Examining problems is crucial for your fleet’s growth. Here’s how to do it.
Let’s get real for a second.
If you don’t examine your failures, nothing will change.
If you are honest with yourselves, you know there are management mistakes within your company or areas that could be managed better.
While this hasn’t led to DOT violations and fines, you know it is just a matter of time.
Luckily, it is human nature to want to be better, to grow, learn, and educate ourselves so we can improve.
That is why you are reading this article right now, but you just don’t know where to start.
Well, I am here to answer your questions.
Here are five steps to find issues in your fleet before the DOT does.
1. Take time to reflect
Our culture moves at a very fast pace, quick to move on and chase the next big thing.
Within the trucking industry, as a trucking professional, you might be an owner-operator hunting for the next best load and squeezing out as much drive time as possible.
Or you might be a safety manager trying to balance hiring, driver files, safety scores, driver problems, drug testing, ELD data, and more.
When was the last time you paused and allowed yourself to just think – without the anxiety and stress of the job?
If you are reading this right now, take a deep breath and start reflecting on what is working and not working.
Why are certain processes broken? Is there a better way? Why was your last project such a success? These are just a few questions that you can start asking yourself.
For example, when was the last time you thought about the company’s drug testing program, policies, and document retention requirements?
Did you know that one of the most common mistakes carriers make is not having important drug test history and medical card on file?
Each new medical exam certificate must be placed into the DQ file and kept there for at least three years, to show that the driver was medically qualified to drive at all times.
Similarly, important drug testing history and alcohol test results must be saved in the DQ File for at least one year.
Are you keeping up with your Drug Testing Program? Are you DOT Compliant?
2. Be honest with yourself
No matter what situation you are facing in life right now, whether it be to better yourself by talking with a counselor or improving your company by talking to a mentor or consultant, the first step is always honesty.
As you reflect on what is and is not working with your job duties or across your entire fleet, write down:
- the parts of the job you hate doing
- the parts of the job you know you suck at doing
- scheduled tasks you keep missing
- priorities that you keep pushing off to the last minute
- processes that are broken, or
- tasks that you would give to someone else if you could
While this may hurt your pride a bit, I bet it felt good to write these things down and get them off your chest.
One of the most common tasks carriers hate is analyzing ELD telematic data. Isn’t it good enough to just meet the requirements by having an ELD? You might think so, but insurance providers disagree.
Insurance providers love this data, but only if you are proactively reviewing and improving your fleet with the data.
The best-practice telematics data management plan will measure the data over time to show trends and measure results. This is as simple as a Driver Scorecard for your fleet.
3. Ask questions
If you have taken the time to reflect and are being honest with your list of pain points, the next step is to analyze why.
This is where you must ask the right questions.
- What is hard about each item on your list?
- Why are you failing here?
- What would make your life easier?
- How should I solve the problem?
- Do I need to ask for help?
- What tools are available to me?
- What tools do I have but know are not being used well?
Be sure to take the time to think about each scenario, each task, and each issue. Continue being honest with yourself on why something is broken.
The more you dig, continue asking more questions and don’t forget to write them down.
Let’s use the ELD telematic data example again. Why is the tool so under-utilized?
Fleets are often spread out in regional or national operations with high driver turnover rates, so it can be hard for managers or drivers to be up to speed on all ELD logs and data coming in.
Since ELDs are a relatively new requirement, the initial goal was to just meet the requirement and forget about it.
But a fleet’s back-office management have been given an opportunity to better improve their vehicles and driver’s safety by looking at where drivers are making common mistakes and proactively training them before they make a bigger mistake.
4. Research, Review, and Learn
As you dive down the rabbit hole, you can start researching answers to your questions or issues.
When it comes to fleet safety management, we recently wrote a series of article about the importance of DOT audits.
- What are CSA scores?
- Understand Three Important Trucking Tools For Hiring and Roadside Inspections
- Understanding the CSA Intervention Process and the Importance of Warning Letters
- Why Carriers and Drivers Need Help When Challenging Violations With The DataQ Process
- How To Prepare For A Comprehensive FMCSA Safety Audit
- IFTA Audits – What to expect and how to prepare
- Carriers Must Go Digital to Meet Future Off-Site Audit Expectations
Why is research so important? Because the regulations can get complicated.
For example, one of our most popular articles is about when it is okay to have multiple DOT numbers for a company.
Maybe you are looking to acquire or merge with another company. Maybe your fleet’s safety history is horrible, and you want to start over under a new DOT number. Are you making a big mistake?
Be sure to use our article search tool on the top of each blog post to dive deeper into your research.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
In your research, you may have found that accuracy, organization, and diligence are crucial to keeping your safety program in order and ready for an audit at a moment’s notice.
If you don’t have a close mentor to help you, be sure to reach out to our DOT experts with a simple phone call, email, or you can even have a live chat with us online.
If you are looking to hire someone to help you manage your tasks, hire CNS.
Our safety management programs are perfect for combining multiple services and focuses on Proactive Safety Management (PSM), a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.
Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:
- ELD management
- Driver Qualification File Management
- New driver on-boarding
- Driver safety meetings
- CSA score management
- Policies and handbooks
- Vehicle maintenance
- and more