How to navigate summer driver shortages

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 08:34
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Scott Chesworth, operations director at RAM Tracking

While the UK’s weather may not have quite caught up yet, the peak summer holiday season is well underway. Regular breaks from work are essential for drivers’ wellbeing, however, fleets which find themselves operating on skeleton staff may find that levels of customer service and productivity veer off track. So, what steps can fleet managers take to stop the silly season seriously damaging workforce morale and impacting profit margins?

At times when a fleet’s resources are stretched and pressure on remaining drivers mounts, it’s more important than ever that the business operates as a well-oiled machine. During the busy summer period, vehicle telematics technology can companies in the sector to optimise efficiencies by enhancing visibility of the entire fleet. For example, for fleets operating in trades such as plumbing or electrical contracting, the ability to keep a close eye on drivers’ locations introduces much-needed agility, allowing fleet managers to send out whichever vehicle is closest to a job. This saves time for drivers and customers alike, helping to keep waiting times down and ensuring that even when driver numbers are low, levels of customer service don’t suffer.

Vehicle telematics software also enables route optimisation, which helps fleets to perform jobs efficiently by taking the quickest or most direct route to a particular location. Through GPS technology, this allows drivers to be informed about congested routes in advance, helping them to reduce lengthy periods of stationery idling which could be put to good use keeping customers happy.

When the pressure is on, drivers may be more likely to exhibit unsafe driving behaviour, such as speeding. By closely monitoring location, distance covered and time, GPS technology enables fleet managers to be notified of any speeding incidents committed by drivers in their fleet, and where the behaviour took place, by immediately sending them an alert. Recording this data over time can also help to boost fleet managers’ decision-making power by revealing patterns in driver behaviour. For example, are more speeding incidents occurring at times when lots of staff members are on holiday?

Sometimes, it may not be possible to mitigate the impact of driver shortages through technology alone. Once workers have returned back from their summer breaks, it won’t be long until they begin planning ahead for next year and as such, fleet managers should start thinking about how to improve their capacity for when the holiday season rolls around again. Where margins allow, businesses should consider whether incentives such as higher pay rates – or overtime – can be provided to encourage drivers to work over peak periods. Placing reasonable restrictions on the number of drivers who are able to book annual leave at the same time, or offering bonuses to staff who exceed certain targets, may prove other effective methods of reducing pressure on the business, and keeping targets on track.

With careful planning and smart use of available technologies, fleet managers can carefully navigate the issue of driver shortages during popular holiday periods and ensure the business remains on course to achieve its commercial objectives.

Author: Scott Chesworth, operations director, RAM Tracking  

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