On Target 3 – Recruiting drivers
Note I said ‘outside of our industry,’ not pinching someone else’s driver, who already has a PCV licence. Ask yourself why any halfway good driver would move to you from another local company, unless you pay significantly more (unlikely), you have different work which is more attractive to him or her (could be). It’s more likely they have fallen out with their previous employer. So… you just ask for a reference, right? That will tell me what they are like. Wrong. A verbal reference might tell you more, but written references often don’t tell the truth; in fact the best way to get rid of someone is to give a good reference. If you are a good employer, you won’t lose staff, unless they die, retire or move away.
The pool of licenced PCV drivers, including the SWAs (Steering Wheel Attendants) is reducing due to death, retirement, less new blood and the driver’s CPC, especially for those who work ad-hoc. Couple that with a future Labour government promising to immediately abolish zero hours contracts, means that the coach industry’s saviour, the part-time driver who works flexibly to cover peaks will no longer be possible. I know I can’t promise regular work to my part-timers; it is often all or nothing for my customers, and I am sure yours are the same.
The only snag is they don’t have a PCV licence. No problem. Train them
We have all seen the demise of the High Street. It is constantly in the headlines, from Woolworths ten years ago to HMV more recently. They reckon over 1.5 million retail workers have been made redundant over that period. Well here’s the thing; I have employed some of them and left the rest for you! They have everything I need. They work with people, they work strange hours, they are on their feet all day (I offer a very nice seat) and they don’t get paid much (I offer a much better deal). The only snag is they don’t have a PCV licence. No problem. Train them to drive a bus or coach. Half won’t get on with it, but half will and have passed an ‘extended interview’ in the process. If, during training, they are late, scruffy, have an attitude or any other of my pet hates, they go. Those who are left, became among my best drivers, and they wonder why they didn’t drive coaches years ago.
As an industry, we are too reliant on not training for the key requirement to getting into the industry, instead relying on those who have a licence already. I know of no other sector that doesn’t build training into their recruitment and retention process. Maybe that’s why the industry has a shortage of its most important asset. It costs money, but then so does turning away work or losing bus mileage because you don’t have a driver available. The cost of training, in comparison to the wage bill is very small and could prove to be a lifetime investment. Over 80% of my drivers were recruited from car licence level and have never worked in our industry other than with me.
If you know your local retailer is closing, get in touch with their HR department, they would love to hear from you. Tell them you can offer a great career, promote your company, go in and meet the people affected. As an industry, we only need a fraction of the 1.5 million retail leavers to solve the driver crisis, what’s not to like?