What the ‘Best Fleets’ are doing to be the best

by Sonia Straface

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – To be among the best trucking companies in North America, all it takes is a little creativity, according to Mark Murrell and Jane Jazrawy of CarriersEdge, the brains behind the Best Fleets to Drive For program.

Both Murrell and Jazrawy gave an inside look at the top trends found in this year’s driver and fleet surveys at the Truckload Carrier’s Association 80th annual convention.

Here are three trends they found interesting this year.

Breaking down office silos
What many Best Fleets are doing today, Jazrawy said, are doing away with having separate departments for different job functions. That means, there aren’t separate isolated departments for safety, maintenance, recruitment, etc. She said that this can create more harm than good.

“Often times, departments get siloed. They have information that they only possess, and aren’t sharing. They see things are happening, that they aren’t talking about it at the executive level,” she said.

Instead, Best Fleets are changing this by some creative rearranging of the physical office space.

“Lots of people are getting new terminals and redoing offices that allows drivers and staff to work together,” she said. “One fleet actually tore down walls so that executives could see drivers coming in. That physical space is important if you don’t design it with the drivers in mind.”

As well, with a siloed environment, it can feel as if drivers do not have a real place of their own in the terminal, because they are on the road. Instead, Jazrawy recommends staying in contact with drivers.

“If you’re not reaching out, (drivers) can move further and further away. You need to have communication between the departments and the drivers,” she said. “If you are not talking to your drivers, then you better start because you are way behind. The Best Fleets do a whole whack of things to talk to drivers. Surveys after orientations, talking to drivers about expectations before orientation, motivation interviews. The more you can talk to drivers about their experiences, the better.”

A good example of a carrier that breaks down silos the best is Bison Transport, Jazrawy said.

“Bison is doing things for one purpose,” she said. “They are working for the same team for the same purpose. They even have a hashtag #OneBison that is used to show everybody is working together.”

Driver pay packages
The whole idea of Best Fleets is to go beyond the dollars and cents, said Murrell, and create a better work environment. So, this year, Best Fleets didn’t release a detailed report on how much drivers and owner-operators were paid, and it makes a point to not choose fleets based solely on how much they paid drivers. Instead,

Murrell said the program focused on approaches to compensation packages.

According to Murrell, a majority (86.7%) of drivers in the program think they are compensated fairly.

“What drivers care about is the elements around knowing what’s happening and stability,” he said.

This year, once again, guaranteed pay was a trend, with 45% of the Top 20 Best Fleets having full guaranteed pay for drivers.

A broader part of total compensation are things like health insurance, Murrell said.

“We’ve seen some real dramatic shifts thing year in health insurance time coverage. It used to be three to six months before drivers were eligible to get on a company’s insurance plan. That’s shifted tremendously in the last year and half…fleets will now have drivers on their insurance plans after just one month,” he said.

The reason behind this?

They want to encourage those older, experienced drivers to sign on with them, without having their health insurance benefits interrupted for an extended period of time.

Sometimes, compensation is more than just how much you’re paid in dollars, Murrell said. You just have to get a little big creative.

Improving the driver experience
More carriers in the Best Fleets program are turning their attention to making the lives of drivers better.

A trend Jazrawy noticed was more fleets are splurging for their drivers to have certain amenities inside and outside of the truck.

Inside the truck, Best Fleets are providing drivers with more comfortable seats, refrigerators, upgraded mattresses, satellite radio and televisions and additional space.

Outside of the truck, think about hotel programs, gym memberships, shower programs, Jazrawy said to the fleet owners in the room.

“One thing that’s really important about this is, get driver input on this,” she said.. “A lot of people don’t do anything, they just decide what to put in it. But this is a way to get driver input.”

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