During this year’s Private Motor Truck Council of Canada conference, Roy Craigen of Transcom Fleet Services gave a presentation on Empowering for Productivity. I think all of us in attendance felt somewhat empowered by his presentation, and chatting with a friend afterwards we agreed that the trucking industry would be much better off if there were more Roy Craigens around.
Despite the fact he’s a Roughriders fan (Go Stamps!), I consider Roy a real pal and I think most people who’ve met him would proudly refer to him as a friend. He’s one of the most genuine people-oriented guys that I know. I one time met him for coffee at a Tim Horton’s as he was passing through my neck of the woods. It was a Sunday morning in the summertime when most young’ens would rather be doing something other than schlepping at Timmy’s for near minimum wage.
When the girl behind the counter poured us our coffees with a smile, Roy said “Thanks for coming in today, we really appreciate what you do.” He said it without a hint of sarcasm, but she shot him a suspect glance. Chances are her supervisor had never taken the time to thank her for coming in on a beautiful Sunday morning and doing her job with a smile. Why was this stranger taking the time to acknowledge her for a job well done? Chances are it made a lasting impression. And that’s just Roy.
During his presentation, Roy asked the question: Why do we invest more in our equipment than in our people? A new tractor gets the following: A building; top of the line diagnostics equipment/computers; regularly-scheduled maintenance; and 24-hour assistance when required – all for an asset with a five-year life expectancy.
A professional driver on the other hand, receives: Access to a driver’s room; vending machines; and bulletin boards for communications – and the driver has 30 years of productivity potential. And yet pretty much any fleet manager says drivers are the company’s greatest asset – but where’s the evidence of that?
“That is not a very good support mechanism,” Roy pointed out, especially when the driver controls pretty much every big ticket item within a fleet: fuel, maintenance, customer service, image, insurance costs, etc. to name but a few. Roy urged fleet managers to think of a professional driver, not as a trucker, but as the manager of a mobile profit centre – they control every expense! And yet they are so often evaluated and beaten down, even by so-called “reward systems” that are frequently based on punishment.
“It hardly inspires,” he said. “If I lost my bonus in January, what does that do to me the other 11 and a half months I’m going to be driving your equipment?”
Here are a few more suggestions from Roy: Make driver orientation an event in which to showcase your organization. Become a tough line-up to crack. Drivers should leave an interview or orientation session asking ‘I wonder if I can measure up to these guys?’ Celebrate accomplishments (ie. becoming a Canadian citizen). Allow drivers to evaluate the company (“We have an army of people that get out of bed every day to assess drivers, let them evaluate us.”) Make sure your operations employees and dispatchers actually like drivers! “We’ll hire someone who can type 70-80 words per minute only to find out many months in, that they don’t like truck drivers!”
I can’t possibly do justice to Roy’s presentation in a single blog entry, but if you ever get the chance to hear him speak, take advantage of it. Your drivers will thank you for it.
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