Our Truckstop Employees Are Our First Customers

All across the country, unemployment levels are hitting record lows. In some communities, unemployment rates are as low as 2.5%, and while that is good news for the economy, it can make it harder and harder for business owners to find the top-quality employees they need.

We are all aware of the massive driver shortage, but fleets aren’t the only ones facing a lack of workers. Many truckstops and travel plazas are as well. The help situation is critical in all of our locations. We have to attract and retain top talent in order to keep our customer-service levels high.

In an environment where our employees and potential employees can easily find another job, we have to take a strategic approach to human resources. If we’re not taking care of our workforce, the likelihood they will go somewhere else is pretty high.

Many businesses are finding success by providing added flexibility and creating a work-life balance people find attractive. Some of our employees need to work certain shifts in order to meet other demands in their life. Some people want to work that second or third shift or specific days. While this can make more work on the back end, it can be worth it in the long run.

I’ve also heard several stories of companies tapping into mature, semi-retired workers, hiring several, and then allowing them to work out amongst themselves when they want to work as long as every shift is covered.

Referral bonuses can also be a plus. Why not incentivize your existing staff to bring new employees onboard? Referral bonuses can be paid in several installments, such as when a new person joins the company and then after they’ve been employed for a certain amount of time. That way, you incentivize your team for not only recommending quality employees, but also providing the training and camaraderie that can encourage them to stay. Plus, who would you rather reward, a hiring agency or your own staff?

Hiring bonuses are also useful for certain profit centers. In truck repair, I’ve seen bonuses as high as $15,000 or $20,000 being thrown around. That can seem steep, but if it means hiring a top-quality mechanic, it can be worth it.

Communication is a critical piece of every employee relationship, and I think today we also have to provide greater flexibility by communicating with employees in the ways they prefer. A lot of people are married to their phones and want to have schedules texted to them or to be able to log into a web portal to get the information they need.

Once employees are onboard, it is important to understand what they need to fulfill their job responsibilities and make sure we’re supporting them. To win the talent war, any good business has to have a strategy. Take time to look at all that your employees do, examine the operation during different times of the day and try to think through those little things that could make a big difference in your employees’ experience. To be successful, we have to treat our employees as our first customers

Don Quinn's photo

Don Quinn

Don Quinn is president of Sapp. Bros. He gained his initial first-hand experience with the truckstop and travel plaza as a truck driver. From there, he started working for Sapp Bros. pumping fuel on the fuel islands. That was 30 years ago, and he has held almost every job within the industry throughout his decades of experience at Sapp Bros. When not working, Quinn is involved in his church, serving in different ministries and on the endowment board. He has served on the Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries endowment board as well. Don has been married for nearly 37 years to his wife, Ava. He has two children—a son and a daughter—and two granddaughters.
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