Subcontractors make up a huge portion of the trucking industry. While businesses strive to create the best possible conditions for employees, it’s easy to unintentionally leave them by the wayside as they’re always on the move, working across many different organisations, and juggling various procedures and policies.
But there are steps businesses can take to make a subbie’s life easier, safer and more efficient.
Clear and concise safety policies
In a world of tight deadlines, complying with various safety standards and legislation is easier said than done for a subbie. Having an effective Safety Management System (SMS) in place is essential for any business, but it also gives subcontractors a handy guide to what they need to do to uphold safety. At the start of a new contract, this guide can be handed out and management can go through everything the business expects of them. Many businesses that use an SMS pair it with telematics, as the technology is an effective tool in measuring the effectiveness of the document. This could be by setting up alerts for speeding, using electronic work diaries to help manage fatigue or employing real-time engine diagnostics to ensure vehicles are always up-to-code.
In any working relationship, communication is key. But this needs to go both ways to be successful. Open communication provides visibility into what all parties are up to and what they need. If there’s a change in plans or an unexpected delay, both driver and management need to be contactable at a moment’s notice. While our smartphones become an extension of our hands, in remote areas they quickly lose signal along with the fact that drivers aren’t able to answer them whilst on the road. A more effective solution is a telematics system installed in your vehicles, which lets you locate drivers, even when they are out of network. When linked with an in-cabin device, it allows for two-way messaging that doesn’t impact workflow. If either party need to get in touch or relay information, such as their location or what jobs they’ve completed so far, it can be done in just a few taps on the in-vehicle screen.
Strong focus on training
Micro-managing doesn’t go over well with subcontractors. Many are trucking veterans and have seen and done it all. They won’t welcome someone stepping in and telling them what to do every step of the way. To build a strong and long-lasting partnership with subbies, the focus should instead be on training, ideally using real data on driver behaviour and trends. Examples of good or problematic driving can be replayed to newly contracted drivers to demonstrate actions that they may not have realised was a risk. Drivers can also track and measure their own activity, to improve over time.
Businesses and subbies don’t need to be at odds with each other. With the right tools you can see eye-to-eye and get the job done.