In October, a panel of fleet executives at last month’s McLeod Software user conference in Birmingham, Ala., agreed that setting the right expectations with drivers is the most effective way to combat turnover. The discussion revolved around the following topics:
1. Setting expectations
The panel agreed that setting expectations with drivers is critical in the recruiting process. All spokespersons said they can better meet expectations by offering a variety of career options that include over-the-road, dedicated and team operations. They also stressed developing personal relationships with drivers and keeping their pay, mileage and home-time commitments.
“It really starts with the fleet manager and driver relationship,” said Paul Simmons, chief operating officer on Interstate Distributor, adding that driver retention is not just a fleet manager’s responsibility. “Every interaction in the office is an opportunity to build trust with drivers,” he said. “How the company sells capacity, how it plans loads and processes payroll and more – it really becomes a one-team event around driver retention.”
Data analysis can help companies with driver recruiting and retention.
2. Streamlining orientation
When drivers are scheduled to attend orientation meetings at Decker, the company’s president makes a personal welcome call. A welcome kit awaits drivers in their hotel room prior to the meetings. Decker brings drivers in by bus, rental car and airplane – all paid for by the company in advance, said Jennifer Brim, director of fleet management.
After orientation, drivers get another welcome kit with a new tractor assignment. Decker has two full-time “driver services” staff members that help resolve any issues that drivers may have during their employment, she said.
Milan has improved its orientation experience by reducing the time spent in meetings that once took 2½ days. “Drivers were relatively bored,” said David Dallas, senior vice president. They now complete training online before they arrive to spend one day at the office for orientation.
“This helps them earn money and get back on the road,” he said. All three panelists said their companies pay drivers about $400 for attending orientation training meetings.
3. Keeping commitments
Every month, Milan executives talk to drivers individually about their performance and ask what they could do better as a company. A recent issue that surfaced was detention at shippers’ docks. Many drivers, especially those new to the industry, expect to be loaded or unloaded within two hours of arrival, Dallas said.Milan uses McLeod Software’s detention module to notify customers immediately when assets and drivers are delayed. The software enables management to notify drivers within 24 hours of a detention event if they will receive extra compensation for that particular load.
“In the past, it took a week or so before (detention pay) hit their check,” he said. “There was a lot of discontent.”
Another way Milan uses its McLeod LoadMaster system is to track drivers’ mileage every week versus its commitments. Tracking this data is helpful to coach drivers on what they need to do to reach their goals, such as possibly changing their schedules.
“This helps the relationship with drivers not be antagonistic,” Dallas said.
Decker has drivers fill out an expectation sheet during orientation meetings. Before the first dispatch, drivers discuss home time, mileage and other expectations with operations and fleet managers. The company keeps a scorecard on driver managers and drivers for key areas of performance and retention, Brim said.
4. Career path
The panel also discussed career options for drivers to suit their individual needs. Interstate Distributor has a career progression program that includes an opportunity for drivers to earn extra money by recruiting and training drivers themselves, such as a family member or friend, to earn more money as a team operation.
All three panelists said that growing dedicated operations is a focus for their companies to offer better driving jobs. Milan also has been successful this year by using slip-seat operations in its traditional over-the road business to create more consistent routes for drivers, Dallas said.
The panel did not delve into driver pay, though Dallas did mention that Milan drivers and office staff have the same number of paid vacation days, which increase with tenure for both. The company also has removed its cap on drivers’ mileage pay.
“Every year that a driver stays, he can earn more and more money for as long as he wishes to stay with us,” he said.]]>
FourKites says its flip phone tracking service is $1 per load and smartphone tracking through its CarrierLink app is free for brokers up to 2,500 loads per month. With the newest updates, FourKites says it can track every truck on the road for a fraction of the cost of other tracking providers.
“Any broker that’s paying $5 per load for mobile phone tracking needs to know that they have a cheaper option,” said CEO Matt Elenjickal.
FourKites additionally uses geo-fencing to detect arrivals and departures to notify users by email, in the FourKites dashboard, or their transportation management software (TMS). Drivers can snap photos of documents and share them as well. FourKites CarrierLink app also allows drivers to turn off tracking with the touch of a button.]]>
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was delivered Friday, Nov. 20 to Washington, D.C., by Lynden Transport driver John Schank.
The tree was then transported to Washington, D.C., to the U.S. Capitol Building. Upon arrival, it was hoisted by a large crane onto the West Lawn and secured. The tree will be decorated with more than 4,000 ornaments, handcrafted by children and others from Alaska communities, and thousands of LED lights. But the tree will remain dark until Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) lights it during a ceremony at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Schank still smiles every time he hears the comparison people inevitably make between him and the other white bearded guy who makes deliveries at Christmas time. “I’ve heard that comparison on more than one occasion,” Schank said.
The Lynden Transport driver said he especially likes the way younger kids look at him. With a long white beard and a full head of white hair, Schank looks much like old Saint Nick. “I suppose if I wore a big bright red suit, I would probably get even more kids wanting to tell me what they want for Christmas.”Schank, who is a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, said he has enjoyed the attention received during the 3,000-mile tour across the United States. He said he feels “pretty amped” about being chosen to deliver the “People’s Tree,” a 74-foot Lutz spruce from the Chugach National Forest in his home state of Alaska to the U.S. Capitol. “I was elated and felt privileged to be asked to do this,” he said.
Since Schank began driving for Lynden Transport in 1975, he has delivered millions of tons of essential supplies and materials for the Alaska pipeline construction and Prudhoe Bay oilfields over one of the most treacherous roads in America – the Dalton Highway. In fact, Schank holds the record for the most miles driven of any driver who’s operated a truck on the road from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – 5 million miles – all without a single accident.
Former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell presented Schank a letter of commendation for 37 years of accident-free driving on that road last year. He was also recognized as 2014 Driver of the Year by the Alaska Trucking Association.]]>
When the driver turnover rate at Milan Supply Chain Solutions surpassed 100 percent this year, management for the Jackson, Tenn.-based fleet decided to analyze its data to understand why.
In July, the data showed that 75 percent of terminated drivers were not married, 17 percent were rehires, and 88 percent had gaps in their employment of six months on average within the past three years.
David Dallas, senior vice president of the 350-truck carrier, shared these findings during a panel discussion on driver recruiting and retention at last month’s McLeod Software user conference in Birmingham, Ala.
Milan Supply Chain Solutions changed its on boarding practices after this analysis in an effort to get turnover down to 40 percent or less, he said. Knowing that engaging the spouse is important to retention, the company now spends more time explaining health insurance and other benefits of interest to drivers and their families.
As for rehires, Milan now funnels them through safety, operations and human resources to get additional screening before making a final decision.
While the company also has become more selective of drivers with employment gaps – particularly those who come through its driving school – enforcing this policy has been difficult.
“We all have the emotion of ‘how we are trying to help people?’ ” he says. When this policy was relaxed, “the statistics showed us again that they didn’t last.”
The trucking industry is expected to be short nearly 50,000 drivers by the end of the year, according to the American Trucking Associations. Besides offering better pay packages, benefits and incentives, fleets are looking harder at their own data to uncover the reasons why drivers are leaving and to prevent turnover, where possible, by taking action on early warning signs.
Looking for trends
Other fleet executives who spoke on the panel during the McLeod Software conference shared some insights into what they are seeing in their data.
Interstate Distributor Co. (CCJ Top 250, No. 79), a dry van and refrigerated truckload carrier based in Tacoma, Wash., has noticed that drivers who are referred stick around longer, said Paul Simmons, chief operating officer.
Decker Truck Line (No. 135), a 700-truck refrigerated and flatbed carrier based in Ft. Dodge, Iowa, sees higher turnover for drivers recruited from training schools. New drivers also have more accidents, said Jennifer Brim, director of fleet management.
Decker had shifted away from recruiting drivers from schools but reverted back due to the labor situation. The company now requires that drivers have at least one year of experience and offers training to bridge the gap.
Driver rewards and loyalty programs are used by 45 percent of fleets, according to a Sept. 3-4 survey by CCJ. The programs typically work by rewarding points for attaining periodic goals and milestones in categories such as safety, compliance, fuel savings and tenure. Drivers redeem their points towards noncash items.
About 10 percent of fleets that have a rewards program use a third party to administer it, the study found.
“We have found that a well-structured rewards program with obtainable rewards for a driver can truly affect turnover,” says John Elliott, chief executive officer of Load One. The Taylor, Mich.-based ground expedite carrier has been using a rewards platform from Stay Metrics for three years. “It helps to make companies with good culture even better,” Elliott says.
Fleets that run their own rewards program gave their effectiveness a 7.25 average score on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most effective. Fleets that have a third party manage their program give their program a score of 7.8.
The study, which had 109 respondents, also found that rewards programs are used most widely by fleets with between 50 and 500 trucks.
Tim Hindes, Stay Metrics CEO, says the company’s own research shows that drivers who are engaged in a rewards program – those who use its rewards site at least three times per month – have a 24 percent lower turnover rate.
Workhound created a cloud-based management tool and a mobile app that aggregates feedback data from drivers and shares insights that companies can use to better manage their relationships with them.
Tucker Robeson led the startup of CDL Helpers, a company that created its own cloud-based Fleet Relationship Management application. The app is designed to keep a rolling log of driver interactions to gather useful information and ensure those encounters follow a consistent – and unique – process for each carrier.
Over time, the app is able to benchmark conflicts entered in the system – such as a driver being frustrated with a dispatcher – against the long-term success rates of drivers. This benchmark serves as a useful predictor for how many hours the company has to neutralize the threat before it escalates and leads to turnover, Robeson says.
Ten years ago, Lafayette, La.-based Dupre Logistics tapped a startup company named FleetRisk Advisors to create predictive models to analyze complex data sets and identify drivers who were the most likely to be in accidents, file workers compensation claims or quit within the next couple of weeks. More fleets signed up, and the models got even better, with more experience and data fueling the engines.
Advanced statistical methods are able to find the patterns in operational data that are predictive of future events. The models also help determine the best countermeasures to apply to mitigate the risk.
Such countermeasures may be the suggested topics of conversations for fleet managers to have with drivers about personal, professional or financial issues they are having. This insight is derived from patterns in data that otherwise might go unnoticed.
To date, experience has shown that using predictive information is more effective in preventing driver turnover than for targeting accidents, says Dean Croke, a FleetRisk Advisors founder. The reasons drivers quit usually are the same, but circumstances that lead to accidents are more complex and less repeatable.
“Drivers are very predictable – they experience the same frustrations,” says Croke, who is now vice president of Omnitracs Analytics, FleetRisk Advisors’ new name following the purchase of Omnitracs and its FleetRisk subsidiary by Vista Equity Partners in 2013.
Croke says each client has unique predictors, but in most cases, the early signs of turnover are things you might expect would cause drivers to be frustrated.
Common predictors include fluctuations in pay and mileage, detention time at docks and denied requests for home time. A less-obvious predictor is the geographical state where drivers hold their commercial driver’s license; over-the-road drivers who live in states with low freight volumes may have more difficulty getting home. “It’s obvious from the start that the driver is going to quit,” Croke says.
On the flip side, these and other data patterns also help explain why drivers stay. Drivers who stay longer have markedly different traits than drivers who quit under the same circumstances. By identifying these traits in their profile data, it is possible to know from the start the probability that a job applicant will leave early or stick around, Croke says.
The challenge of using predictive intelligence on the front end of the employment lifecycle, he says, is the additional hurdles it can create to keep drivers moving through the recruiting pipeline. Fleets often need to hire all of the qualified drivers they can get.
While fleets generally capture only basic information from driver applicants, even this limited data can be used to identify those with a higher risk of leaving early. To reduce that risk, companies could spend extra time with these drivers during orientation training to better manage their job expectations, Croke says.
Omnitracs Analytics has unbundled its predictive models to tailor to the specific needs of fleets of all sizes. Some clients may only want to score driver job applicants on the basis of their likelihood to remain.
Croke also is considering creating a new model that would be offered directly to drivers and training schools. This model would identify the carriers and types of operation – flatbed, tanker, long haul, dedicated, reefer – that would best meet drivers’ job expectations.
Another possibility is to incorporate data about driver physiology such as sleep patterns. Croke is an expert in sleep science and believes that one of the reasons driver turnover is highest in the first 90 days is sleep deprivation while getting used to a new work schedule.
Some of Omnitracs Analytics’ accident models show drivers are at the highest risk at 87 days. Croke anticipates eventually being able to capture the quality of drivers’ sleep from wearable devices that communicate with Omnitracs’ in-cab mobile devices.
Ultimately, the best countermeasure for a driver at risk of quitting may be to make sure he’s able to get a good night’s sleep.
Two years ago, Stay Metrics began a research project with the University of Notre Dame. Seven of the company’s carrier clients and 450 drivers from those carriers provided data for the study.
The drivers completed an in-depth online survey developed by professors Timothy Judge and Mike Crant from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. The survey was used to assess drivers’ personality traits, and the carriers provided safety scores and turnover data on the drivers throughout the study.
The full study is currently in the peer review process and is set for publication in academic journals within 12 to 18 months. Judge, Stay Metrics’ director of research, already has used the study’s results to create two predictive models for turnover and safety, both linked to key personality traits of drivers.
Each model uses a predictive index based on four personality traits that correlate strongly with turnover and safety. Orderliness is one predictor of driver turnover, while anger is one for driver safety, says Hindes.
“Drivers with an orderly trait are structured – they take notes, make lists and keep their paperwork in order,” Hindes says. “Anger is a personality trait one might expect of unsafe drivers, and when combined with the other traits in the models, a more holistic view emerges.”
Stay Metrics plans to develop a selection tool for carriers to screen job applicants. Field-testing of the two predictive models will begin in December with four carriers whose drivers will take a personality test during orientation meetings. Subsequently, their turnover and safety performance will be monitored for the next six months.
At the conclusion of field-testing, the results will be used to determine the direction of the new selection tool. The earliest this new product would be available is July 2016, Hindes said.
The driver shortage makes it difficult to be too selective when hiring drivers, but by using insights from data to see which drivers are most likely to leave and why, fleets possibly can change the outcome.]]>
Airline pilots spend many hours in simulators every year to hone their skills. Similar technology is used in the trucking industry but simulation training has traditionally been cost prohibitive for small and mid-size carriers.
Just as software developers now offer products and services through a subscription model with no up-front costs, simulation training has followed suit. Whereas cloud-based software can be used anywhere on any device with an Internet connection, driver simulators require the user to be physically present. The equipment can be mobilized, however.
L-3 Driver Training Solutions, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is now offering full motion simulation training through a subscription package. Rather than installing simulators inside buildings, the subscription package involves renting a climate-controlled trailer with its latest simulators and professional instructor employed by L-3.
Drivers complete computerized courses first and then use the simulators to apply the topics and learning objectives.
The simulators have a high fidelity motion bay that replicates the experience of road vibration, sliding on wet surfaces and more. A new visual system gives drivers accurate depth perception and life-like graphics, says Matt Derby, marketing communications manager for L-3 Driver Training Solutions.Fleets that use the mobile training option will typically sign up for one-week to have drivers complete several training courses. L-3 has about 18 different courses to choose from which include fuel management, maneuvering and distracted driving and more. The pricing is determined by the number of courses that fleets sign up for.
Typically, fleets sign up for two courses and train 40 drivers during a one-week period, he says. Each training session lasts four hours.
L-3 has put together several training packages that include several courses each for specific needs in the market. The names of three of these packages are Post-CDL Finishing, Safety Refresher and Post Incident. Each mobile training package costs $12,000.
P&S Transportation (CCJ Top 250, No. 110) purchased a simulator from L-3 in March, 2014. The flatbed hauler installed the new simulator along with a computer training work station inside a 42-foot trailer for mobile use.
The Birmingham, Ala.-based company uses the simulators to target behaviors for following distance, speed, recognition of road signs (construction, speeding, low bridge, etc.), maneuvers at intersections and awareness of seasonal hazards.
P&S designs and builds its own scenarios based off the approaching season, says Johnathan Marshall, director of safety.
“We look at data on prior accidents to help determine future focal points. Our instructor attempts to visit each terminal location so that every driver has an opportunity to complete the training,” he says.
Accident rates have decreased since March, 2014, which Marshall credits to simulator training combined with other safety training.
“Typically when a driver finishes our training, he is more acceptable to additional training in the future. Based off of the drivers comments, the technology has improved, the scenarios are more realistic and the scenarios are presented in a professional way to help educate the driver and improve their skill level,” he says.Don Osterberg has retired from a career in driver training. He implemented a simulation training program while working at one of the largest truckload carriers in North America. The simulation training program, he says, was initially focused primarily on inexperienced commercial drivers which were the majority of the company’s new hires.
A pilot study was conducted using L-3 simulators to train inexperienced drivers to compare results to a control group who went through the legacy training program. Both groups had approximately 300 drivers each. One of the results from the study was a significant decrease in accidents for the test group. Ten percent of drivers trained with simulators were involved in some type of accident during the first 90 days of work compared to 30 percent of the control group.
The most financially-significant outcome was the reduction in training cycle time from 52.5 days for the control group to 32 days for the pilot group, he says. A reduction in training time resulted in increased revenue and decreased costs from fewer instructors and dedicated equipment for training. The pilot group also had a 20 percent better retention rate through the first 90 days of employment, he says, due to an increase in drivers’ confidence.]]>
SmartDrive Systems, a provider of video-based driver performance systems that reduce collisions and improve fuel efficiency, announced that customer Flagger Force has reduced its incident damage costs by 33 percent as a result of implementing SmartDrive.
The SmartDrive program is used for both new hires and existing drivers. In addition to achieving lower damage costs per mile, SmartDrive-equipped vehicles support Flagger Force employees’ advancement along the company’s defined career path.
Based in the Mid-Atlantic region, Flagger Force is one of the fastest-growing work zone safety companies in the nation. The company specializes in short-term traffic control services with 1,400 employees in the field and a fleet of 775 vehicles that serve as rolling advertisements for the brand.
SmartDrive allows fleet managers to monitor and coach new drivers to ensure they adhere to best practices and collaborate with veteran employees to reinforce effective habits.
“When we had 100 employees, I was concerned about their lives. Today, with well over 1,000, I continue to worry about the impact it would have if we lost a colleague or caused a catastrophic incident in the field,” stated Mike Doner, co-owner of Flagger Force. “SmartDrive’s safety program gives us peace of mind, not only because we know exactly what happened in each accident, but also because we can proactively identify high-risk situations and coach our drivers to improve performance before a collision occurs.”
Flagger Force uses SmartDrive footage to analyze incidents, exonerate drivers and as the basis for constructive conversations related to driving performance. Employees apply this information to their jobs on a daily basis, helping reduce the frequency and severity of accidents, while also attaining skills required as part of the company’s structured career development strategy.
“Mike and his team have done a remarkable job of seamlessly integrating the SmartDrive program into the fabric of their operation with impressive results,” stated Steve Mitgang, CEO of SmartDrive. “By reducing vehicle damage-related costs by one-third, Flagger Force proves that a focus on safety is great for the bottom line, and an investment in our video safety program delivers an immediate ROI.”]]>
“As winter approaches, we want to equip fleets and their drivers with the best information available for increasing safety on America’s congested and frequently traveled roads,” said Dean Croke, vice president of analytics at Omnitracs. “With fewer daylight hours and compromised road conditions, seasonal weather creates many challenges for truck drivers. Using data and advice from experts, our team has developed a great list of tips that we hope will go a long way to reduce the effect of the challenges drivers face this time of year.”
On average, 467 fatalities are associated with icy driving conditions annually, and 23 percent of vehicle crashes– 1.3 million–are caused during inclement weather. The below list outlines Omnitracs’ top tips for avoiding dangerous situations.
The non-asset based logistics provider made the decision to enable MacroPoint across its entire network of more than 10,000 motor carriers.
“We decided to enable MacroPoint on as close as possible to 100 percent of the loads we broker at no charge to our customers,” said Jeremy Becker, executive VP at Kirsch Transportation Services. “In our initial experience with MacroPoint tracking more than 1,500 loads on select accounts for the past two years, we saved about five minutes per load by not having to make check calls and confirm pickups and deliveries with drivers.
“We view MacroPoint as an investment rather than an expense, and as a value added part of our service offering that gives customers peace of mind,” Becker added. “We anticipate MacroPoint will be used to track between 450 and 500 loads per week and will drive an uptick in business with both current and new customers.”
Headquartered in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Kirsch Transportation Services is a minority and woman-owned family operated non-asset based logistics provider. The rapidly growing company has doubled its sales volume over the past two years brokering a 50/50 mix of dry van and flatbed loads.
Kirsch also recently invested in the PowerBroker freight brokerage operations management system from McLeod Software, which is integrated with the MacroPoint load tracking solution. Once fully enabled, the company will provide shippers with access to load location by issuing them a separate sign on to MacroPoint.]]>
Lytx, a provider of video-based driver safety and compliance systems, has opened entries for its annual “Driver of the Year” and “Coach of the Year” awards.
The Lytx Driver of the Year and Coach of the Year awards recognize individual drivers and fleet safety personnel at organizations currently using the Lytx DriveCam program.
Award submissions may be completed online and are due by Jan. 4, 2016. Winners will be announced at the Lytx Users Group Conference to be held Feb. 22 – 24 in San Diego.
Winners receive a monetary prize, and the first place winners will be awarded an expense-paid trip to San Diego to accept their awards.
“Safe drivers don’t just keep themselves and their cargo safe – they help keep roads safe for everyone around them,” said Del Lisk, vice president of safety solutions for Lytx, Inc. “These stellar drivers and coaches come from different sectors of the transportation industry, traveling different routes, but they share a common goal of making every journey a safe one.”
Lytx will recognize drivers who operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner, who have excelled in the DriveCam program, and whose contributions have enhanced the overall image of professional driver safety. The Coach of the Year award honors those who have risen above others in their coaching role, and whose contributions have enhanced the overall safety of their organization, by helping their drivers develop and improve their safe driving skills.
Past honorees have come from organizations as diverse as Cemex, Waste Management, Renzenberger, Inc., and City of Tyler, Texas.
To enter, interested drivers and coaches should visit the awards section of the Lytx website or or go directly to www.lytx.com/2016Awards.]]>
Thanksgiving week over the last three years has seen thefts of $6 million in cargo, 44 semitractors and 51 semitrailers, according to crime analytics group CargoNet.
Texas has experienced the highest amount of theft during that period. Data shows 59 percent of all thefts occurred in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and New Jersey. Thefts increased from Monday of Thanksgiving week before spiking on Wednesday, then decreasing to average levels of theft.
All recorded truck stop thefts took place in the eastern half of the United States. According to the CargoNet data, food and beverage cargo was the most targeted commodity, followed by metals. Nonalcoholic beverages and meat products were the most stolen in the food and beverage category; copper was the most stolen metal.FreightWatch International, a supply chain intelligence center, released additional data Nov. 19 showing the transportation industry has seen an average of over three thefts a day during the Thanksgiving weekend since 2010. FreightWatch’s data shows 12 reported cargo theft incidents during the Thanksgiving weekend, totalling more than $930,000 in losses.
The Thanksgiving weekend experiences an increased target period for electronics, clothing and shoes, home and garden products, and food and drinks.
CargoNet listed noteworthy thefts from previous Thanksgiving holidays: