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3 Ways Transportation Companies Can Buffer COVID’s Impacts

On September 24th 2020, AvatarFleet President Scott Rea was the presenter for a webinar on how to manage recruiting, compliance, and safety in the COVID-19 world. Hosted by HireRight, the webinar offered solutions to transportation companies to figure out their way in the COVID environment. Carriers all over the country are having difficulties recruiting and hiring quality drivers, staying up-to-date on compliance, and balancing on-the-road risk with the risks the virus presents.

Luckily, you’re not helpless. It’s possible to succeed even in the most unlikely of circumstances. Those who do find success focus on what they CAN control versus what they cannot.

Face The Facts

Success starts with facing the unpleasant reality of COVID-19:

  • Freight supply is out of whack and demand for busing is at rock-bottom
  • You have a new hiring competitor to deal with: unemployment
  • COVID presents new risk to mitigate for your safety department regardless of the industry

Nobody likes this reality, but ignoring it only hurts you. You have to accept the fact that this is the world we’re living in. Otherwise, you can’t do anything about your situation.

Once you’ve accepted the reality of today’s market, you have to focus on what you can do about it. You can’t change the fact that your drivers are dealing with social isolation, high exposure risk, and the ever-enticing unemployment check. You also can’t change how your customers’ business is affected by COVID.

We call this controlling what you can control. Successful and highly effective people don’t dwell on and despair in the negativity of a situation. They accept the reality and set out to do something about it. They focus on what they can do to better their situation. So, control what you can control. But what exactly can you do differently?

3 Ways to Succeed During COVID

Scott Rea’s presentation through HireRight focused on three departments affected by COVID: recruiting, compliance, and safety. So, here’s an action you can take today to buffer the impacts in each department:

  • Build your candidate database, even if you’re not hiring
  • Move on from paper DQ Files to a Compliance Tracking System
  • Move your orientation online with a Learning Management System

Building Your Candidate Database

You may not be hiring today, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking applications.

Taking applications when you’re not hiring seems counterintuitive. Isn’t your time better spent elsewhere? That’s not the case at all. It’s much easier to hire a new driver that you’ve had contact with than a new lead. That’s why you should build your candidate database now for the inevitable boom in business that’s to come.

Here are some things to keep in mind about building your candidate database:

  • Be transparent about your situation

Nothing kills a candidate quite like a lie. Be transparent that you’re accepting applications for future positions rather than a position today. However, you should still make it sound promising. If you use a mobile friendly application, let potential candidates know that a 5 minute application could set them up for the best job for them in a few months.

  • Move candidates along the pipeline

Once you take an application, move the candidate as far down the pipeline as possible. Have an interview. Qualify them for work. Do everything short of spending money on screening. That way, when a position does open up, the time-to-hire is quick and painless.

  • Keep them warm on the back burner

You want to stay in touch with potential hires. Once you qualify them for work, stay in touch. This isn’t keeping them on the hook. You don’t want to get their hopes up for a job that may not be there, but if you check in and ask how their situation is, they’re much more likely to drive for you in the future.

Manage Your DQ Files Online

Paper applications and excel spreadsheets are going the way of the dodo bird: obsolete, a thing of the past, and extinct. You can save yourself time, money, and headaches if you move your DQ File process to a compliance tracking system like A-Suite.  

An online compliance tracking system simplifies your DQ Files. It packages them up all neat and tighty in one place, reducing your risk of misplacing a file or note. It also notifies you and your drivers of an upcoming expiring record. Can you imagine a day when the driver is notified of an expiring license and sends you an updated copy without you having to pick up the phone?

If you move onto a compliance tracking system, you will:

  • Never fail an FMCSA audit
  • Never have to hunt for paperwork
  • Never have an inaccurate file in your system

Take Your Orientation Online

One challenge of COVID is the balance between driver safety and COVID safety. Orientation is a high exposure event with people you're just meeting. You need to hold training for your drivers to make sure they’re safe on the road and welcome them to your company. However, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself how effective orientation was before COVID? You had drivers drinking from a fire hose for two days. Orientation should be a process that is the first year on the job, not two days to cover the history of the world. Are you really surprised when drivers can't remember how to get paid a week later? There’s actually an easy solution: move your orientation online with a learning management system.

With a learning management system:

  • You can assign online courses to your drivers with a few clicks
  • Your new drivers will show up to your office with a foundation of how you do things
  • Your new drivers will have access to your files 

The right learning management system has outcome based driver training content that is proven to reduce claims and gives you the ability to upload content specific to your business. 

Control What You Can Control

No one is happy about this pandemic - not you, not us, and especially not your drivers. We all have a choice, though. We can spend our time wishing things were different or we can make them different. All of our suggestions in this post will improve your organization when COVID is a distant memory - which is how you should approach the changes you prioritize. No matter the circumstances, your company always has the opportunity to succeed. The pandemic will be a turning point for every company in America. Whether that’s a sharp turn towards success or failure is up to you.