Your fleet obviously takes good care of its customers, and your customers likely take good care if you in the form of continued business and contracts to haul their freight.
But are your customers taking good care of your drivers?
That’s a key question every fleet must address from the leadership level and down. From dwell times and restroom access to clear instructions for entering and exiting, ease of backing to the docks, and the way staff treats your drivers — performing regular audits of drivers’ experience with your shipper customers and their consignees can help strengthen your relationship with your customers and your drivers. Not only does it give your team another opportunity to engage with your customers — it also shows drivers you’re working to address one of the issues most important to them.
Send leaders from operations and sales teams to facilities of the shipper customers you value and perform on-site audits at least once a year. Here are a few things to look for and to engage with your customers on:
Does the address provided match the entry and exit point for the docks? Is there a signage clearly stating where the entrance for shipping and receiving or loading and unloading are?
Not being clearly routed to the right entrance of a shipper or receiver facility creates a burden for drivers, as does a lack of signage directing them to the right place once on site. It wastes their time, and it can be frustrating to have to search for the right entrance and exit. It can also create a safety concern if they’re having to perform turnarounds to re-route or circle the facility in their truck and trailer. This wasted time can also eat into their pay.
So when you’re performing a site visit, see for yourself what the experience is like approaching the facility, finding the right entrance, and whether the address matches where drivers need to go. If not, work with your customers on addressing these points.
Are they taking steps to limit dwell times?
Unnecessary and excessive dwell times can eat into both your drivers’ paychecks and your fleet’s productivity and revenue. It’s also an industrywide pain point for drivers, and frustrations over excessive dwell times are a contributor to industry turnover and exits. Be flexible but firm on this issue with your shippers. Work to find proactive and creative approaches to limiting dwell times for your drivers and take a partnership-based approach to solving this issue, showing you’re committed to providing capacity commitments to your shippers while also improving your drivers’ experience.
Are drivers treated well on site? Do they have access to basic facilities like restrooms?
Are drivers treated with respect and like human beings by the staff on-site? Do they have restroom access? Are they greeted cordially by security attendants and dock personnel?
It’s a disrespectful contradiction for shippers to talk publicly about how drivers are foundational to their supply chains and are everyday heroes for keeping freight moving if they’re not also treating drivers well on site. Ensure your drivers have access to restrooms and air conditioning if needed, and work to provide on-site perks like water and other refreshments.
Ask your drivers about their experience at these facilities as an entry point to engage with your drivers, to hear their perspectives, and to let them know you’re listening — and that you take their feedback seriously and are trying to act on it.
Are you factoring driver pay into your pricing process?
Utilizing driver pay benchmarking to price your rates in contract negotiations is a vital part of building and maintaining a strong relationship with your customers. It gives your sales and operations teams an opportunity to sell your fleet’s ability to recruit and retain drivers, to be able to service your shippers’ needs with adequate capacity, and to offer rates pricing that can stick throughout the course of a contract.
If your fleet needs access to accurate, detailed data on driver wages and benefits benchmarks, contact NTI to learn how to access our surveys and benchmarking tools.
All month in the NTI blog, we’re celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week by offering tips and programs that fleets can incorporate to show year-around advocacy and appreciation for their drivers. Read more in the NTI blog.