Fleets for years have used performance data in driver scorecards to help identify and address problems. Now, with the help of companies that specialize in collecting and analyzing data, fleets are trying to go beyond identifying problems. They aim to head them off before they happen.
This story is the third of three remaining installments that examine three data management systems and three fleets that use them, with varying degrees of predictive analytics, to improve retention, safety or both.
Load One’s retention improved 27 percent with the introduction of Stay Metrics’ program in July 2012, says John Elliott, the fleet’s president.
The Taylor, Mich.-based expedited carrier was Stay Metrics’ first customer. Elliott has been pleased with the program, which has helped drive turnover to below 40 percent, where it has held for months. Load One has about 375 trucks, four out of five controlled by owner-operators.
Going with Stay Metrics meant not only getting more data from the vendor’s driver surveys, but also instituting its rewards program. “I was surprised by the direct correlation between involvement in the program and retention,” Elliott says.
Drivers’ preferences also came as a surprise. “Everyone assumes pay is the number one driving factor,” he says. “I think it was number five.” Respect came in No. 1.
Getting driver feedback on not just dispatchers but also maintenance, administration and safety “opened peoples’ eyes a little bit more,” Elliott says. “When drivers saw they were not always the only ones under the microscope, that it was a two-way street, it increased the level of awareness and respect.”
The rewards program “is not based on taking one more load, to coerce him to do something he didn’t want to do,” he says. “We tailored it to ‘Here’s the thing you’re supposed to be doing, and if you do it to standard, we want to reward you for it.’”
Practices such as turning in maintenance reports on time and reaching six-month anniversary dates produce points that can be redeemed for items like electronics or jewelry.
Identifying and reaching out to dissatisfied drivers is effective because, Elliott says, “so many times, until the question is asked, the driver doesn’t say anything.”
The Stay Metrics system concentrates on drivers’ attitudes during their first weeks with the carrier, including their buy-in to the rewards program.
“We already know, across the board, that drivers who don’t engage their employees’ recognition programs are twice as likely to leave,” says Tim Hindes, Stay Metrics’ CEO. Regarding turnover, 44 percent usually occurs within the first 90 days of employment.
Interviews are done at day seven on the job and again at day 45. The first mostly is about recruiting and understanding of the company culture. The second checks to see if promises made during recruiting have been fulfilled. If those surveys show a serious lack of engagement, “those drivers go back to the recruiting department,” Hindes says.Another survey is done annually. It covers “everything that happens to a driver – pay, quality of equipment, dispatcher relationship,” he says.
A key part of the surveys is the dispatcher relationship, says Tim Judge, a Notre Dame faculty member who works closely with Hindes. “People who are satisfied with their dispatchers are 57 percent less likely to leave than people who are dissatisfied,” Judge says.One Stay Metrics customer fired two dispatchers after seeing how drivers felt about them. Another fleet was about to increase pay rates, then learned that non-pay issues were affecting their satisfaction levels more, so those were addressed, Hindes says.
Another fleet, paying 33 cents a mile plus a 10-cent safety bonus, thought the pay was high enough. When surveys showed drivers didn’t see it that way, the structure was killed, and base pay was set at 43 cents.
Retention improves for 83 percent of the fleets that have been in the program a year, Hindes says. The average improvement is 15 percent.