In early March, a few of us from NAL Insurance spent some time at the TCA (Truckload Carriers Association) Convention in Vegas. Yes, it’s a long way to go for a convention, but I have to admit, it was well worth the trip.
Steve Forbes Editor in Chief of the Forbes Business Magazine and Republican Presidential Nominee opened the convention with his thoughts on how he would save America from their current economic condition. Forbes blamed the slow recovery on poor policy decisions but suggested the current condition was fixable if the Government would only implement four key policy changes;
· Stop printing money they didn’t have
· Reduce taxes
· Reduce Government Spending
· Open up the healthcare system to create a competitive market
There was also an excellent panel discussion with Max Fuller (Chairman and CEO of US Express Enterprise), Dan England (Chairman of CR England) and Derek Leathers (CEO and President- Werner Enterprises) who all had a positive outlook for the remainder of 2013 and early 2014. Everyone agreed that there is a capacity crunch coming which should help with rates increases moving forward. Because of this “capacity crunch”, companies really need to focus their attention on Driver Retention and Driver Health and Wellness programs. Another excellent panel discussion involved Chris Cooper (COO Boyd Bros. Transport), Tom Liutkus (Travel Centers of America) and Steve Sichterman (TripPak Services).
Job satisfaction is obviously a very key factor in driver retention. The TA survived 1000+ drivers over a period of 18 months and asked 15 questions about factors which impact their job satisfaction.
Although it’s not surprising that financial reasons continues to be the number one cause that O/O’s and Drivers leave, the lack of respect that they receive from their fleet and customers was not far behind. The money part may take some time but respect is something everyone can do something about right now.
They also broke down respect into other categories including how they are spoken to, honesty and how Drivers just really want to feel part of the team. More home time, better equipment and good benefits also made the list.
Waiting times seem to come up quite a bit as well. Some of the major fuel vendors have come up with Reward Club Cards that allow drivers to go on-line and get copies of their receipts at a later time, meaning drivers no longer are required to wait in long lines after fueling to obtain their receipt.
Truck parking also isn’t getting any better these days. Travel Centers of America recently came out with an interesting smart phone app that gives drivers a better understanding of what parking is available at one of their locations down the road. Some drivers complained it can take up to 3 hours to find an open spot. This app helps a Driver locate parking at their next destination and in many cases allow drivers to reserve their spot (for a small fee) to guarantee parking was available when they arrive.
All and all, a driver only has 660 minutes on the clock and “every minute wasted means he isn’t earning “says Chris Cooper from Boyd Bros. “Keep them moving” he explained. “If a driver isn’t moving, they aren’t earning.”
“Other conveniences like mobile scanning, in-cab scanning or truck stop scanning have also made all the differences in the world”, said Cooper.
Boyd’s Bros. also formed a driver advisory board where drivers could voice their opinions and concerns. Although the first few meetings turned out to be more of a gripe session, Cooper also recommended that fleets not get too discouraged with the process. “Once they air their issues and see that you are working on the items addressed, they will really start getting into some valuable questions/answers and their skepticism will be overcome when you take action on some of their concerns”.
Driver Health and Wellness was on the agenda for the final day. David Dietrich from Erb Group of Companies, Trevor Kurtz from Brian Kurtz Trucking shared the stage with SiphiweBaleka, Driver Fitness Trainer Prime, Inc., Tom Grojean, Jr., Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc. and Kathy Ayres, Lindora Clinic, Inc. that is the personalized weight management company that managed the TCA’s Trucking Weight Loss Showdown. The panel shared their thoughts on what they are offering to help educate and support their drivers make better choices, on and off the road.
The panel agreed that drivers want more options available to them on the road. Driving for a living makes it very difficult to eat a well-balanced diet and keep up a regular exercise regime which is why more fleets are investing in wellness programs. Not only are these programs well received by the Driver, they are a great tool to attract and retain quality O/O’s and Drivers to any fleet.
Siphiewe Baleka has helped hundreds of drivers at Prime make some important lifestyle changes. “The biggest obstacle we have is the mindset” says Beleka, “The perception is that it is very hard to eat healthy on the road and that there is no time to work out.” Some of the better truck stops are paying attention and have added walking trails, exercise facilities and offer healthier food choices to help their customers meet their health goals.
“One of the things that we learned is that 4 minutes of vigorous exercise a day where you can spike your metabolism, can lead to 7 % body fat change in just 13 weeks”, said Baleka. “It’s not like you have to work out an hour a day” to achieve great results. (Make sure you talk to your Family Physician before starting any workout routine)
Both Kurtz and Dietrich agreed with Beleka’s comments and have similar wellness programs running at their respective companies. Kurtz mentioned that not only do they show support but they are great for morale.
The convention ended with the awards banquet/gala. We were pleased to see so many Canadian Fleets recognized for the excellent safety record. Brian Kurtz Trucking and Bison Transport are the 2012 Grand Prize winners of the National Fleet Safety Awards. Erb Transport was also recognized for winning the TCA second annual Weight Loss Show Down. It sure gives you a great feeling when you hear them sing “O Canada” when you’re visiting another country without being at an arena.
Side Bar (second page)
We are losing drivers from the industry way too early due to illness or death. Because Driver Health and Wellness is really such an important topic right now, we have decided to highlight a similar panel discussion at our next www.drivingforprofit.ca held on May 28th. Dave Dietrich, Trevor Kurtz and Siphiewe Baleka will form our panel for this discussion. If however, you can’t wait that long and would like to get more information on this topic or on the driver retention session we attended, please feel free to send me an email and I can forward you my notes.
About the Author
NAL Insurance Inc.
(519)432-8333 ext. 3350 (Phone)
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