Volunteer drivers are the backbone of community transport services. Their time, generosity and good will, are what keep communities moving across the country. Without them, it would become more and more difficult to deliver a friendly and personable transport service. Volunteer drivers are in high demand across the country. In this article we hope to provide you just a few ideas on how try to keep your volunteer drivers as happy and involved as possible, so they continue to support you long into the future. If you have any more ideas of what we can add to this list then please contact us, so we can update it, we’d love to hear from you so we can help others too!
Make Their Life Easier
This might seem like common sense, but is there anything you can do to just make the volunteer driver’s life a little easier? Maybe it’s to find out days which might be awkward for them to travel so you don’t disturb them. Maybe it’s just giving them a call often to see how they’re doing and with using your service. Whatever it is, go out of your way to make their life as easy as possible when working with you.
Let Them Set Their Schedule
Find a way of letting them set their schedule. Whether you keep this on paper or in a system like Road XS, make sure you get a personal feeling to each of your driver’s preferences. Not only does this help with planning your overall driver’s availability, but it also lets you know whether you have enough volunteer drivers to fulfil service demands and if you need to get more help from other areas. Make it really easy for them to set their availability and then don’t inconvenience them wherever possible.
Recognise Your Volunteer Drivers
Recognition can go a long way. It’s not that the drivers want to be necessarily rewarded, but if they have gone out of their way to help someone, or gone the extra mile, just let them know that you appreciate it. For a volunteer driver there is nothing worse than the feeling of not being appreciated. This is easily done at Christmas and throughout the year, especially when you look at how your transport services are performing when you come to look at funding and growth opportunities.
Simplify Your Fee Collection Process
For many, there is nothing that stresses people out more than the talk of money. This is no different for volunteer drivers. Make sure that they know what fees they should be collecting per journey or whether they’ll receive an invoice. There is nothing more embarrassing for a driver than asking a passenger for money on the day of a journey who might not have the money to hand. This often happens if the passenger qualifies for concessionary travel, or if they are invoiced for a journey at a later date. Clear up any ambiguity early on and this will go a long way in avoiding those embarrassing moments. Just let them know your process for the collection of fees right away.
Define Standards and Expectations of Your Volunteer Drivers from the Outset
Whilst the driver may be a volunteer, they still need to meet your standards and expectations. For example, topics of conversation which might not seem offensive to the driver might be offensive to the passenger on the journey. You will also have financial deadlines by which you need to collect fees and manual mileage claim forms. All of these processes, standards and workflows the driver needs to know about. It also helps you run your services smoothly and avoid any assumptions your part and the volunteer drivers part. It might be difficult, but maybe ask them after a few weeks if you’re meeting their expectations. This might prevent them from not voicing a concern which then leads to trouble further down the line.
Involve Your Volunteer Drivers
Get them to ‘buy in’ to your workflows and the ‘why you do things the way you do!’ Get their opinions and feedback on your services and how you can improve them. Ask them about some good and bad trips they have had and what’s happening on the road. Let them know you’re listening and paying attention. Sometimes interactions with drivers can be all too brief, such as walking in and out of the main office in between a trip with no time to chat. It’s always good to schedule a time to debrief with a volunteer driver either one on one or with a group of drivers in one go.
Maintain Communication at All Times
Try to keep the lines of communication open at all times. This might be via phone, email or another form of messaging. Make it as easy as possible for the volunteer drivers to contact you. If your office is closed, make sure you leave a nice message and perhaps have a dedicated driver support line. This might become more important if you do a lot of weekend journeys or off peak journeys. With the amount of communication technology today you will collect a host of drivers with different skill levels. Make sure you try to please the many but also look after the few. Let them know how your services are doing via announcements on news and the difference they’re making to their local community. Working together, it’s amazing what can be done.
Don’t Contact Your Driver’s Unnecessarily
Whilst you need to keep the lines of communication open, don’t contact your volunteer drivers unnecessarily. For example, let’s imagine the driver is away on holiday in another country. You call them up to see if they’re available for a journey and it’s 3am their local time and you’ve woken them up. This probably wouldn’t go down too well. This is why it’s important that you find an easy way for your driver to let them know their availability and an easy way to manage it.
Provide Some Data
We live in a world where data is everywhere. In some cases it’s too much. When it comes to working with volunteer drivers though, it can be a major benefit. You can use data to see how many journeys the driver has performed, how many miles they have travelled and how and when they like to work. You can also check how many volunteer drivers you might have in a particular postcode area. All of this is helpful. If you have this in a driver portal, it can also help motivate and provide encouraging feedback to the volunteer driver. They feel valuable, that every mile makes a difference, even when they might not feel like getting in the car on a rainy day.
Use a Driver Portal
If you can, deploy a driver portal that can be accessed via desktop, mobile and tablet devices. This provides volunteer drivers one place to go to communicate with you, to set their schedule and to allocate themselves to journeys. This means when you’re shut your drivers can still operate. Make sure the portal is super easy to use and doesn’t take long to learn. Yes, some drivers will only ever work from paper and a phone, but if you can get 80% of your drivers using the portal you will see your productivity soar and your phone calls fall.
Road XS comes pre-installed with a driver and passenger portal meaning you have everything you need to keep your drivers happy and save yourself and your drivers time. The driver portal allows your drivers to maintain their records with ease, access journeys on the go via their mobile and tablet and even allows them to do a vehicle lookup direct to the DVLA without needing to enter their vehicle details. With a driver do not disturb mode, you’ll never be contacting your drivers at an awkward time. The in-built messaging system means you can also keep all communication secure relating to your transport services. Best of all, the drivers can easily set their schedule so you never need to bother them when they’re unavailable.