Towing is a tough business. It can be incredibly difficult to keep quality drivers, and perhaps even more difficult to keep the drivers that you do have engaged. I was able to spend some time with Kelly Kinsey of Lake County Tow in Clairmont, FL, to ask her how she finds, retains, and rewards her employees, as well as what she's found to work with her newer millennial drivers and applicants.
Agero: First, some basics. Tell me about your business.
Kelly: Lake County Tow has been around for five-and-a-half years, and I handle a bit of everything here. I guess you could consider me to be the Operations Manager - taking care of dispatching, HR, finances - lots of things! We currently have 14 employees.
Agero: How do you find new employees?
Kelly: We post jobs on Indeed.com, Facebook, and Craigslist. Our manager also uses the tow forums on Facebook to let other people in our industry know when we're looking for drivers.
Agero: We know that it's a job seeker market right now, so drivers have a ton of choices for companies looking to hire, what do you think sets you apart from your competition?
Kelly: I think we have a really competitive package for new hires: we have a competitive base salary, commission pay, and annual bonuses. We also offer health and dental benefits, 401(k) offerings, and the ability to add short term disability insurance.
Agero: How do you retain good drivers? Why do you think your employees choose to stay with you?
Kelly: Honestly, it's the way we treat people. We treat them like family, like equals. We let them know that we appreciate them - we throw parties and give little bonuses and perks. We also have extremely nice facilities and brand new trucks. Those details help us keep good drivers.
We also have a strong system in place. Our drivers know where they stand with us, and they know they have to follow our system and when they don't, it's a big problem. They have contracts they have to sign and a handbook of policies they have to adhere to.
Agero: What are you looking for when hiring a new driver?
Kelly: We're a little strict right now on requirements, but we have a lot of jobs coming in and we need to make sure we maintain our high service level. Right now, we won't hire anyone younger than 25 (as dictated by our insurance policies). We also won't hire someone without prior experience on the job.
Agero: Buzzword: Millennials. There's definitely a shift in all industries towards a Millennial work force. Have you had to adjust the way you manage them? Do you have any tips?
Kelly: Oh yeah, there's definitely a big difference when it comes to Millennial work ethic. We've seen that we have to do more coaching with the younger drivers. We have to really explain why there's a sense of urgency in all that we do: people are stranded out there and they're relying on us to take care of them. We take the time to explain to them why we do things the way that we do. Agero: Yeah, you're actually see that with all industries - Millennials have been given the freedom to question status quo, so work requirements also fall into what gets questioned. Kelly: Exactly! We're also rated by the insurance companies and motor clubs we work with and every person contributes to that. It's part of the reason why we have a commission-based model. The pay is dependent on their output: the more they're able to do, the more they get paid.
Do you have any best practices for hiring and keeping good drivers? We'd love to hear from you in the comments. For more helpful tips and links to job sites, check out the Recruiting and Hiring Resources section of our website.