Simplify systems to retain drivers, enhance operations

George Thellman Headshot
Updated Jul 9, 2021
Driver with a tablet
The menace of the working world is “app overload," and this is especially frustrating and dangerous for professional truck drivers who have to login to multiple job-related apps.

Increasing driver retention is one of the holy grails of fleet management. One approach that has been gaining traction follows the simple philosophy of treating drivers fully as people in a demanding occupation, rather than as commodities or monetized assets.

The job of driving requires a lot of time, effort and attention. As such, fleets can show drivers a great deal of respect by valuing their time and making their work easier. The following two ideas will do just that and provide an added benefit of improving fleet operations and profitability.

Create a single sign on experience

To make the work experience more seamless for drivers, get everything that drivers need from the office (or as much of it as possible), onto one platform. For example, drivers should not need to enter their name/credentials more than once when starting their workday to receive messages from dispatch, see their scorecard and so forth.

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Any additional logins waste time that could be more effectively spent driving, or worse, contribute to drivers trying to multi-task while in motion. Distraction comes easily when drivers have to switch between apps or enter multiple log-ins.

Creating a “single sign-on” experience for drivers also boosts security. Users will not have the risky but common behavior of carrying a single password across several gateways. Not only does it make sense for drivers but it also improves the work experience for office team members.

The menace of the working world, “app overload,” is a prime driver of inefficiency and poor productivity. Studies estimate that it takes 20 minutes to get back into the groove after being distracted or sidetracked. Further, studies show that app-switching wastes more than an hour a day, which adds up to more than a month of workdays per year.

Cleaning up this messy way of operating will create a more effective workforce.

Digitize paperwork

Document management is another area that positively impacts the lives of drivers, office-based team members and the overall health of a business.

It is no secret that transportation is a paperwork-heavy industry, so this is an area of focus that doesn’t need to take a back seat to much else.

Fleets do not want their drivers to have more reasons than necessary to get out of their vehicles to perform non-driving tasks. One way to help accomplish this is for the driver to scan a bill of lading after delivering a load and send it electronically.

It’s easy to see how this moves the driver along. He or she just has to take a picture, transmit it and get back on her way without fuss. But what happens from there might be a different story.

A common set-up would have team members back at the office performing data input from incoming scanned files. This time-consuming manual process is redundant and prone to data input errors from document overload.

If five workers receive 100 documents in a day, only 80% of them may get done because of manual labor and other issues. This amounts to another 100 documents at the end of the day that go into the next day’s pile or have to be addressed with overtime.

A relatively simple automated process can monitor emails that come in with files; perform a scan for the relevant data; conduct ICR data extraction of text with impressively high accuracy rates for translating all but the very sloppiest handwriting; input the data into an appropriate system; and notify personnel of any fields needed for manual intervention.

In this way, 10 to 15 minutes of data entry are transformed into one to two minutes of review. Initial estimates indicate that businesses following this strategy can see immediate savings.

As the daily workload gets cleared, team members gain more time to do more critical tasks. Sending out more invoices in a quicker window also speeds up the payment cycle.

These and other efforts that ease the work-life of drivers and team members will have a boomerang effect that creates both immediate and long-lasting benefits for the business.

George Thellman is senior director of transportation management solutions at EOX Vantage, a provider of custom applications and digital services based in Beachwood, Ohio.