Fleets go digital to hire, train drivers remotely during coronavirus

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Updated Jul 23, 2020
Trailiner has driver recruits complete orientation training remotely, and dispatches them on their first load on the day they arrive to its office in Springfield, Mo.Trailiner has driver recruits complete orientation training remotely, and dispatches them on their first load on the day they arrive to its office in Springfield, Mo.

In mid-March, transportation companies in North America had to adjust quickly to shelter-in-place rules by governments to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As an “essential” business they could operate as normal, but most took proactive measures to restrict in-person contact in the office and with drivers. Being able to remotely hire and onboard drivers became a critical need, along with finding ways to be more efficient in a tough economy.

The COVID-19 crisis has increased demand for technology that can digitize the driver hiring and training process.

Removing the touch points

In October 2019, refrigerated truckload carrier Trailiner began using DriverReach for recruiting and compliance management together with an online learning management system (LMS) from Luma Brighter Learning.

Trailiner, which operates 125 trucks, previously brought new driver hires to its office in Springfield, Mo., to fill out employment forms and complete two days of orientation training in person.

With the integrated platforms, drivers complete an online job application in DriverReach and as soon as a hiring decision is made, driver names, addresses, license numbers and other information auto-populate digital employment and policy forms in the Luma LMS.

After saving time completing the forms online, new driver hires receive an orientation packet from the Luma platform as part of an automated workflow. The LMS comes with a collection of more than 400 learning modules called Luma eNuggets that cover relevant safety, compliance and orientation topics.

New driver hires can finish Trailiner’s orientation training in about six hours from the comfort of their own homes. When they come to the office they are dispatched on their first load after a tour of the facility, said Anthony Meloy, training and recruiting manager of Trailiner.

Kottke Trucking schedules live orientation training meetings with drivers at home, which saves between $300 and $500 for each driver it hires.Kottke Trucking schedules live orientation training meetings with drivers at home, which saves between $300 and $500 for each driver it hires.

Kottke Trucking, a Buffalo Lake, Minn.-based dry van and refrigerated carrier with 225 drivers, has been using the Luma training platform since the summer of 2019. To streamline the flow of driver recruiting and hiring through orientation, the company added DriverReach in March 2020.

After drivers complete an orientation training packet from the Luma system, Kottke schedules a remote orientation training meeting using LumaLive, a secure video conferencing tool included in Luma’s LMS.

The live training meeting lasts about eight hours total and is split over two days. During the LumaLive session, Vice President of Human Resources Brenda Kraft reviews policies from the pages of Kottke’s digital driver handbook on the screen. Drivers also meet with fleet administrators in payroll, operations and other departments.

“Drivers are our top priority, and this is something we’ve done to help ease them into a new work environment,” Kraft said. “It is always a plus to be able to put a face to a name.”

Driving better results

Since using the integrated DriverReach and Luma LMS platforms, Trailiner and Kottke Trucking have seen the following results with recruiting, hiring and onboarding:

  • Rapid communications: Recruiters can stay in touch with drivers to obtain needed information using the SMS and email features in both platforms, which can also send drivers alerts before their qualifications, such as medical cards and CDLs, expire. Both fleets use the Luma LMS to assign and track training completions. Drivers receive the assignments via email to login from any device. Kottke Trucking has a nearly 100% completion rate for the orientation training packet before drivers attend its LumaLive orientation meeting, Kraft said.
  • Cost reduction: By conducting orientation training remotely, Trailiner and Kottke Trucking have eliminated the costs of hotels and food for two days of in-person training. Since using LumaLive for orientation meetings, Kottke Trucking’s Brenda Kraft estimates the company is saving $300 to $500 for every new driver it hires.
  • Training authenticity: The interactive Luma eNugget modules have multi-media options and a game-like environment that cater to the unique learning preferences of truck drivers. Prior to Luma, Trailiner had a “piecemeal” assortment of training videos and DVDs. With the collection from Luma, the company has engaging training content that can be designed “specifically for our company versus using something generic,” said Meloy.
  • Driver convenience: Trailiner and Kottke Trucking have increased driver satisfaction with the remote training meetings. With LumaLive, drivers login to the LMS to attend a meeting from any device, and the LMS automatically tracks their attendance and saves recorded sessions for later viewing.

Starting in April, Trailiner held its first monthly safety meeting using LumaLive. Before, when the meetings were held in person, 30 to 40 drivers would show up, Meloy said. With LumaLive, more than 50 drivers attended and even more watched it afterwards. Trailiner also recently began using LumaLive for weekly driver meetings to discuss company news and industry updates.

Kottke Trucking’s remote orientation training using LumaLive has been a big selling point to driver recruits, especially during the COVID crisis with many concerned about social distancing, said Kayla McDonald, recruiting coordinator.

Ready for the future

Trailiner and Kottke Trucking digitized their driver recruiting and onboarding process before the COVID-19 crisis erupted. When the crisis ends, neither company plans to go back to in-person orientation training meetings.

Using the technology to hire and train drivers remotely is “how we are going to be able to get drivers in the future,” Meloy said. By making the process seamless, drivers are able to come to work at Trailiner and quickly “get back out there making money again.”

In addition to the benefit of attending orientation training at home, Trailiner gives drivers the option to earn $100 by attending its monthly safety meetings online. Those who watch a recorded session within three days of the live event earn $50.

Likewise, for Kottke Trucking remote driver orientation is here to stay.

When the company started using the Luma platform and DriverReach, management had not considered the advantages the technology would have for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Those advantages have reinforced its decision to continue on the path.

“For the comfort of the driver, we wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Kraft said. “Fortunately, we were working towards the future, and making it more convenient for drivers and all parties involved and this was the way to go.”