Photo courtesy of  WikiCommons/Veronica538

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons/Veronica538

For successful fleet operators, it’s no secret: engaged drivers means successful business. The way your drivers operate your vehicles affects every aspect of your business, from how much fuel is used to the number of accidents that occur (or don’t). But many fleets are missing the opportunity to leverage drivers’ cooperation to improve the safety and efficiency of their fleet operation.

All too often we’ve seen how drivers are expected to follow the rules, then reprimanded or penalized for breaking them – without any further intervention. There are several problems with this approach, one being that poorly performing drivers often don’t receive the proper feedback or coaching to tell them why they are underperforming, reducing the chance of any long-term success.

Having a fleet management system in place can help fleets monitor driver behavior, but should only be seen as one piece of the puzzle. Achieving tangible, long-term results requires more. It requires buy-in from drivers and for them to understand and support the fleet’s goals.

Most fleets will see resistance from pockets of drivers who don’t like the idea of being under a watchful eye. But in my experience, the majority of drivers want to do well and therefore respond favorably to engagement – an approach that can be strengthened by adding a reward component. Be it monetary, physical or public recognition, incentivizing drivers has been proven to build morale and motivate drivers to keep on improving.

Lead with a Carrot, Instead of a Stick

Some fleets are starting to pair their fleet management software with driver-facing smartphone apps that allow drivers to track their own progress and – for some healthy competition – compare stats with other drivers.

These apps offer:

  • A performance dashboard, with a high-level snapshot of the driver’s scores, ranking and related events.
  • Scorecards and ranking, typically featuring Red-Amber-Green (RAG) reports, including daily and weekly score analyses and trends over time. Drivers can also see how they rank compared to site and organization averages in aspects such as safety, efficiency and fuel consumption.
  • Driving events, such as speeding, harsh braking or crashes. Some apps even allow drivers to view events on a map.
  • Supervisor reporting and feedback.

We recently worked with a well-known tour and bus charter company that decided to introduce a driver engagement and incentive program. First, TV screens were placed in the drivers’ lounge, which showed everything from the location of each motor coach to harsh braking or excessive idling incidents.

Create an Incentive Program

Next, an incentive program was created. The aim of this program was to reward drivers for good behavior on the road and saving fuel. Giving drivers the ability to view their behavior and other data on TV screens made it is easy for them to monitor their own behavior.

On a monthly basis, managers provided driver reports identifying top performers and these individuals were then paid out cash bonuses. This helped motivate others who were not top scorers to improve their behavior in order to reap the benefits.

At the center of this driver engagement program was an app provided to both drivers and fleet managers, enabling them to see scores, rankings and relevant events on a performance dashboard.

The live review, incentive program, and user-friendly app helped drivers to experience first-hand how the data they generate helps the company improve performance and profitability while keeping them safe. Driver engagement and incentives programs are a great way for drivers to take ownership of the part they play in not only the success of the company but also their own success.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Giving drivers tools to improve can strengthen your fleet’s performance and company’s bottom line by reducing fuel consumption, crashes, insurance premiums and more.

About the Author

Pete Allen is the chief client officer for MiX Telematics.