy and content.

Everything starts and ends with your bobtail drivers – from propane deliveries to customer service to truck maintenance – which is why recruiting, training and retaining them should be a top priority.

David Lowe, vice president of sales at Pro Image Communications, offered some tips for mastering these tasks at the National Propane Gas Association’s 2018 Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo, which took place April 6-8 in Atlanta.

Recruiting

Even if you’re not hiring at the moment, keep in mind a list of places where you can find potential workers, such as high schools, technical schools and colleges. Compile a roster of potential drivers that were referred to you by current and former employees.

It’s important to update this pool on a regular basis and use it to determine where you can make improvements in your workforce.

“You have to weed out and continually be looking at your existing group and either improving them or removing them, as hard as that is,” Lowe says.

When you begin the hiring process, make sure to post your job openings on the internet, whether it be on a recruiting website like Indeed.com or LinkedIn. As younger generations enter the workforce, it’s important to keep in mind the ways they’ll be searching for and finding jobs.

In addition, set yourself apart from other companies by accommodating your potential employees. If they have to fly in for their interviews, pay for their flights or hotels. Make them feel important.

Training

Once you’ve established a talented workforce, make sure they’re properly trained and understand your company’s values.

“There’s a great deal of denial in this industry,” Lowe says. “[We seem to hear] ‘It’s okay. I’m good enough.’ In my background, enough was never enough. Culture starts and stops at the top.”

Develop a company culture that embraces change and a strong work ethic. You don’t want to accept employee complacency – constantly offer your employees new ways to improve themselves and lead by example. Attend training sessions to show your employees how important they are to you, as well. Offering your employees training will allow them to improve their skills and, in turn, improve the overall efficiency of your company.

“Do not let your comfortable and dependable driver position today drive your resistance to change or to maximize/optimize your driver value,” Lowe adds.

There’s always more to learn, especially as new technologies enter the industry.

Retention

Bobtail drivers are known for working long hours in freezing temperatures and less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Let your hard-working drivers know you appreciate them by giving them time off that they request and rewarding their hard work.

“You need to constantly be working toward finding the next star and you need to be continually taking care of the stars,” Lowe says. “By raising the bar through the stars, the mediocrity of just showing up eliminates itself.”

This also means making sure your entire staff is working hard – not just a select few – and taking action if someone isn’t carrying their weight.

“You have to make concessions, and you have to make those decisions – as hard as they are –for your workforce,” Lowe adds. “Don’t treat everyone equally. Treat everyone fairly.”

Your drivers will undoubtedly notice if they’re being treated unfairly, whether they’re being underpaid, working long hours or simply putting more effort into their jobs than others. Making sure you maintain a fair, hard-working culture at your company will entice them to stick around.

About the Author:

Allison Barwacz is the digital media content producer for LP Gas magazine. Contact her at abarwacz@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3796.

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