When did you last listen to your drivers?

Does this seem a daft question? Not asking your drivers a few key questions and then listening to the replies could be costing your business in more ways than one.

When we ask the question ‘When did you last listen to your drivers?’ we don’t mean ask them about the football last night and go, ‘Umm…’ and ‘Yes, really?’ ….. and ‘4 – 3 on Penalties …?’

When - as a Director, Transport Manager or Supervisor - did you sit down, with a brew, and ask your drivers some of the really important questions and then carefully listen to the answers they gave?

Get to hear about the clients

Make them a brew, sit them down and ask them about their day, the clients and the challenges. After all, they usually see more of the clients than you do.

Does what the client told you they want actually reflect what happens when the driver turns up? This could mean that the purchasing department asked you to do one thing but the guys at the sharp end think your rubbish because they need something else. You turn up at 11:00 and they can’t accept goods till 13:00 or need it by 10:00?

One case that we saw recently was a client that had purchase department instructions to deliver product on a shrink-wrapped pallet for offloading by Forklift. The delivery site did not have a Forklift and the job had to be hand balled across a reasonably busy road and took over an hour to complete. Two phone calls and a requote for handballing soon had a forklift on site and the job is now being completed on time.  The cost to find out? About 50 pence on a cuppa. The issues resolved? An unhappy and sweaty driver, along with 4 other unhappy clients, due to late deliveries, are now happy again.

What to ask the drivers

The questions you should be asking them should be along the lines of:

  • Which are the best clients / contracts we have that you deliver to?
  • Why?
  • Which are the most challenging clients / contracts we have that you deliver too?
  • Why?
  • What would make the challenging clients as good as the best clients?
  • How can I help that to happen?
  • Are these issues causing you to get Tachograph infringements?
  • What else can the company do to improve clients and your experience?
  • Would it benefit us all if I came out for a day on the road with you and you show me the problems - and the great stuff too?

What to do next? Eat an Elephant?

Well, that really depends on you, but experience suggests that the sooner you start to take some action to help, the quicker the message will get around the other drivers. If you don’t take prompt action, then the message that you don’t care will also get around and cause even more damage.

Not everything can be resolved straight away, but like the answer to the question ‘How do you eat an elephant’, the answer to these issues is still the same: ‘One mouthful at a time’.

Break the issues down. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. What can you do at your end to make things better / easier now? Which clients can you get hold of and help reduce some of the issues with right now? Which of these is an opportunity to negotiate a new deal? Which jobs may you be better off without?

Explain what is going on

Sometimes issues can be resolved easily, sometimes not, but keep the driver informed of progress, so that they don’t think you have simply ignored them.

Ask the driver for a progress report

Let the driver know who you have spoken to and what has been agreed. Ask them if they are noticing any difference or improvements.

Thank the driver

Thank them for their help in bringing the issue to your attention and show them that their contribution is appreciated. Let others know they have helped.

If you are not sure of the questions to ask or how to solve some of the issues that come up feel free to call us today, A S Miles Consulting on 01455 389053, or email andy@asmilesconsulting.com and we will help you eat that elephant.


by Paul Evanson

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