Whether your moving crew is full-time or 1099, there are probably mornings where your movers don't show up. Maybe they are late and forget to communicate that to you. Now you have to scramble to find last minute movers or reach out to the customer to push back their move time. You figure it out, you always do, but you're tired of it and you're looking for ways to improve the system. So, how do you get your crew to show-up, and be on time?
We posed this question to different leaders in the moving industry all over the US to learn how they address the problem. Here were their answers:
You have to be fair
"To be honest it's always a crapshoot with hiring employees. You never know who will or won't show up. You do your best to plan for the days and weeks schedule, but you just never know. You have those employees you know will be there everyday, very dependable. Then you have those employees that are 80-90% certain they will, somewhat dependable. Then you have some employees that are 50/50. And the ones that make it a habit of calling out or no showing, you write up and by strike three, you fire, not dependable. Obviously you want to pay them fairly, what the market dictates, that helps keep them. You have to be fair. You have to be stern when you have to be. You sometimes need to be there to listen to them and their issues. I know some companies do special things for their employees, gift cards, lunches, etc. I do gift cards and we make it a game once a month, offering gift cards to Q Trip or something. We are an employee based company. Some companies are contractor based and they (drivers) are required to find their own labor. With all these labor companies out there now, you see a lot of these guys who worked for these drivers, sourcing themselves out to the highest bidder (who will pay them the most money for that day). This industry is truly like no other."
-Michael Zlotnik, General Manager at Carey Moving & Storage Inc.
Mornings are best
First tip to ensure movers come in on time, schedule their first assignment in the morning. Second, if you have to do the afternoon, pay a little extra to lock a one-hour time frame rather than 2-3 hours. Third, sometimes booking after hours (after 5pm) will give you a more accurate arrival time.
-Lior Rachmany, CEO at Dumbo Moving & Storage
"In the Moving Industry, there is a common thread of frustration that we all endure in perpetuity: tardiness & absenteeism. Unfortunately, this issue creates numerous issues impacting Dispatch, Crew Morale, Job Efficiency, and – most importantly – Customer Satisfaction. Without proper communication from team members, it limits the teams ability to function at the highest level. To that end, I implemented a simple rule back in October 2020: 3 no call/no show or tardiness within a 3-month rolling window = 3 day suspension without pay. While this may seem overly strict, there is an exception to this rule and it only requires simple communication. If you are going to be late or cannot show up for the day, just call/text Ops Management to inform them before your start time. It’s honestly that simple. While everyone would love all employees to be on-time as scheduled, it doesn’t always work out that way and being informed lets the team react accordingly. To reiterate, communication is vital to the operation and crucial for the day’s success. Since implementing this policy 4 months ago – out of 100+ crew members – I have only suspended 5 teammates. Comparing YOY, we have improved our on-time attendance by 25% and plan to continue improving.”
-Kyle Davis, GM of Royal Hawaiian Movers
"We have a “Line-Up Call-In” number given to every crew. This phone number has a recording stating date, dispatch time and crew names working that day. It is clearly communicated arriving late will not be tolerated UNLESS it is an emergency. Their lack of responsibility hurts everyone involved. All we ask is for a phone call or text if they cannot make work. That expectation is also known as 'common courtesy'."
-Bud Cole, General Manager at Bekins Northwest
"We utilize a scorecard with our guys to help measure key performance items... attendance is a big one since it can impact a group of people. With the added element of competition and recognition we are able to do a good job of keeping everyone on time and ready to serve the customers."
-Beau Roskow, Vice President at Naglee Moving and Storage Inc.
Holding employees accountable
"We fined our employees a $10 transportation charge if they were more than 15 minutes late. We dispatched the crew after holding them for 15 minutes for the tardy employee. The charge offset part of our cost for driving the employee out to the job. If an employee were late more than 3 times per month, in addition to the fine, they were put on probation for 30 days. If they violated any company policy while on probation, they were subject to being terminated. Poor attendance hurts the morale of the employees who do show up on time. The number one reason for termination at my company was poor attendance."
-Ed Katz, President at International Office Moving Institute (IOMI®)
"I motivate my crew to show up on time by offering a rewards base compensation plan. My team receives a monthly bonus based off of a system I developed that I refer to as the AAA system: Attendance, Attention to Detail, and Accountability."
-Abraham Cannon, Chief Executive Officer at College Dudes Help U Move
Communication is key
"Our crews show up on time because we let them know what time to be at the job. We also give a window in case they run into traffic or need to fuel up. Their paperwork tells them what time the customer wants them there. We ask them to be at the office to get the truck and get ready with enough time to get to the job."
5 star driver reviews
"We dispatch at 7 am and tell the customers the crew will arrive between 8-9 am. This gives the crew the time to get prepared and the necessary drive time. We also incentivize our drivers to 5 star reviews which keeps them honest."
"It starts with the hiring process. I hired a young lady for a packing position who came in on a Tuesday. Her first day was supposed to be Monday, she called out. Tuesday she was late (1.5 hrs late) and just goofed around the whole time during training. Wednesday, late again and goofed around. Fired her Thursday. So you just never know. They all come in needing jobs and once you give them one, most always have issues, car problems, and the excuses go on and on. I recently opened an Indeed.com want ad for a mover/helper, packer and driver. I would say of the 69 applicants I have had, half no showed for the confirmed interview. Then about 30% of the ones that applied never confirm or reply back to an interview request. So the ones that do show up for interviews, you do your due diligence to explain the position, the hours, the rules. After that, you bring them in, train them and 1-2 you will fire, 1-2 will work out and 1-2 will never show up. Out of those 69 applicants, I hired 6. 2 still work here, 1 was fired 3 days later and 3 just never showed up."
Always a challenge. We know crews will make the “taco stop” so we check the GPS and if they are stopped longer than 10 minutes they are docked as a 15 minute break. Since this affects the whole crew there is peer pressure to keep the stop short. The crew also only gets 15 minutes to load equipment and get out the door unless operations makes an exception (had to clean out a truck, etc). Those are the sticks and the carrot is crew members who consistently show up on time get dispatched more often and get more hours.
"Our guys were contractors and generally I didn’t have much trouble getting them to show up on time. What I did is I would inform the contractors of their schedule for the week. If jobs cancel or reschedule I would inform them since they pay for their own equipment and they can do other jobs if they have that in their pipeline."
"Establish your expectations early on in the hiring process. If you expect your employees to show up on time, this should be stated in the job description and the interview. If someone shows up late for the third or fourth time, bring them aside to figure out the root of the problem. Maybe it's a matter of changing their schedule and making sure aren't overcommitting."
In short, if you're struggling to get your crew to consistently show up to work, you're not alone. Try a combination of the different strategies above. Talk to your peers. Come up with new tactics. What might be a solution for someone else might not work for you. Once you've built a system that works, learn how to increase moving leads without spending much. To leave you with a bit of inspiration, from the words of J.W. Marriott "If you take care of your people your people will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself."