Category: "efficiencies"

10/08/09

  02:59:09 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: driver retention

With the cost of hiring a new, never-before-seen-or-tested truck driver, purported by some employment specialists to be approaching $5000.00, how can I keep the good drivers I have now? This is a good question. Hardly any trucking company today, large or small, can afford to part with $5000.00 looking for a driver to replace a valued employee who decided to "get off the road."

From my early days in the trucking industry, I have always said, "Driver turnover is as common as changing one’s socks. It seems it's the very nature of the beast. Drivers are so used to moving from one location to another in their daily activities – pickups, deliveries, etc. – that moving from one company to another seems to be an acceptable behavior." How do we change that?

What is the key or keys that will keep a good driver happy enough to stay with your company for 20 or 30 years? Here are a few suggestions that I have found successful and might help you as well.

1) Remember your drivers are people! They have feelings, desires, expectations, and goals. If you and your dispatchers show genuine interest in these feelings, desires, expectations, and goals, your drivers will understand that you care about them. When employees feel the company cares about them, they are less likely to look for other employment.

2) Be realistic in your expectations. Remember your drivers are not you! They are trying to do the best they can amidst all of the government regulations that are directed specifically at them.

3) Keep your equipment in good working order. No one likes to drive a piece of junk that has to be herded down the road. If you have ever driven long haul and had to fight or repair the equipment every step of the way you know what I mean. If you haven’t had this unpleasant opportunity, consider the last time your automobile broke down…was that a pleasant experience?

4) Ask your drivers for input. I am not suggesting that you let your drivers run your company. On the contrary, I strongly state that drivers should not be allowed to run your company, but they have ideas that can help. They are the ones talking to your shippers, receivers and brokers; they are the ones that portray your company image, regardless of what you think your company image may be. And finally;

5) Be competitive in your pay scale and the benefits you offer. Remember points 1) thru 4) will help keep the drivers, but you have to be competitive enough for any driver to want to look at you in the first place.

Good drivers are worth their weight in gold. If you will treat them as if they are gold, your drivers will be content, happy, eager to help grow your business, and less likely to "look for something better."

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

08/07/09

  02:55:18 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: document imaging

The trucking industry, it seems, is riddled with paper. From fax confirmations to bills of lading and invoices, managing each step of a shipment is covered with paper. In addition to shipment documentation for proof of delivery and related receipts, there is also internal documentation for drivers; from logbooks, equipment safety checks, expense reimbursement forms, and the many receipts they collect. In the office, we tend to duplicate the paperwork at least once if not twice so there is always a backup copy 'just in case.' Then we create or own original documents to send to customers, vendors, contractors, and employees.

I'm old enough to remember the days before desktop computers were the norm, (early 80s) and the many people who claimed we would soon no longer need paper. Our data would be managed with and by the computers. Of course, we all know what happened, paper sales went through the roof, as we developed new ways of analyzing data and all of the reports that came with that. The term 'paperless office' became a well-worn joke as the 90s ended.

However, in the last few years there have been some significant changes in technology that while may not create “paperless offices” will certainly create 'less papered offices.' First, computer manufacturers continue to create larger faster machines with cheaper and cheaper storage. Second, any good trucking software system now allows you to “print” to a file or PDF format instead of paper. Last, scanning technology has continued to get faster, and provide higher quality images. The result is that we no longer worry about running out of hard drive space, most documents we used to print on paper we are viewing on screen and/or transmitting electronically and may never actually print to paper, and if we do receive a paper document we can easily and quickly scan it.

While this 'technology' has been around for years, it has never been easier or cheaper to implement, nor as easy to actually use then it is now. The good news is that it's only going to get easier, and cheaper. Remember when Gigabyte was the new measurement of “big” with regards to hard drives. Now of course it's Terabyte, and we're looking forward to Petabyte (1024 terabytes). In addition to the these improvements we can not ignore the advancements mobile communication devices and the networks upon which they work have made in the last few years. Blackberrys and iPhones for instance have document management capabilities, and almost all of even the cheapest mobile phones have cameras. With these devices we can send and receive email or text messages, with some we can view and edit documents, and record digital images.

Each image takes just a few hundred kilobytes, and can be cheaply, quickly, and easily duplicated and or stored. With TruckMaster's trucking software you can use any of these images by attaching them to any record in the system for later retrieval. TruckMaster's unique design and system integration doesn't require you to spend thousands of dollars on additional hardware or software licensing. Document imaging is just one more valuable tool in the TruckMaster tool belt that comes as a standard part of every TruckMaster solution.

As you work through the next week, each time you search for an invoice, bill of lading, proof of delivery, driver log, maintenance receipt, claim picture, or just a freight confirmation, please remember they could all be just a click away in your TruckMaster system.

TruckMaster can bring you as close to paperless as you wish to be. To 'see' what we mean, contact TruckMaster today for a free on line demonstration.

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

03/12/09

  05:59:05 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: driver recruiting, driver retention

I thought this week I'd talk a little about an issue that until recently was towards the top of every trucking industry issue top-ten list: driver recruitment and retention.

According to the ATRI (American Transportation Research Institute), the issue was in one of the top two spots of their Critical Issues In The Trucking Industry from 2005 to 2007, after which it slipped behind fuel costs and economy to #3. Ironically, it's likely that the economy has actually helped this situation, driving people that have been forced out of their jobs to find work where it's easy to find, especially given the relatively short training time to get a steady pay check coming in.

According to Department Of Labor, the nationwide unemployment rate for February of 2009 was 8.1%. There are more people looking for work right now than there have been in recent memory. How may the trucking industry draw some of these unemployed people into the fold, and then retain them?

Please allow me to throw out a few ideas.

Drawing Them In

Contact Your Local Unemployment Agency

A phone call to your local unemployment agency could be the easiest way to find driver candidates, and is surely the cheapest. There are many displaced workers at the moment, many of which may simply have not thought about truck driving as an option they have. Your local phone book will have the phone number for your local agency, or use an online resource such as www.whitepages.com.

Local Advertising Campaigns

Your local newspaper or radio station could be a good resource for placing an advertisement for a driver opening. They may even make you a deal, given a probable lack of content for their help wanted sections.

There's always the online sources, and if your not set on having drivers that reside locally, they're probably even more effective than conventional means. I personally stay away from most of the big online recruiters because of their high listing fees, but a bit of browsing will reveal other sites that have decent visibility and a reasonable price.

Referral Program

I've talked to some trucking companies that have started an incentive program for current drivers that bring on new help. You may or may not be in a position where this would be effective or affordable, but it may be worth some thought. There are many ways to structure this without having to raise the referrer's pay rate, such as credits that go towards hotel stays, electronic goods, etc.

A Miniature Job Fair

You could have a day a month where you welcome people that are interested in exploring a driving career to your office. Give them a tour of your facilities, provide a light lunch, maybe even have a driver take them for a short ride around town in one of your nicer trucks, insurance company willing of course. The one-on-one time that the interested parties would spend with a driver would likely arrest any uncertainty they may have regarding the career, and your existing driver would probably enjoy the time as well.



Keeping Them

So one or more of the above methods works, and you've hired yourself a brand new driver or two. Now what, how do you keep them from leaving the truck at a truck stop in Timbuktoo and taking a plane ride home?

Train Them Well

Get the new driver started off on the right foot. He or she need to be told what they should expect from their new career, as well as exactly what you expect of them. Everything from time away from home, to layover potential, to the difference between a lot of lizards and a lot lizard, should be explained to them in detail.

When done correctly, no new surprises should regularly be sprung on your new recruits, although there will certainly be exceptions that you cannot prepare for in advance. When do you expect them to check in with you? What situations merit verbal communication with their dispatcher? Frustration on both sides will be alleviated if the ground rules are set at the get-go.

The necessity to train your new drivers on the safe operation of their equipment goes without saying.

Communicate With Them

Let your drivers know how good of a job they're doing. Or just talk to them occasionally. Keep in mind that humans are social creatures, they need a little bit of conversation from time to time. You're busy, but 5 minutes here and there will keep up that rapport that could mean the difference between a happy driver, and one that is trying to decide if he is going to quit when he gets back to the office or not.

When trying to decide if it's worth the time you'll need to invest in the driver, keep in mind the time that it takes to get a replacement into the truck.

Bring Them Home

With some exceptions, most drivers would like to have a little time at home occasionally to rest, take care of personal business, etc. If possible, keep track of how many consecutive days your drivers have been away from home, attempt to route them in a way that gives them a day or so home at a somewhat regular interval. Good trucking software can help you track how often this needs to occur, as well as how often you're hitting this goal. (ALMOST made it through the post without a shameless plug.)

Reduce Their Downtime

Doh! Nobody likes the truck to be sitting, especially the driver. When this is unavoidable, at least keep your driver honestly informed about how long it will likely be before he's back on the road. The typical driver dislikes being stuck somewhere slightly less than not knowing how long they'll be there, and the feeling of being given the runaround that accompanies that.

Improve Their Lives

There are some perks that can be given to your drivers that will likely not effect your bottom line, or very little at least. A little consideration here and there could go a long ways. Recognition of how hard they're working for you, whether formal or informal, makes them feel like they're an invaluable part of your team (they are!).

If nothing else, give them the address for the TruckMaster Fuel Finder™ and let them choose a truck stop every once in awhile that has some fun amenity that they'd like to try out (last shameless plug, I swear!).


I'm certain that none of these ideas are novel, but hopefully spelling out a couple helps someone at some point think of something that they haven't before. If so, we've done our job.

Greg Dodson
President
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company™

01/02/09

  03:13:00 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: tractor-trailer trains

Are Tractor-Trailer "Trains" the answer?

The escalated fuel prices of 2007 and 2008 sent a large number of smaller trucking companies and owner-operator entities either out of business or in to hiding behind big corporate logos.

As the economy slowed in the latter half of 2008, we saw a significant decrease in fuel prices, but we did not see a significant increase in smaller trucking companies and owner-operators. The companies that were forced out of business by the fuel prices stayed out of business.

The Associated Press reported on January 1, 2009 that the National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing, a federal commission to finance highway construction and repair stated:

“With motorists driving less and buying less fuel, the current 18.4 cents a gallon gas tax and 24.4 cents a gallon diesel tax fail to raise enough to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.

In a report expected in late January, members of the infrastructure financing commission say they will urge Congress to raise the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon and the diesel fuel tax by 12 to 15 cents a gallon. At the same time, the commission will recommend tying the fuel tax rates to inflation.”

This analyst fears with the current recession and an increase in government taxation, there will be more trucking shortfalls and fewer trucks to haul available freight.

As a trucking industry, how do we cope with the cost of insurance, wages, fuel, etc. and continue to make ends meet during these economically trying times?

In the 1980s, as the full force of deregulation became apparent on the common carrier side of the industry, 27-foot double and triple trailer combinations began to dot the roads, streets and byways of the US highway system. By 2000, we saw more double trailers and even more triple trailer combinations as common carriers struggled to produce a profit.

In some western states, ‘Rocky Mountain Doubles’ (48 or 53 foot trailer with a 27-foot ‘pup’ combination) are more prevalent now than ever before, and ‘turnpike doubles’ two 48 or 53 foot trailers) are also being seen. In California and other states in the US, multiple trailer combinations are not allowed off the Interstate Highway System. While in Alaska, four and five trailer combinations are permitted.

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA), although not opposed to these types of combinations, does warn that special training is required for a truck driver to be able to safely operate these vehicles on today’s highways.

A report by the National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT), suggests that a study conducted by Woodrooffe and Associates and focused on comparing the safety performance of LCVs (Longer Combination Vehicles) with other vehicles in Alberta, Canada found LCVs to have the lowest collision exposure rate of all vehicle classes.

A study published by Transportation Research Board suggests that although the fatality accident rate for multi-trailers is higher than that of single-trailers, it is not significantly higher (1.66 times, or just under 10 accidents per 100,000,000 miles traveled). This may be due to the fact that multi-trailer operations are currently restricted to the safer Interstate Highway System. One of the major causes of tractor-trailer accidents is driver fatigue not the size, shape or length of equipment - an item to be addressed in at a later time.

It is the opinion of this analyst, with proper driver training and with stricter adherence to current log book and other government regulations, tractor-trailer trains are a viable option for reducing the cost of transportation while getting more goods to market.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

::

April 2018
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 << <   > >>
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          
All trucking industry topics are subject to coverage in our trucking industry blog, but since our specialty is technology, that's what we'll focus on.

Search

  XML Feeds

powered by open-source CMS software