by Johnny Dollar

Drivers are a key part of the operation of any company that utilizes truck assets to provide service or deliver its product to its customers. They are a key productivity factor impacting the operating expense of the fleet. The more efficient the driver, the greater the potential income per running mile the vehicle can generate. Having a driver management program can go a long way toward ensuring driver productivity and more efficient utilization of the vehicle.

Here’s a quick example of a driver being productive, and another of a driver being unproductive (and the latter example, unfortunately, had become an accepted practice by the company’s management).

GOOD: Furniture and Appliance Delivery Driver. The driver was delivering new appliances and some new furniture to my home. He called the previous day to confirm delivery time. He called the next day 30 minutes prior to delivery to ensure that I was home to accept delivery. Arriving on time, he brought in the new appliances, hooked them up, and ensured that all was operational and acceptable. Then he brought in the furniture, uncrated it, and set it up. All this was done in 30 minutes. While he was working, I asked how many deliveries he made in an average day. His response: typically 12 – 15 deliveries. Now, that seemed to me to be a productive use of the driver and his truck by his company. Not much slack in an eight-hour work day. That generates good ROI on the driver and truck, not to mention customer satisfaction with the scheduling and delivery. NICE.

BAD: Food Service Delivery Driver. A few years, back I was working on a project to help a food service delivery company find ways to improve their cash flow. One of their biggest challenges was looking for ways to improve ROI on the private fleet. Interviews with the drivers were revealing. Routes were “static” but could be adjusted at the last minute by the “route planner” (routing was done daily by one of the warehouse workers who “balanced the loads” based on minimum sales delivery threshold for the individual truck.) At no time did upper management consider “driver productivity” as a key factor in increasing the ROI per truck. One driver’s story sticks out in my mind as a vivid example of non-productivity that went unsuspected by upper management. This driver’s first stop each day on his route was to deliver to a small Mom-and-Pop food store. The owners were so grateful for his on-time deliveries that they served him breakfast every day.

⦁    QUESTION:  How many more deliveries could this driver have made if he did not take time out for breakfast?

⦁    QUESTION:  Why was upper management unaware of this driver's daily breakfast stop?

⦁    QUESTION:  How much improvement in operating cash flow could come from the eight drivers in this private fleet if upper management had a driver productivity program in place to measure and manage these key assets?

Bottom line:  Driver productivity can have a major financial impact on service, customer satisfaction, and fleet operating expense — all of which ultimately affect company operating cash flow, the lifeblood of any organization. If you are in charge of a private fleet or responsible for your company’s driver productivity, do yourself a favor and measure what you manage. And ensure that you have individual driver and vehicle productivity benchmarks against which you measure the actual performance to ensure that you are getting the maximum bang for your buck. You’ll be glad you did — and your company will be glad you did as well.

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