On June 9th, AvatarFleet President Scott Rea was featured on a webinar hosted by the Ohio Trucking Association on the topic How To Manage Recruiting, Compliance, and Training in the COVID-19 World. If you were unable to attend, here's a quick recap.
We are undoubtedly in the middle of a storm - one where we do not know when the end will come. Parallels can be drawn to James Stockdale's experience as a prisoner during the Vietnam War: he was determined to make his imprisonment the defining moment of his life, though at the same time was not overly confident that he would ever be released. It is precisely this reason that he was able to survive: he didn't build up false hopes repeatedly only to have them dashed time and time again.
In that way, we need to realize that getting out of the COVID-19 crisis will be a slog. It will be a long, slow transition, not a singular day when a switch flips and we're right back to March 1st when everybody is shaking hands, hugging, or hanging out at the local pub.
So what do we do in the meantime?
Focus On What You Can Control
There are a few things we can be doing right now, even if business has slowed. The first thing is digitize your records and DQ files. Given that the FMCSA has increased off-site (virtual) audits by over 300 percent, you need to have your records available to be uploaded right away, now more than ever. Remote work has boomed during COVID-19, and it very well may be the wave of the future. Further, going completely digital helps your recruiting and orientation efforts by saving time entering and re-entering information and passing around printed forms - time that can be used to train and get drivers up to speed with your company culture and customer base.
Build Your Driver Community and Database
You likely now have time to focus your attention inward on your employees. Successful companies are running wellness and health programs for drivers and employees alike, or sponsoring volunteer programs. These somewhat small efforts show your whole team that you as a company care about them as individuals, as well as the community where you live.
Second, you should continue to accept applications. Maybe you are not able to hire right now, but when you are, having a list of qualified drivers can be a huge benefit to getting first dibs on your top choices.
Adjust Orientation and Ongoing Training
Orientations for drivers, and all employees, are usually like being on the receiving end of a fire hose of information. Now is a good opportunity to make training and onboarding sessions interactive; it wasn’t interactive before, so don’t miss this opportunity to improve it! Have your trainer, HR person, or onboarding guru record themselves and make a video series available for drivers to access at any time. Better yet, make the modules about payroll and health care available for the spouses since they usually are involved or make those decisions with the family.
Training sessions can be much easier for drivers if they can be completed from anywhere instead of having to pull drivers off the road. If business is going to be slow for a long while, take advantage by investing in your drivers education and training. Many of our clients took the opportunity to certify instructors and drivers in LLLC, our defensive driving system. The challenge was always finding time with a non-stop operations schedule - take advantage if you have a break in the action.
There's Opportunity in Chaos
Use this time to improve your company. Your engine was working overtime the last few years. Take this time to work on it and provide your company with much needed maintenance. The brutal facts are that we don't know exactly when, but we will emerge from this; make sure your company is stronger on the other side of it.