In the retail space, the concept of the “mystery shopper” has been around for years. Someone goes into a store to evaluate the experience of shopping there unbeknownst to the team members. The objective is to find out if the store is welcoming to shoppers. Does it feel good to be a shopper at this store? Retail executives want to know this because if shoppers feel good, they’re more likely to come back.
As Chief Administrative Officer at Stay Metrics, I spend a lot of time thinking about physical space and hospitality. It’s part of my job to make sure our employees have a good work environment. Their productivity and willingness to stay with the company depend on it. My fellow co-founder Tim Hindes recently wrote on how drivers leave carriers “because they can.” There’s not a great reason for a driver to stay at a carrier that doesn’t have a great culture. This got me thinking …
When a driver walks into your office, what happens next?
Are your main offices and terminals welcoming environments for drivers? Is your team happy to see them or do they keep their heads down and avoid interacting with them? If you had a “mystery driver” come into your terminal and evaluate the experience, how would you fare? While this might not be possible for every carrier to pull off, you can still take significant steps to improve your driver experience once you start thinking about the terminal in this way. I have gathered a collection of “DOs” and “DON’Ts” to help carriers create welcoming environments for drivers in their offices.
DO: Have an open office for drivers
One of the best examples of a welcoming environment for drivers I have seen was a terminal where drivers come into an open office space with large, easy-to-read signs above employees in each department: Driver Services, Safety, Human Resources, etc. This is a welcoming design for drivers because they can find exactly who they are looking for in the office easily, and the open office design allows drivers to feel welcome to approach these team members because they are not closed off. Drivers appreciate when their time and concerns are respected.
DON’T: Use a driver counter or window
I agree with Mark Murrell from CarriersEdge that the driver counter or window is an unnecessary and unwelcoming practice. Forcing drivers to interact with one reception employee and not allowing them into the office proper creates a strong separation between drivers and every other person at your company. It can feel like they are picking up an order at a pharmacy or visiting a DMV, not that they are a valuable part of your business. If this is the way you interact with drivers at your terminals and you have high turnover, changing this practice is a great first step to improve retention.
DO: Encourage your team to eat and socialize in a shared space with drivers
I think all of us who have been in the working world for any length of time know that the strongest relationships we create among coworkers are those with whom we share social experiences. When your team members from all departments make an effort to be around drivers during meals and breaks, those relationships will naturally form. If a driver has friends among your terminal staff members, you can bet they are going to feel welcome when they walk through the door.
DON’T: Let drivers leave without hearing they are appreciated
Many drivers come into the office very infrequently. Every face-to-face encounter with them is a rare opportunity simply to say, “Thanks!” That’s all it takes to make a difference. At Stay Metrics, we believe in the power of individualized gratitude and recognition. One of the most powerful award classes in our rewards programs is the applause award. This award can be given to a driver for anything, and the carrier can put in a personalized message letting a driver know he or she is appreciated for something specific, like picking up a difficult load or providing an excellent
customer experience on a delivery. I recommend asking your office staff to report on the number of drivers they have personally thanked each week. Even if you do not have a specific goal in mind, just asking them to tell you will naturally inspire them to do so more often.
These are just a few of the ways you can ensure that your office space is welcoming to drivers. When done well, these practices can serve as powerful tools in your journey to increase driver retention. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, drivers cannot be in your office all the time. That’s just not how the job works. I invite you to think about how a Stay Metrics rewards and engagement program can help you extend the hospitality you create in your office to the digital space, allowing it to follow your drivers wherever the road takes them.