What’s the key to success for a fleet? Safe, reliable and productive drivers. Your drivers’ performance touches every part of the company: public perception, operational efficiency and especially revenue and profit.
A few fleets still just hire and fire hoping to luck into good drivers, but more executives today are investing in training to raise standards across the fleet. They do it because they can show measurable return on investment (ROI) from driver training.
They believe that training is leadership. A leader’s job is to get a person to do the job in the right way at the right time for the right reasons. Training is one tool a leader can use to get this done.
Still, it’s hard to change the status quo, and harder still to change the mind of an entrenched executive. It begs the question heard often: “how do I show the value of training to my executive team?” You cannot assume executives will intuitively see the value of training nor attribute the company’s success to your training efforts, so let’s create a battle plan.
Connect driver training with success
Consider strategy: it’s made up of ends, ways and means. Training is essential to defining the way in which we achieve our tactical and strategic goals.
Why do we train drivers? Because driver performance has a direct impact on strategic goals and tactical objectives, including:
- Regulatory compliance
- Fuel economy
- Customer service
Only when you connect the dots between driver training and your company’s goals will you get the attention of executives. These individuals are held accountable for company performance and perk up when they hear words like “profitability” or “productivity.”
If you’re not getting the support you need, use the three-step plan below to speak to the importance of driver training to your executive team.
Three steps to highlight to your executives the importance of driver training
Step one: the persuasive power of facts and figures
Every company has finite resources and knows they can’t do everything. When faced with competing requirements, decision-makers will normally choose the option with the highest expected ROI.
Buying a vehicle with better miles per gallon (MPG) is an easy decision because lower fuel consumption equals higher profits. Decision-makers can draw a direct connection between that capital investment and their organizational goals.
By comparison, the value of driver training may seem less clear. Executives understand driver training can prevent incidents, but how many? They don’t like to hear “some” or “a lot.”
When ROI is unclear, the easiest answer is “no.” Put yourself in the mindset of each decision-maker and craft your message to highlight “what’s in it for them.” Let’s use a company’s chief operating officer (COO) as an example. These efficiency-focused executives want to invest in programs that support their goals and corporate responsibilities, which typically include:
- Increase revenue per vehicle day
- Improve driver retention
- Match available capacity to the demand
- Improve compliance without increasing cost
- Minimize non-revenue generating “empty” miles
- Manage risk
Using the list above, you can then craft a value statement that speaks to the COO’s interests and goals. For example: Incidents take drivers, vehicles and capital offline. Safety training and proactive initiatives are proven to keep drivers on the road. Safe drivers also get better MPG.
Use company data or industry statistics to reinforce your statement. If you can’t get hard data, go talk to your colleagues and ask for reasonable assumptions or estimates. For the COO, you might include:
- Billed ratios
- Driver turnover due to safety issues
- Average hours a vehicle is offline due to crashes
- Average days a driver is offline due to crashes
- Cost of back-office effort to expedite loads after incidents
One message doesn’t fit all. If you want company stakeholders to support driver training initiatives, you must tailor your pitch to the specific goals, responsibilities and values of each member of the leadership team.
Step two: strategic one-on-one conversations
We’ve established why one message doesn’t fit all when seeking support from different stakeholders. Another common misstep is presenting to the executive team collectively. When all the decision-makers are together, you’ll be outnumbered and one strong personality can quickly voice opposition to your proposal that may sway the leadership team.
- Build support by briefing each stakeholder individually
- Remember that their time is valuable
- Be crisp and to the point when communicating the value of your proposal, keeping in mind their unique responsibilities and goals
- Use their language
- At the end of your conversation, ask for their support or insight into what you can do to ensure their support
This approach takes time and patience but pays off in the end. When you’ve spoken to each decision-maker separately and set the pre-conditions for support, you’re ready to seal the deal by presenting to the entire executive team.
Step three: the moral imperative
By drawing a clear relationship between safe drivers and company goals, you’ll level the playing field between driver safety training and other competing programs.
Money talks! Create a spreadsheet showing how much your fleet spends on preventive programs in one column, and reactive expenses in another column. Reactive expenses may include:
- Claims settlement
- Post-crash litigation
- Increased insurance premiums
- Workers comp claims
- Driver turnover costs
- Average cost of new hires
This will be eye-opening for your executive team. Be sure to point out how savings can be tracked year over year. Now you’re speaking Executiv-ese.
The executive team meeting is also an ideal time to present the moral cost of inaction. Talk about the number of injuries prevented, lives saved and expensive claims avoided. Use the moral imperative to re-frame capital expenditure requests and tip executive opinions to favor an investment in safety.
What to do once you have that executive buy-in
Driver training is the most cost-effective way to implement driver safety training, making it a worthwhile investment when viewed through any lens. Once you gain that executive buy-in, you’ll need to answer some questions and figure out what driver training solution is right for you. Learn what those questions and answers are by downloading our guide today.