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How to Coach Mobile Workers for Improved Driving and Service Performance

by Stacey Papp

Driver Coaching
GPS Fleet Tracking with Driver ID lets you identify driver behavior in addition to vehicle data

Correcting poor driver habits is a critical skill for small businesses that employ mobile workers. If your workers are out on the road travelling from job to job, their behavior on the road and on the job has a strong impact on your company's reputation and profitability. But to coach behavior, you need to monitor behavior. But GPS fleet tracking systems that only monitor vehicles get you only part way there. After all, you're trying to coach drivers, not trucks and vans. 

Fleet managers can benefit by giving drivers adequate coaching to improve their performance over time. But understanding what areas to coach on can make the difference between success and failure. And when failure means a stalled fleet, decreased profits or a wreck caused by an unsafe driver, it’s easy to see why success is so vital. Focusing on a driver’s behaviors rather than his or her traits is the key to having a chance at real success in coaching

What makes a successful driver? Efficient? Hard-working? Safe? Honest? Reliable? All are desirable traits, but how can they be quantified and improved? And what are some of the trademarks of less-effective performers? Unfocused? Disorganized? Maybe, but how do you build improvement while focusing on those traits? 

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A coaching session that attempts to address a less positive trait like those listed above runs the risk of creating the opposite effect by alienating the employee with what may be perceived as criticism of his or her personality. Imagine if someone approached you and said, “Your performance is suffering because you are unfocused and disorganized.” It’s hard to imagine taking it as anything but pure criticism.

But if you focus on behaviors related to the traits and work to improve those behaviors, you can get the most out of your drivers. For instance, you might have a driver who takes longer than normal to make his daily stops and falls behind on his responsibilities. Instead of working with the driver on what traits might be causing him to under-perform, look at his day-to-day behavior for areas to improve. What routes is he taking? Is he making any personal stops during the day? What is getting in the way of him driving his route?

Driver-centric monitoring

But how do you get that information? Once drivers leave the office, they are out of sight and on their own, often subject only to the honor system. If your fleet employs telematics on the vehicles, that’s a step in the right direction. But with multiple drivers using multiple vehicles, the math required to find out what each driver does specifically can get pretty complicated. The secret lies in driver centricity.

Driver centricity is an extension of telematics technology that allows the tracking of individual drivers’ movements within the fleet. That way, instead of sifting through a pile of data to figure out what each driver is doing while out on the road, a manager can access a dashboard or report to get data that can be turned into coachable moments.

Is a driver going through gas at an alarming rate? Go to the dashboard. There’s a good chance a lead foot is the problem, which creates a danger risk, too. Noticing a lead foot early will allow you to coach the driver before the behavior turns into a real problem, like wasting fuel and unnecessary vehicle wear and tear.

Perhaps more importantly, noticing bad driving habits lets you curb the behavior before a driver gets into a situation that is dangerous for him, other drivers and the company as a whole. Driver-centric software has helped fleet managers catch chronic speeders, drivers cornering at race-care speeds and speed demons dodging in and out of traffic. Your fleet represents your company, and a vehicle that puts other drivers – potential customers! – in danger sends a bad message in addition to the toll an accident would take. 

With the data about specific behavior in his or her hands, a fleet manager can approach drivers with examples of real behavior and have a chance at real improvement. The result will be a safer, more efficient fleet that reflects a positive image in the community – the best kind of marketing. Everyone benefits!

Focus on behavior

The important thing to remember is that – unlike traits that tend to be very personal – behaviors are learned and can be "unlearned" through proper coaching. By focusing on specific behaviors, you stay in a problem-solving mode that avoids putting drivers on the defensive and keeps them focused on the improvements that will benefit them and the fleet. Coaching in this manner will result in a number of benefits for your business:

  • A safer, more responsible fleet of drivers that represents your brand better in the community.
  • Fewer accidents.
  • Improved driver performance.
  • Cost savings on fuel and vehicle maintenance.
  • Happier drivers with real, achievable goals for improvement.
  • More satisfied customers as a natural result of efficient fleet performance.
  • Improved company bottom line thanks to cost savings and customer satisfaction. 

Learn more about how using Fleetmatics’ REVEAL driver-centric data helps to reduce accidents, eliminate unnecessary costs and enhance your safety policies.

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