Why not us? How to improve fleet performance

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I have done a dozen or more Retention Action Plan rollouts over the past couple of years. One of the key questions that I pose to folks during the onsite workshops revolves around the TCA’s “Best Fleets to Drive For” contest and the “Safest Fleets in North America” contest.

The question is, what do those fleets that go up on that stage to accept their awards have that your company doesn’t? From the outside looking in, they have trucks, they have drivers, and they have a supporting infrastructure that strives to pick it up on time and deliver it on time, same as every other fleet in the industry, right? So why aren’t you folks up there in the limelight?

In agreeing with that statement, you would be spot on in the notion that they have the same key elements that any other company has, but there is so much more to it.

When you look a little deeper, these winning companies also have several clearly stated core values that are rock solid and unflinching. They also commit to a level of performance that brings with it a thirst to become better every single day in every element of their business.

If you can create that type of culture in your business, you will be standing on stage accepting awards regularly. So, if you’re not on stage collecting these types of awards, you are likely wondering how to get at it and be that carrier.

It starts with a refocus on accepting your current situation and owning it. What I mean by that is you need to take responsibility for where you’re at with your business, the good the bad and the ugly. Because, if you don’t, you will not be able to move on from where you’re at and create the winning culture that you desire.

CSA scores are not where they should be, own it, you let it get there, no one else. Turnover is not anywhere it should and could be, own it, you set everything up exactly right to get the numbers you have. Profitability has been sliding, and you don’t see a clear path forward back to black ink; you did that. To many unseated trucks against the fence crunching your cash flow, you own that one too, and you did it take responsibility for it.

Whatever it is before you can move on and take control of the situation, you have to accept the concept that you created the environment/culture within your business to allow this type of subpar performance.

Allowing the blame game to creep into your business almost certainly guarantees a multitude of excuses that are designed to divert responsibility anywhere but where it belongs, and that is at your feet and the feet of your people. Poor CSA scores mean that safety likely does not have a proper seat at the table in your management hierarchy. Safety is a moral obligation to the communities you operate in and everyone in your business what authority do they have in your business to achieve best in class performance.

The turnover in your business is directly related to your companies’ efforts in creating a driver-centric culture. What strategy do you employ to effect change in your retention numbers? Do you have your frontline workers engaged in this effort? Do they have the authority to contribute to the effort? How do you foster that? Profitability is not what it should be. Are you so caught up in the whirlwind of operating in your business and not on your business that you can’t see the dollars flying out the window because of forever putting out fires? Where is the stability in the day-to-day operations you need? It’s there. You just need to bring the right discipline to the table, structure and above all that sense of responsibility to a higher standard of performance.

You get the idea here: we all reside in the communities we live in because we’re comfortable there; we’re in the relationship that we’re in with spouses’ friends because we’re happy around those folks. We’ve got their backs, and we know they have ours. A winning company shines above the rest because they have created a positive sense of community within their business. Workers have a sense of autonomy, and they believe that what they do contributes to the overall success, it’s fulfilling work.

Ask yourself this simple question if you were a driver or owner-operator looking for a carrier to work for, would you work for your company, if not you have to ask yourself why that’s a good starting point. Next question, if you were a driver looking for work, would the fact that a carrier had won multiple awards influence your decision when deciding where it is that you are going to spend your career?

So, why is it not you representing your company up there on stage accepting these awards? Only you can answer that question. Could it be that status quo has become a comfortable place for you to work in, taking second best is just good enough? I think that this quote comes close to the facts, “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

Busting out of the mold of being okay with results that are just not as good as they could be is not easy, but neither is anything worth pursuing; it all starts with the first step. This is where good can be the enemy of great the leaders in charge of the companies accepting those awards were not afraid to jeopardize good performance to go for great results.

It takes a good team, a good plan, and leadership that is dogged in the pursuit of being named best in class. It’s never too late, folks. If you would like to discuss this subject further, please drop me a line.

Safe trucking!



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Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.

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