Private fleets seeking innovation in their driver performance and pay-incentive programs would do well to look at Atrium Windows, Inc. The company launched — with remarkable success — a unique Driver Performance Scorecard a few years ago with its team of 300 employee drivers. Atrium's former director of fleet operations, Jim Angel, CTP, now with T-Chek Systems, says: “We believed that driver performance deserves more than seat-of-the-pants guesswork. We approached the challenge from a systematic, mathematical perspective.”
“What gets measured, gets counted. We raised standards, knowing that we might lose drivers by doing so,” says Angel. “But the advantages of upgrading the overall performance expectations of the driver team were worth any potential downsides. Besides, drivers who quit because the bar was being raised only helped us in the long run. The result is a Driver Performance Scorecard that is a win-win for the company and drivers alike,” he adds.
Prior to the new program, Atrium was spending 80% of its time managing 20% of the lower-end driver performers. Yet when pay increases came around, the bump was typically given across the board to all the drivers — regardless of performance. “Unfortunately, this is exactly the wrong message to be sending. Low performers were, in effect, being told they were okay, while top performers sensed their extra efforts were not appreciated,” says Angel. “With an everyone-is-equal approach to compensation, trying to improve performance of the fleet as a group became next to impossible,” he adds.
In drawing up a new plan, Atrium identified six key goals, as well as the specific tasks drivers would have to perform to achieve them. The supervising manager then assigned a point value to each duty requirement.
The six goals — all tied to driver performance and pay — were: hours-of-service compliance; safety; customer service; job knowledge; safety-meeting attendance; and fuel economy (mpg). Each has a number of subcategories, all of which are assigned a point value and weighted by importance. For example, a preventable accident would cost a driver three times the number of points as an on-time delivery failure. Drivers get feedback on a regular basis, and more frequently if performance is lacking.
The importance of the program is that drivers are being measured and judged based on standardized formulas and metrics, rather than subjectively. The driver scorecards fairly and even-handedly determine whether drivers receive their bonus or additional pay increases, and keep track of potential problems.
Let's look at ETA, for example. If a driver averaged five late deliveries per month in the first quarter of the year and spiked to 21 in April alone, a manager would be able to notice it pretty quickly and try to figure out why. Was there a business surge? Were there production failures beyond the driver's control? Whatever the reason, fleet management now has a tracking mechanism built into the scorecard to determine and address the problem. If it's not the driver's fault, that gets recorded, protecting the driver's performance score for the year. If it is his fault, management has an intervention tool to get the matter corrected sooner rather than later.
The bottom line is that drivers know where they stand at all times, are measured and scored objectively, and are rewarded for meeting expectations.
For complete details of the scorecard, go to www.jjkeller.com/nptcinfo.
Gary Petty is president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council. The council's website is www.nptc.org. His column appears monthly in FLEET OWNER.