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How Does your Fleet Stack Up Against the Rest?

Thinkin’ you work for a pretty great fleet? One that treats you and other drivers well? Well, it’s that time of year again; the Best Fleets to Drive For program is now accepting nominations, so if you’re happy with the fleet you drive for, nominate them!

The program is produced by CarriersEdge, a leading provider of online driver training for the trucking industry, in partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). The Best Fleets to Drive For is the only annual program that seeks to find the best workplaces in the North American trucking industry. So, winning is a pretty big deal…your nomination could put your fleet in the limelight.

For your company to be eligible, it must be a for-hire company, and operate 10 or more trucks in the U.S. or Canada. And guess what? They don’t even need to be a member of TCA.

You may be thinking to yourself, what makes a good fleet and a legit contender to win? Well, we caught up with CarriersEdge Co-Founder Mark Murrell, who gave us some insight on the program.

What has Caught your Eye from Past Winners and Finalists?

“We really look for fleets that are doing something unique with their drivers — fostering a positive work environment. One of last year’s winners, for example, has a concierge service for the drivers, welcoming them home after a delivery.  Other fleets use social media for open forums between management and drivers — keeping communication links strong. Some fleets develop better models for driver pay and find ways to get drivers home more often. Each year we see new things and that’s exciting. More fleets are understanding how vital drivers are to the operation.”

What’s New in the Program for this Year?

“Each year, the corporate questionnaire and driver survey are updated to reflect new ideas and trends discovered from the previous year. This allows the program to capture best practices as they’re emerging, and ensures that each year’s winners reflect the latest innovations in the industry.

“The program has been updated to dig even deeper into participating companies. While the program has always sought out great ideas and innovations, this year’s questionnaire increases the focus on another equally important ingredient – execution.

“In addition to capturing the places where companies are finding new approaches to the industry’s problems, this year the Best Fleets program is spending more time on exactly how companies keep those new ideas running smoothly. After all, new ideas are great, but if they’re not delivered consistently, or if they’re undermined by other actions in the company, they don’t benefit anyone. The Top 20 Best Fleets have been separating themselves from the pack by demonstrating top notch execution in their programs, so we’ll be exploring how they’re doing that, and learn more about the best practices that are emerging from those efforts.”

Do You have Some Specifics?

“We do.  We’ve broken it down into three categories, Communication, Operations and Payroll.”

Communications:

How companies solicit input from their drivers has always been an important part of the Best Fleets evaluation process. Collecting that feedback regularly, and acting on it, is a critical part of continuous improvement for a fleet. However, even with larger programs in place to capture driver sentiment (e.g. surveys, town halls), the day-to-day communication in the business can unwittingly negate those efforts. Fleets may talk about how important drivers are, and how the doors are always open, but if the daily communication to drivers is impersonal, overly bureaucratic, or intimidating, the company will struggle to build a collaborative and productive culture.

“Fleets that are executing well in this area have the same communication process for both driving and non-driving staff, with much of it handled through phone calls, email, or text messaging. That consistency, and the informality that inevitably builds through short, casual conversations, sends a clear message to drivers that the company sees them as part of a team, rather than a separate group requiring different rules. This approach contrasts sharply with fleets that still employ the “formal note in a mailbox” approach – invariably seen by drivers as stiff, impersonal, and often unsettling. With such a wide range of practices seen just through anecdotal evidence, this is one area where a deep dive is expected to provide some real insights into what works and what doesn’t.”

Operations

“Building on the broader communication piece, the specifics of day-to-day operations will also get a deeper look. Throughout the 10+ years of the Best Fleets program, we’ve seen a big shift in how fleets plan loads and dispatch drivers – moving away from the basic First-In-First-Out to today’s more personalized, automated load assignment systems that consider driver requirements, preferences, proximity, available hours, and a variety of other variables. Those innovations have improved things for drivers overall, but there will always be situations where the assigned loads are a problem for drivers. How fleets deal with those issues will be an area of focus this year:

“What’s the process when a driver wants to change an assignment?
When a driver needs to be home for a specific date, does the company meet that requirement?
How much cushion do they build into their planning to account for unforeseen delays?
How do they ensure drivers understand the assignment process, and feel it’s fair?

“These are just some of the things that can make or break a driver’s experience with the company. Much of the time problems are a result of an unclear process or lax oversight, so we’ll be looking at what fleets do to proactively avoid problems.”

Payroll

“Payroll is another area where a strong process and consistent execution can create either an exceptional or terrible experience for a driver. For the last few years, the Best Fleets evaluation has looked at how companies ensure payroll accuracy, and the responses have varied widely. Some fleets have no formal plan and deal with individual issues as they come up. Some fleets have a multistep process, with redundant checks to ensure accuracy. This year, the evaluation will start to dig more deeply into dispute resolution. Every company may have its own process for managing payroll accuracy, but mistakes and disputes will inevitably arise. How the company handles these unforeseen issues will be remembered by drivers long after the individual issue is settled.

“These are just some of the new areas we’ll be looking at as we interview this year’s crop of Best Fleets nominees. As always, it will be fascinating to see how companies are addressing these challenges, and where they’re heading in the future.”

Does your Fleet have What it Takes?

So, having read what Mark has to say about what they look for in their selection process, how does your fleet stack up? Maybe your fleet is doing something totally new and innovative that no one has seen before.

If you think your fleet is a good candidate, nominate them on the Best Fleets to Drive For website. If CarriersEdge thinks your fleet worthy of consideration, they’ll send out a questionnaire to a representative at your company. If that checks out, they’ll conduct a follow up interview. If your fleet has made it to the final stage, your company will receive driver surveys that ask about company programs and overall satisfaction.

While there are two overall winners, your fleet may still be recognized. The program has its prestigious Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For listing. And, if your fleet has reached the Top 20 for five consecutive years, they’ll be recognized for being a consistent innovative company. And, if you’re fleet just barely missed cracking into the Top 20, it could be recognized as a Fleet to Watch.

Nominations close on October 31. Good luck!