Fleet maintenance management and best driver hiring practices.
With today’s increased demand for drivers and lower hiring standards, the market for drivers is saturated with an increased number of unqualified drivers; making it more important to know how to attract and retain the right drivers for your fleet.
Recent studies have determined that the cost of hiring a new driver is between $800 - $2,000; including advertising, drug tests, road tests, administration, and the potential down time and reduced productivity of your equipment while the driver is being trained. Additionally, late deliveries, erroneous paperwork, false logs, equipment abuse, and accidents all contribute to the cost of hiring a new driver.
Drivers are your main and ongoing representative to your customers. Drivers should present themselves as neat with facial hair trimmed, good manners, and be professionally dressed. The way drivers care for themselves speaks to your customer as to how you are going to take care of them.
With word of mouth as the most effective way to recruit drivers - as drivers will trust the opinions of other drivers over company promises - a happy driver will attract other drivers. Perhaps consider cash bonuses or other incentives to encourage your drivers to recruit. However, poor drivers will probably recruit more poor drivers. Offer company benefits so this worry is one less thing the driver will be worrying about while on the road.
Interviewing drivers should not just be a rehash of their resume. Keep the conversation light and ask unrelated questions to get a sense about who they are as a person, their interests, and their family life. This will also reassure the driver that they will not just be a number within your company. Ask leading questions about their past, why they left previous jobs. Be silent during these questions. It will keep them talking. Listen and watch reactions carefully.
Remember, it is your responsibility to do your due diligence. Verify Driver Profiles and Motor Vehicle Reports through the DOT. Check and verify past employers. Speak to them if possible. Screening should also include criminal records checks, medicals, and controlled substances. Consider making your road tests longer to flush out possible bad habits.
A few other facts
The driving profession has one of the highest incidence rates of divorce, depression, and family issues.
Drivers under the age of 24 have the highest rate of accidents.
The average driver has one accident every five years.
Drivers with two or more at-fault accidents within 3 years will likely have many more.
Older drivers over the age of 65 are required to undergo a biannual physical as required by the DOT in some states and provinces.
Drivers with five or more traffic tickets are three times more likely to have a fatal accident than a driver with a clear profile.
Drivers with multiple offenses are more difficult to defend in lawsuits. Once you hire your new driver, you must consider their training. New drivers that are not adequately trained or who lack experience with equipment often develop and have poor habits. During the first months of employment, new drivers are more focused on learning about your company, new routes, commodities, customers, paperwork, and policies - which can distract them. The potential for an accident during this time is greater - regardless of experience. Companies with high driver turnover rate also have a high accident rate as well.
It is therefore important that you have planned strategy and policy in place to help get the driver up to speed as quickly as possible and understand their responsibilities. A comprehensive driver training program is recommended.
Keep your drivers happy. Treat them fairly and show them respect. The number 1 reason for driver turnover is not financial but rather lack of respect or perceived lack of respect. Drivers who sit alone behind the wheel all day often overthink. Small problems quickly become major aggravations. Recognize and appreciate the fact that many drivers see their family only a couple days a week and must deal with home issues during that time.
Your fleet is your driver’s home and a source of pride for them. It must be clean and reliable. Promptly address any issues that your drivers report.
It is estimated that a third of all maintenance costs is related to equipment abuse. Not all of this is abuse is malicious or deliberate. Often times, inadequate training is to blame. Small repairs and fixes that go unnoticed due to abuse can accumulate over time and depreciate the equipment’s profitability.
If you have over 15 pieces of equipment in your fleet and you are managing your maintenance records with pen and paper, or spreadsheets, you need to implement fleet maintenance software.
Fleet maintenance software will give you insight to the true cost of your fleet and help isolate chronic repairs that may be related to misuse. It will allow you to manage your fleet with facts as opposed to your gut feeling. Fleet Harmony cloud-based fleet maintenance software is affordable and feature-rich software that is available over the internet that can be an important tool in managing your fleet.