The problem with managing speed in your fleet is that it isn’t very exciting.
It’s really rewarding when you first see the results of your efforts as your fleet profile improves, but then the phone rings and the operation takes on its own life again.
About now the personal trainers around the country are having a marketing field day. People who started the new year bursting with enthusiasm for going to the gym and eating nothing but lettuce, are starting to rediscover Friday night drinks with their friends and the chocolate aisle in the supermarket. You’ll spot them – these are the guys that last week were loudly telling everyone that they were heading for the gym as they left the office, but haven’t mentioned it this week.
And so it is with speed management. When you start doing some research on why your trucks shouldn’t speed and all of the operational and cost benefits of driving to the speed limit, the case for change is compelling. With this motivation front of mind, you start talking to your drivers, setting up alerts from your GPS system, calling the drivers during the day, perhaps even doling out chocolate fish for the “best” driver. But then what?
Perhaps you need to start calling your customers to discuss a 15% levy on ferry rates, or the VDAM rules change and you need to assess the effect it will have on your fleet. Suddenly 6 weeks have flown by and nothing has been said to the drivers about speed. At the same time, the “busy” vibe has purveyed the whole operation and the drivers try to help out by speeding up in the hope of cutting a few minutes off each trip to make sure each customer gets their delivery on time.
We have seen overwhelming evidence of fleets who have managed to weather this storm and make speed management an ongoing part of their day to day jobs. Whilst this on its own isn’t the reason those fleets have a lower driver turnover and better safety records, it is the processes that they use to be able to fit the long term view into their job, as well as the Right Now operational jobs which make these the great fleets to work for.
As one customer put it to us recently “when the speed management project was new and shiny we got right into it, but I’m not sure when we stopped reminding the drivers.” There is no doubt in my mind that transport is not getting any easier. Even those fleets who initially were not affected by the driver shortage are now feeling the bite. Drivers have their preferences about the sort of work they want to do – we’ve seen linehaul drivers swap to stock units, logging drivers swap to metro deliveries, thankfully there is no one perfect job for a driver. Likewise there are drivers who will search out a fleet that will “leave them alone to get on with it” although these guys seem to be in the minority. Drivers want to get home to their families, just like the rest of us. They appreciate a tidy, well maintained truck, office staff who are efficient & friendly and a boss who is actively looking out for their safety.
What will it take to make driver support the central pillar of your fleet? Your drivers are the ambassadors for your fleet – to your customers, suppliers, and to their driving mates. Take care of them, by demonstrating that you expect the highest standards so that they are as safe as they can be on our crazy roads, and they will certainly be sticking around to tell a few people about it.