Second to drivers’ experiences at shipper and receiver facilities, auditing your drivers’ experience within your preferred truck stop networks should be a key pillar in promoting advocacy and appreciation for your professional drivers — and helping boost retention efforts industrywide.
Drivers regularly report conditions at truck stop parking lots and in-store facilities like bathrooms and showers as less than ideal or sometimes even untenable. Increasingly, there are fewer meal options at truck stops that aren’t fast food, and availability of safe parking options has plagued the industry and drivers for years.
Motor carriers spend millions of dollars annually at truck stop facilities. But fuel should be just one component of that relationship. Your drivers rely on truck stops for nourishment, rest, encouragement, and personal hygiene.
It behooves motor carriers and private fleets to regularly audit truck stop facilities and work with them to improve situations that lead to negative driver experiences that can push people away from the industry.
Scout facilities from your own perspective. When you enter a travel plaza, are you greeted in a friendly manner? Are the restrooms kept up properly? Are showers available and clean? What’s the state of the parking lot? Are trash cans available? Or are they overflowing and unusable? Can you easily find available fresh and nutritious meals? Or are there limited meal options outside of fast food, pizza, and other junk food?
If your experiences are negative in these areas during your travels — so are drivers’ experiences, and they have few if any alternatives to utilizing those facilities every day to eat, shower, and rest.
Engage with your contacts at truck stops on these issues. Find proactive ways to address your concerns and drivers’ concerns, and try to find workable plans to hold your truck stop partners accountable and to fix problems that you see and that drivers report. Help be a catalyst for positive momentum industrywide on these issues.
Lastly, look internally at your own facilities, too. Regularly audit your drivers’ experience at your headquarters and terminals. When you enter your company through the driver’s room or lounge, do you look around and feel pride in the way your facilities greet your people and the amenities available to them? If you don’t feel a sense of pride or comfort, neither do your drivers.
As we’ve examined all month in the NTI blog as part of our driver appreciation coverage, approaching these experiences from a driver’s point of view, with empathy and respect for their work and their day to day, is the root of expressing appreciation and gratitude and to instilling pride to work as a professional driver and at your fleet.
All month in the NTI blog, we’re celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week by offering tips and programs that fleets can incorporate to show year-around advocacy and appreciation for their drivers. Read more in the NTI blog.