Giles Margerison, Sales Director UK & Ireland at TomTom Telematics, looks at the cost and efficiency benefits of improving driving performance standards.
Improved driving performance standards has long been an under-appreciated method for unlocking cost savings, improving safety levels and boosting efficiency for field service companies. There is an abiding perception that controlling such a wildly differing variable is a monumental task – one that requires vast resource and has no guarantee of success. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
One problem is that old habits really do die hard. Getting an employee to change the way they drive requires a significant adjustment in behaviour. Furthermore, there is a wide range of behaviours associated with each identifiable driving characteristic, meaning many companies simply do not know where to start when it comes to analysing data, if there is any.
Each of these challenges has a solution – and the benefits are potentially huge.
Involve your drivers
Change does not need to scare employees, even when it involves the monitoring of driving standards. When implementing a performance programme, it is important to involve drivers in discussions from the outset, including union representation if appropriate. This allows them to ask questions, raise concerns and start a two-way dialogue that helps to demystify the process.Creating advocates and champions also helps. Instilling a sense of pride and responsibility in selected members of staff puts them in a position where they can spread the word and highlight the benefits of driving more efficiently. These might range from improved safety to cost savings that can help to safeguard jobs in the long term.
Change does not need to scare employees, even when it involves the monitoring of driving standards
Creating a specific company ‘mission statement’ and building this into employee inductions can help to drive the message home, stressing the importance of aligning company values with driving for work purposes
The policy could also outline what consequences might be faced as a result of breaches of expected standards, such as speeding or reckless driving. Any disciplinary process should be clearly outlined and communicated, while giving staff the right to reply. Equally, if there is a programme for incentivising and rewarding drivers, this should be ingrained in policy too.
Set clear objectives
When it comes to driver behaviour, its significance differs depending on the business. This means setting clear objectives which are dependent on organisational goals and choosing which aspect your company wants to improve upon.
Perhaps boosting customer service levels is the main aim. Data such as vehicle off road (VOR) time is incredibly helpful here, as is the amount of orders or jobs lost during these periods. Identify the most appropriate data sets and set a baseline for the minimum expected standards. Any deviation from that baseline could then be highlighted, allowing management to target specific issues through training and consultation.
The amount of data available is greater than ever but collecting, analysing and reporting on it does not have to be an overly arduous task. Telematics systems are now more sophisticated than ever, creating individual profiles for drivers based on their performance in a number of key areas related to safe and efficient driving.
Management can drill down into specific areas of performance to gain greater insight into specific problems. Data is available on a range of behaviours, including speeding, fuel consumption, harsh steering and braking, idling, gear changes and constant speed.Drivers can get advice in real-time through their driver terminal to inform them where they are able to improve. Devices even provide predictive advice that unlocks even greater fuel savings. Drivers are told when to take their foot off the accelerator on the approach to roundabouts or junctions, allowing them to drive in a smoother, more fuel-efficient manner.
Devices even provide predictive advice that unlocks even greater fuel savings.
Culture of collaboration
Real employee engagement is needed to experience long-term change in driver behaviour. Rather than a ‘them and us’ philosophy, putting drivers at the heart of the programme can help them feel empowered and more receptive to change.
When it comes to getting your workforce on board, incentives such as extra holidays, cash or qualifications for personal development work to your benefit. However, simple recognition and acknowledgement of their efforts can be equally effective. League tables that compare the driving performance of individual drivers are also useful for sparking a sense of healthy competition and giving staff goals to work towards.
There is no one-size fits-all approach to improving driver behaviour and the wealth of data now available to field service companies provides a number of ways for them to tackle the issue, depending on their objectives.
However, by following a set of established guidelines – creating a culture of excellence, providing strong leadership, choosing data to suit objectives and working with employees to achieve improvements – best practice can be achieved.