One size fits all - or does it?

Published on March 29, 2023

Your fleet is unique in its culture, demands, and drivers, and your programs need to be tailored to fit those specific needs. While we share how companies have worked to become a Best Fleet to Drive For, don't forget: one size does not fit all!

Can you compete with the "big guys"?

We frequently hear from smaller fleets that they can't compete with bigger fleets. The good news is, you don't need to compete. You need to do what is best for your people and their needs. By tuning into what your drivers are saying, and responding to them, you can be just as successful. In fact, some large fleets would argue it is easier to become a Best Fleet when companies are smaller and more agile.

It's about the people

Investing in your people is essential, whether you have 10 or 10,000. This can take on many forms, from finding a training platform that works for them to having the right technology in the cab, from offering the benefits they need, to establishing hometime policies that work for them.

A caring culture

How do you show you care about your drivers? There are many ways to do this. Starting benefits on day one allows drivers to relax and know that if something happens out on the road they have medical coverage and life insurance for their family. Offering dependent/spousal coverage is another way to show that you care about the driver, and the people the driver cares about.

Once your drivers are out on the road, do they feel cared for? Do you call to check-in? How about sending a message to highlight ways to stay safe on their routes? Those are quick and easy ways to show you're thinking about them, the situations they are in, and that you want to help them get home safely. Making a call, doing a social media post, or sending a message is not expensive, and has a lasting impact.

Shifting your focus away from keeping the trailer/cargo safe to a message of being sure they are parked where they're safe changes the narrative. Sure, you want your customer's load to get to its destination safely but put your focus on your driver - show your concern for them, and they will care about their load.

If an accident happens, how do you respond? The Best Fleets are concerned for their drivers, first. How you care for your driver in the tough situations will determine their impression of you as an employer and how they perceive their value within your organization.

Appreciation - It's not just for one week

Do you go all out on Driver Appreciation Week, or are you concerned that your smaller fleet cannot afford luxurious swag and trips? Try a daily focus on appreciation. Thank you messages, gift cards, and social media posts about the small things your drivers do over the course of a typical day have a huge impact. From helping a customer to a stranded motorist, from helping each other to someone in the office, there is so much they do that you can appreciate!

For those that want to have an appreciation meal, it does not have to be elaborate. Large fleets may do a catered meal with all the bells and whistles, but a simple barbecue also shows your appreciation.

Respect too

Much like appreciation, respect can be shown in so many, affordable, ways. One way to show respect is to listen. Best Fleets do a great job of listening to their drivers through surveys, townhalls, and meetings (both in-person and virtual). If a driver has a concern, giving them a way to voice it makes it clear that their opinions are valued.

Always acknowledge what was shared, then set a plan. It can be a promise to review the situation, creating a committee to look into it, or putting it on the agenda for a meeting. It's critical to share your plan of action and your timeline. If needed, you can provide an update that you need longer on the issue, but communicate that too. These avenues don't have to cost a lot of money but go a long way towards building trust.

Sharing drivers' best practices, with credit, is a great way to show respect. How many times have you been called out in a meeting for a great idea? Drivers appreciate knowing they helped to shape plans, policies, and had an impact on the business.

The human connection

Do you have someone drivers can connect with, in real time? While smaller companies often feel that they can't hire someone to be available to answer calls 24/7, you can use what you have, with little to no expense. Do your drivers have each other's contact numbers? Do you have a driver social media account so they can communicate and offer assistance to each other? And what about the families of drivers? Do they have each contact information for other drivers' families? Helping families to connect can make things easier for your drivers on the home front.

Larger fleets may be able to host full company town halls, but so can smaller companies. Platforms like Zoom, Teams and Facebook Live make it possible to have your entire team involved for low (or no) cost. While larger teams may have the advantage of larger Driver Advisory Boards, smaller teams can engage all drivers in discussions and may be able to reach a consensus quicker.

Never let size stop you

One size, one plan, does not fit every fleet. Big or small, there are options available to you to make your company a welcoming place that drivers want to stay at, and that they are loyal to. Respect, appreciation, caring, and connection can transform any culture. Listen to your drivers and you will learn what they, and you, need to be successful.