On Target 4 – Training drivers

Allow me to explain the economics of training my own drivers from car licence level. Many of my fellow operators tell me they can’t afford to train drivers, instead relying on others to do it; or have potential drivers self-funding to get their ticket.

I look at it this way; some employees change jobs for perfectly sound reasons, but some leave before they are shoved. Anyone joining you to train as a driver is joining you because they want to join, not because they want to put something behind them.

Here are my central tenets of training drivers, and how I rationalise the costs.

Create a driving Instructor

We all have a driver who has been with us for a while, drives well and might be keen to move up the ladder and train to be a driving instructor. So invest a little, get them qualified and they can train your new recruits. Give them a pay increase, but otherwise this costs very little, as they can be training when there is less work.

They can also do your CPC training; even a smaller operator can likely justify one person to train others and ensure compliance, especially if they also drive in service.

Pay trainees

Don’t expect your new recruits to work for nothing while training; those days are long gone. Instead, expect to pay them the going rate or possibly a trainee rate, but bear in mind they have lives too and need to pay rent. Allow a full four weeks to train and induct, after which it is all down to gaining experience. But don’t throw recent recruits who’ve passed their test in at the deep end; break them in gently and you won’t frighten them off.

Create a training vehicle

Use one of your fleet, put some L plates on it and you are ready to go, but make sure your insurance covers you for driver training. Dedicate one vehicle to ensure consistency, as there is nothing worse than changing the vehicle for the trainee the day before the test.

Look at the costs

Yes, there’s a cost for training but my home-spun drivers tend to stay with me long-term, so it’s probably not as big a cost as you might think, spread over their career (and thus, the time they will earn money for you).

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My costings

Annual additional cost for your driver/trainer                                              £6,000 per annum

Assume 12 trainees each year                                                                           £500 per trainee

Trainee pay for four weeks (£25,000pa + 13% employer costs)                £2,354

Fuel and running cost of training vehicle 1,200 miles                                £1,000

Test fees including driver card                                                                         £255 per trainee

If we assume three trainees for each course, this amounts to £3,442 per trainee, so annual cost for 12 new drivers is £41,307. Let’s assume 50% drop out, for whatever reason, during training, therefore £6,884 for each new driver.

My drivers earn on average £28,000 each year, so cost to me, as their employer, is £31,640pa. Cost to train therefore is a little over 21% of their first-year salary. However, in my experience my trainees stay long-term, so over ten years, the investment amounts to just £688 per year. Put another way, if I can’t man a vehicle through a shortage of drivers, it still costs an average of £62.50 a day in depreciation alone, so ten days idle costs much the same.

This example is pessimistic; if your training is good and the prize at the end worth having, you might not lose 50% of trainees. Also, you might have a refundable training bond to claim back costs, and your instructor might also deliver other training, further saving if you presently contract out CPC at an average of £70 per person, for seven hours’ training. Constantly replacing drivers who leave also incurs a cost, maybe loss of clients, especially when a driver has the arse on his/her last day at work, and just doesn’t care!

The benefits? Drivers trained to your way of working and quality standards, no inherited bad habits and chips on shoulders and the ability to fully utilise your fleet. It certainly works for me. Investment in people is seldom wasted and brings long term benefits.

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