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Remote onboarding and driver retention tips for fleets

May 29, 2020
Tenstreet and Transflo break down best practices to recruit and onboard drivers and train fleets remotely, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic or no pandemic, fleets are operating in a global, remote society. In order to maintain efficiency, commercial carriers, their associates, and their drivers must be able to access what they need to operate remotely, according to Marilyn Suber, transportation leader at Tenstreet, a software provider that connects carriers and drivers.

Surber and Doug Schrier, Transflo’s vice president of product and innovation, shared some best practices to recruit, onboard and train fleet drivers. The two were featured speakers on a webinar hosted by Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) .

Here are some of the key points and tips they offered:

Put in place an online application. This allows drivers to build their resumes online, and saves both parties time on the phone. 

Use a document uploader that allows fleets to gain signatures and documents from drivers remotely. Drivers can take a picture of a document with their smartphone, send it via an app, and fleet managers can then verify that it’s legal, Surber noted.

Use a form capture for paperwork for newly hired drivers. “Traditionally, you bring drivers into orientation and they might spend half of their whole first day filling out paperwork,” Surber explained, adding that drivers can fill out that paperwork electronically so when they attend orientation the manager already has the documentation.

Upload training content to completely onboard a driver remotely. Surber suggested fleets review orientation classes and training content that can be turned into online videos. “This is kind of where the rubber meets the road for carriers,” Surber said. “Even if you are still bringing drivers in for orientation, you can bring them in for a shorter period of time.”

“Everything we have done at Tenstreet is not mobile compatible, it’s mobile-first,” she added. “Everything we build, we build to be done on a phone. Drivers need to be able to get good quality work and good quality training on their phones."

Build cultural elements into the application. Schrier said Transflo recommends fleets incorporate elements like a video of the day into their app to keep employees informed.

Driver retention tips

Ensure technology is seamlessly integrated. Schrier emphasized the importance of having the ability to move a driver from the onboarding phase to working for the fleet and communicating with other employees.

Reach out to drivers remotely. “Ten years ago, you might have been able to say not all my drivers have smartphones,” Schrier said. “Today, the majority of drivers have smartphones, and they want ways to communicate more effectively with their fleet.”

Enhance mobile integration. The goal here, according to Transflo, is to help drivers complete the different touchpoints they have to complete on a daily basis. “From the time they leave their house to the time they return, there are more than 100 different unique activities that drivers need to know how to do,” Schrier said. “It’s really tough to train a driver, especially a new person to this industry, on all 100 things. This could be something as simple as how a driver purchases fuel for the first time, or how they use [weigh scales]. Those types of things are thought to have been taught to drivers in CDL schools, but frequently they weren’t, or they were just covered quickly.”

Speed up response time. When drivers are on the road and they have questions — until those questions are answered — they aren’t making money, Schrier pointed out. “They have concerns, they need help, and no one is returning their calls or responding to their messages. There are two things that we push: Make sure you’re fully integrated with your systems so that end parties get an immediate notification of a question,” he said. “The second piece of this is providing information ahead of time. If I can provide the driver information ahead of time, I can ultimately reduce the need to ever ask that question.”

Follow up, and allow feedback. “How was that orientation that you conducted? How good is your overall culture? How well are your fleet managers teaching, training, and communicating with your professional drivers,” Schrier asked. “Transflo integrates a People Element tool that allows surveys and helps fleets make sure driver retention is working. Too frequently we think we are doing everything right, and a simple survey could tell us that we are not.” 

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