How to Hire and Retain Delivery Drivers

May 11, 2023

Almost anything can be delivered nowadays — from groceries to restaurant food, clothing, and even furniture. Delivery services are in high demand, and that means delivery drivers are too. In fact, 2019 data from The American Transportation Research Institute showed that driver retention was among the top concerns in the industry, for both commercial drivers and motor carriers. The American Trucking Associations found that driver turnover rate increased in 2020 to 92% in large truckload carriers. In both studies, the data showed that driver compensation and hours of service contributed to low retention rates.

So, if every delivery service is competing to hire delivery drivers, how do you stand out as an attractive employer? And once you’ve found good drivers, how do you retain them? In this post we’ll outline a six-step process that will help you find the right drivers for your delivery business. We’ll also look at why retention is a problem, and suggest some strategies for beating the competition.

Step-by-step process of hiring delivery drivers

Your strategy for filling delivery driver positions has a huge impact on the overall success of your delivery team. Here are six steps you can take to develop a winning driver hiring process:

1. Research the market

Researching your local market will help you Identify the skills and experience needed for the job, as well as any certifications or licenses required in the industry. For example, do you want to hire someone with their own vehicle, or to drive a vehicle that you own? Do you need someone with a commercial driver’s licence (CDL) or will a regular licence do? 

For instance, if you are looking for a full-time food delivery driver, find candidates who are familiar with the delivery process involved in online ordering. If you are looking for a truck driver for a short-term project, find a job seeker who is an independent contractor. You should also do your research on the salary range and benefits packages your competitors are offering (a CDL driver might draw a higher wage, for example). Deciding what perks to offer will also help attract the best talent.

2. Create an attractive job description

Next, create a job posting that will help attract the best talent. Your delivery driver job description should reflect the duties and responsibilities of the position. Include unique qualities that make the job attractive, such as flexible hours or competitive pay. Here’s an example of an attractive job description:

  • Introduce your company: “We are XYZ Delivery Services, looking for a delivery driver to be a part of our growing business! Here at XYZ we make sure each person is able to grow as an individual and contribute to our success.”
  • List the responsibilities of the delivery driver. “We are looking for someone who can:
    • Deliver to each customer safely, on time and in good condition.
    • Treat each customer and team member with respect.
    • Inspect delivery vehicles during the loading and unloading process.
    • Work well with a team.
    • Record delivery logs in a timely manner.”
  • Highlight the benefits your company provides: “We offer a competitive compensation package that is on par with the best companies in the industry. We will give you paid time off, family and emergency leaves, paid overtime, and awesome training opportunities so you can move up the ranks and grow with us.”
  • List the qualifications and requirements you are looking for in your delivery driver: “We are looking for someone with:
    • High school diploma or GED
    • Valid driver's license and a clean driving record
    • Experience working as a delivery driver
    • Communication and interpersonal skills
    • Familiarity with local routes and highways.”
  • End your job description with a brief call to action: “Send in your resume today so we can have a chat about why you are the best fit for the position. You may contact us at (enter your phone number and email here). We look forward to speaking with you soon!”

Employers often overlook the importance of an attractive job description, but creating one that reflects the work environment and its benefits can help convince more candidates to apply.

3. Advertise available delivery driver jobs in the right places

Nowadays, job advertisements are often placed online. You can use social media websites, job boards like LinkedIn, and other delivery service-related websites. But this can be a hit-or-miss approach, as you may not find the best candidates on the internet. Thus, consider placing a job ad in local newspapers. You can distribute flyers around town as well and ask your network for referrals, especially if you are looking for more seasoned drivers. This will give you more visibility and allow you to hire from within the community.

4. Screen driver candidates

Once you have identified potential candidates, use screening tools to assess them. This can include background checks, reference checks, and testing for drug and alcohol use. Don’t forget to check that the applicant has a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record!

Even though you may be in a rush to hire someone, be sure that you don't skip the screening process. Or else, you may end up with an unsuitable candidate who will only stay with your company for a few weeks.

5. Conduct interviews

Use structured interview questions to get a good sense of the candidate's experience, skills, and personality. You may conduct your interview in-person, or do an online or phone interview. Whichever you choose, be sure that it adheres to your hiring process and the standards you have set.

Ask open-ended questions to get more detailed responses. You can also use role-playing scenarios to test their problem-solving skills. For instance, what would the candidate do if the vehicle suddenly malfunctions in the middle of a trip? What will they do if they unintentionally drop off the package at the wrong address? Remember that delivery drivers often deal with difficult customer situations like these. So, ensuring that your chosen candidate has the right personality for this type of full-time job is important. 

6. Onboard new drivers

Onboarding is an important part of hiring and retaining employees. Once you send a job offer letter to your new hire, the next step is to ensure they understand your policies and procedures so they can hit the ground running.

Answer all FAQs that come with the job. Common questions include the number of hours, dress code, benefits, and career advancement opportunities. This will ensure your drivers are well-equipped to handle every aspect of their roles. If you onboard your employee well, they will be more likely to stay with your company for longer. This is because they know what you expect from them, as well as the potential rewards they can earn.

By taking the time to hire and onboard delivery drivers, you can ensure that your team is productive and successful. With these strategies in place, you should be able to reduce turnover rates and retain your best employees for the long term.

Understanding driver retention in delivery services

As a business owner or delivery manager, you’ve probably heard all about the importance of employee retention. But why exactly is it so important?

Employee retention involves creating an environment that encourages employees to stay with your business and feel proud of their work. This includes providing competitive pay, rewards, and benefits packages, as well as a healthy working environment. The benefits of having a high retention rate include:

  • Always having access to the skills and experience needed to operate your business efficiently
  • Experienced, effective employees need less supervision
  • Saving on costly hiring and training expenses
  • Higher productivity and morale
  • More consistent service
  • A better customer experience.

In a delivery business, retaining delivery drivers over the long term also means they will be more familiar with your routes and delivery points. This helps to reduce delivery times and ensure that each item arrives safely at its destination. 

Finally, employee retention leads to a more stable work environment and allows for better long-term planning.

The opposite of high retention is high turnover — and the cost of that is high! A typical estimate is that the cost of a single worker leaving is 1.5 to 2 times their annual salary.

Why is it hard to retain delivery drivers?

The delivery services industry is a highly competitive field. It’s often difficult to keep the best employees, for several reasons:

  • Long working hours
  • Low pay
  • Industry dependence on part-time and contract drivers
  • Limited opportunities for career development or personal growth

Under these conditions, it’s no wonder many delivery drivers will move the moment they find a better opportunity in terms of pay, hours or both. That means it’s up to employers to come up with ways to better support their drivers.

How to improve driver retention

Retaining employees can be daunting, especially in the delivery services industry. But there are several best practices that you can adopt:

Offer a competitive compensation and benefits package

Companies looking to stay ahead of HR trends should prioritize retention. You can attract and retain delivery drivers through competitive compensation and other incentives. Include health insurance, paid time off, bonuses and incentives, and other types of benefits.

Hiring drivers is already a challenging task. So, being able to offer a competitive compensation and benefits package can help you attract and retain the best workers.

Provide opportunities for career development and advancement

The lack of job security and career development opportunities is a big problem in the delivery services industry, but there’s no reason for delivery driving to be a dead-end job! Here are some ways to upskill your drivers, and to make them more valuable to your business in the process:

  • Cross-training and job rotation: Enhance drivers' skill sets by training them in various other aspects of the delivery business to increase their versatility and value. This could include fleet maintenance and management, route planning and dispatch, or warehouse operations.
  • Leadership development programs: Prepare drivers for supervisory or managerial roles through workshops, seminars, or online courses focused on leadership skills.
  • Certification programs: Encourage drivers to pursue industry-specific certifications to increase their knowledge and value. Here’s a list of relevant certifications offered in the United States by the National Safety Council, the National Traffic Safety Institute, and the National American Transportation Management Institute.
  • Mentorship programs: Pair experienced drivers with newer employees for guidance, support, and knowledge sharing.
  • Recognize achievements: Publicly acknowledge the accomplishments of drivers, creating a sense of pride and motivation.
  • Encourage participation in industry events: Sponsor drivers to attend conferences, workshops, or networking events to stay updated on industry trends and gain new insights.

Foster a supportive work environment and company culture

A positive work environment can help encourage employee loyalty and reduce turnover rates. Create a supportive work environment and company culture. Acknowledge your employees' efforts, and provide feedback and recognition. Promote collaboration and team-building activities to build team unity. And last but not least, provide a safe space for employees to voice their concerns.

Recognize and reward high-performing drivers

Recognizing and rewarding high-performing employees is another best practice for improving employee retention. This can include bonuses, promotions, public recognition, or other perks that show your appreciation for a job well done! By recognizing their efforts, you are showing your employees that you value their contributions. 

Encourage effective communication and feedback

Effective communication and feedback can be key to improving employee retention. Your delivery managers must provide direct feedback on performance. They must also request feedback from employees about their experiences. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that you maintain open lines of communication with your team. 

How to implement a driver retention strategy

Once you’ve decided you want to improve employee retention in your delivery services business, you might still face some trouble implementing your new strategy. Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Analyze your current employee retention rate and identify areas that need improvement.
  • Listen to the feedback from your employees and use it as a basis for developing change. 
  • Plan your implementation.
  • Allocate resources to the project so it has a fair chance of success.
  • Regularly measure the impact of your strategies. 

How to measure the success of your driver retention strategy

Once you have implemented your retention strategies, it is important to measure their success. You can do this by tracking changes in employee engagement, turnover rates, and productivity levels over time. This will help you identify areas where the strategies work or need improvement. Additionally, use employee feedback to determine how satisfied they are with the changes that have been made. 

By taking the time to measure the success of your strategies, you can make adjustments as needed. This will ensure that your retention efforts are paying off in the long run. Improving employee retention is a process, but with regular assessment and commitment, you can help your delivery services business become even more successful.

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Katie Pierce
Katie Pierce is a teacher-slash-writer who loves telling stories to an audience, whether it’s bored adults in front of a computer screen or a bunch of hyperactive 4-year-olds. Writing keeps her sane (most of the time) and allows her to enjoy some quiet time in the evening before she walks into a room of screaming kids (all of whom she loves dearly) the next morning.

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