Selecting the best drivers for your fleet is of paramount importance. It’s the face of your company that your customers (and often, their customers) see most often. Think about it. Who has a major impact on your company’s bottom line when it comes to fuel consumption efficiency, non-scheduled maintenance, and accident avoidance? Your driver.
So it only makes sense that having the right metrics to evaluate driver performance is absolutely essential to the success of your business. But what are those “right metrics?”
Transportation companies are well aware of the driver Fitness Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) standards set up through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. These standards measure, among other things: unsafe driving, HOS compliance, controlled substance use, vehicle maintenance, hazardous materials compliance and crash indicators.
These specific standards — and the means to measure them — were established in response to safety concerns. Violating any of them can be incredibly costly for a company. Fortunately, advancements in technology allow these metrics to be more accurately and easily measured.
EOBR’s can provide far more information than just keeping track of driving hours (HOS), including engine idle time, hard-braking events and over-speeding instances. By looking at these metrics, driver-by-driver, a company can provide valuable feedback to help each driver improve his or her operating and safety performance. And that, ultimately, benefits the driver, the company and the public.
But measure these areas alone and you’re short-changing your drivers, your customers and your company. Remember, CSA isn’t really concerned with other facets of your business that are not connected to safety concerns. However, these other facets can be very meaningful to your customers.
Obviously, it is vital that deliveries be made accurately, on time and damage-free. But it’s also important that your drivers display professional, courteous behavior and a good appearance. You may want to set your own standards in-house to be able to establish what is acceptable and what is not in these areas. In addition to your own assessments, you can also measure driver behavior by conducting customer surveys.
Through EOBR measurements, in-house performance standards and customer surveys, you should be able to discern which drivers are doing well and which ones need greater attention from management. Most drivers, like most employees, want to do a good job, so constructive and objective feedback is generally well received when provided in a positive manner.
Some companies provide incentives for their drivers with recognition and monetary rewards for good performance results. There’s a good reason to go through this rather than just saying good-bye to drivers who may have made some fixable errors. That’s because finding and keeping good drivers — especially over-the-road drivers — is a real challenge for transportation companies.
Drivers are aging out. The average age for an over-the-road drivers is 50-plus. The United States Department of Transportation estimated a driver shortage approaching 250,000 by the end of 2013. With this in mind, it may be more effective to work at making your existing drivers the best they can be rather then spend time training new drivers.
So when you’re evaluating and measuring your drivers, don’t just measure them against federal standards. Measure them against your own company standards as well as those of your customers. And if you find drivers that don’t quite measure up, do what you can to help move them in a positive direction.
Editor’s Note: Joe Gallick is vice president of Dedicated Services for NationaLease. He is an experienced supply chain executive who previously held several positions at Penske Logistics, where he served for more than 25 years. His posts appear at www.blog.nationalease.com.