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Becoming a Best Fleet to Drive For

Have you seen this logo? It’s coming to a Facebook page, recruiting ad or trailer wrap near you. On March 5, at the annual Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) convention in Las Vegas, we were very proud to recognize our 2013 Best Fleets...


Have you seen this logo? It's coming to a Facebook page, recruiting ad or trailer wrap near you.
Have you seen this logo? It's coming to a Facebook page, recruiting ad or trailer wrap near you.

Have you seen this logo? It’s coming to a Facebook page, recruiting ad or trailer wrap near you. On March 5, at the annual Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) convention in Las Vegas, we were very proud to recognize our 2013 Best Fleets to Drive For, and announce the overall winners: Grand Island Express and Landstar System. The Top 20 included six fleets based in Canada, and ranged in size from 25 company drivers to more than 8,000 independent contractors.

Now, a month later, Best Fleets still isn’t over (in fact, it’s become nearly a year-long process for us here at CarriersEdge). Mark Murrell will be hitting the road in a few weeks to begin his cross-Canada Best Fleets speaking tour, where he’ll be talking about the Top 20’s innovative programs.

So how does a fleet get into this exclusive group? It all starts with a single driver or contractor filling out the online nomination form and telling us why his or her company stands out. When we started Best Fleets, we wanted to shine a light on the companies that build great workplaces, and we see evidence of those great workplaces in every nomination.

Phrases like, “They truly care about our success,” and “I have company support 24 hours a day,” come in every day during the six-week nomination period.

Those comments highlight the fact that a great workplace is more than just safety, operations, and maintenance. Every day, drivers are affected by the policies and actions of all the company’s departments.

When those departments work well together, the results are obvious. When they don’t? Well…it can be rough.

To find out more about a company’s workplace experience, we ask about 90 questions in an online questionnaire and follow-up interview. The questions probe a lot of different areas and the answers give us a comprehensive picture of how each fleet works. In fact, just asking the questions helps fleets examine their processes and make improvements. Here’s a taste of those questions and what we’re interested in for each:

How does the company ensure its total work environment meets the needs of drivers?
What we’re really asking is how much communication is there between the company and the drivers? Is the company just waiting to hear a complaint before they do anything or are they more proactive? We aren’t interested in how a company attracts drivers; we want to know what keeps the drivers there. (Hint: an open-door policy only gets you so far).

What mechanisms are in place to resolve problems with shippers?
We know that loading docks are not the most fun places to hang out, so we want to know what a company does to keep problems with shippers to a minimum. Does the company set expectations for shippers? How are problems resolved? What support mechanisms do the drivers have? Changes in hours-of-service rules have made proactive communication much more important and our Top 20 have some innovative ways of handling shipper issues. Landstar’s MUST program is one of my favourites.

Is there a benchmarking system in place for top performers?
Whatever your opinion of CSA, it has certainly changed the responses we get to this question since 2010. Many fleets use some sort of driver scorecard that at least partially ties into CSA. But how are fleets using these scorecards? Can drivers compare their performance to that of the fleet? Can they do this on a regular basis? (Grand Island Express does it weekly). Technology is making this easier, and it is emerging as a best practice.

Are there any formal coaching or mentoring programs available for drivers?
What does a company do to improve performance? What happens once orientation is over? Coaching and mentoring are popular methods of improving driver performance and through the five years of the program, this is where we hear some of the most original ideas. I love this question.

What types of support systems are available for drivers or their families?
Does the company go above and beyond with assistance? Financial? Legal? We ask about wellness programs and how fleets are encouraging drivers to adopt a healthier lifestyle (the most successful wellness programs are adopted in the office as well). In driver surveys, we frequently hear a very positive response to support systems.

So there you go; a snippet of the 90 questions that we ask fleets nominated by one of their drivers. Once we have completed interviews, we take it to the drivers again. This time, we ask drivers to complete a survey about the company, which can really shed light on how effective the fleet’s programs really are!

During the Best Fleets tour this spring, Mark will talk about the results of this year’s program – the answers the fleets gave us, and the feedback from the drivers. For more information, check out www.BestFleetsToDriveFor.com.

 – Jane Jazrawy is vice-president, products, for CarriersEdge and the co-founder of the Best Fleets to Drive For. She can be reached at jane@carriersedge.com.


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