“As I See It” from the Trucking Activist – Drivers Time is Money
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the distinct pleasure of spending a lot of time with drivers. I have the unique opportunity to moderate some of my client’s driver advisory groups. As we openly discuss the challenges they are experiencing on the road, some recent historical background surfaces in some of my one-on-one conversations. In my mind, these are the best of the best describing their professional driving experiences. They describe their plight during 2020, with many described the same experiences: the truck was the safest place to be; they stayed out longer to ensure protection of their family; had real problems finding food, parking, and bathrooms on the road; and unfortunately revealed that they were treated like “leppers” at some loading docks and customer locations. So, all of these stories lead me to a few conclusions. Number one, and foremost in today’s market – drivers time is money. I know the industry bills and pays their drivers by the mile, but, in 2020 and going forward, we must be laser focused on respecting the drivers time at all points of the transportation supply chain.
Some things to consider that will respect the drivers time in this current environment:
- When recruiting drivers be honest with the hometime commitment and come to a clear agreement between the driver and your company;
- Fleet managers need to monitor and support their drivers’ expectations including hometime, pretrips, maintenance stops, and most importantly their earnings week-to-week;
- Respect and understand their time when they are coming into your organization. Understand that humans only remember about 15% of what they learn two days later, so develop an ongoing follow up for your drivers reinforcing the culture and processes you highlighted during orientation;
- Make sure their trucks are ready and “standing tall” when the driver is ready to roll for the first time. You only have one chance to screw up a first impression!
- For everyone in the maintenance ecosystem, be courteous to the driver. They are not there because they want to be, and they understand the repair facilities are busy, but do not treat this human interaction as a big interruption to your day, instead treat it as an opportunity to help an essential worker;
- Fleets, make all your facilities driver-friendly as we come out of these crazy times. Many drivers felt abandoned due to their own fleets being closed so people went home. The need for proactive communication is more important than ever right now; and
- Shippers, work with your preferred carriers to upgrade your facilities and processes when it comes to drivers. Let us change this archaic practice of appointments, penalties, and detention as none of these aid with respecting the driver’s time! Shippers take some skin in the game and respect the drivers’ time with flexible appointment systems, respect of the driver’s time needs of unloading, and picking up quickly and safely. And most important, offer your bathroom facilities for these essential workers!
Considering all of these will impact a driver’s choice for where they want to work, and where they want to deliver to. The driver’s time is money. Getting drivers more driving time and less sitting time benefits everyone in the supply chain. Fleets get more capacity and higher revenue to spread across the high-fixed costs of equipment and overhead. Shippers will get more capacity, less refused loads, and may consider a “white glove” treatment to lure the drivers when they choose their destinations. And finally, the driver will get a pay increase for what they are professionally trained to do.