Whether it’s one person on a bicycle delivering food door-to-door or a fleet of trucks moving huge payloads across a country, much of modern business would not be possible without a workforce on wheels.
So much of the evolution of business through the last decade or so has been about speeding up processes. From next-day, and even same-day delivery, to “just in time” freight movement, riders and drivers are almost literally the lifeblood of businesses. The moment they can’t move, the whole thing grinds to a halt.
As well as being essential, delivery drivers are also among the most unsung of people in the business pyramid. They’re on the road from morning until night, and sometimes beyond; they don’t have much time to stop and chat; they see a lot of the world without really seeing it.
It can be quite thankless work. So if you are going to put people on the road in your business, it is of vital importance that you give them due consideration.
Looking after them will pay off for you when it comes down to it, as we’ll see from the tips below.
1. Avoid pushing your drivers too hard
No company would put a fleet of vehicles on the road driven by people who were drunk. However, given that studies have shown the impact of driving tired to be comparable to driving while inebriated, it can’t be said that there isn’t a risk involved in pushing drivers to complete an over-ambitious delivery schedule.
It’s worth bearing this in mind when deciding how your delivery rota will work. Different jurisdictions have different rules, but there are many areas where it is illegal for a service driver to be on public roads for more than ten hours in a shift.
Only you can know what you can practically offer to your customers in terms of delivery times, but if you have a fleet on the road, the priority should be to make sure they are supported with a reasonable workload.
That doesn’t mean putting a trucker cap on them to wake them up when they’re drowsy; the body and brain need sleep, and they don’t react well if they don’t get it in a timely fashion.
A healthy and well-rested delivery fleet is better for business than an overworked team desperately trying to stay awake.
2. Be sure that your drivers are covered
As well as ensuring that your drivers can be on the road healthily and safely, it is also important to protect them in a legal sense. That can mean that the fleet vehicles – if they are owned by the company – are well-maintained and 100% roadworthy at all times.
It can also mean speaking to your drivers when it comes to choosing a car insurance policy that covers them when they’re on the road. The right kind of insurance is important, and it differs from state to state, but you can find out what you need to from local sources.
Make a point of taking care of the insurance applications for each driver you hire. It will become second nature before too long, and you’ll know that you’re covered for all eventualities.
The most important thing about hiring and deploying drivers is that you should make it as easy as possible for them to do their job unrestricted and unencumbered by secondary concerns.
The clearer a driver’s mind is, the better they will do their job, so it makes sense to put them in the seat without something to distract them.
You’ll be rewarded with faster delivery times and more volume delivered, as your drivers will be ready to go from the first minute of their shift to the last.
3. Make sure you have the right vehicles
If you’ve ever bought a living-room chair from a store and tried to get it home in your car, you’ll be familiar with the problems caused by using the wrong vehicle for a job.
Depending on what your drivers are delivering, they’re going to need a vehicle that is up to the challenge. Food delivery companies can quite easily put their drivers in a car because a pizza and a few cans of soda aren’t going to place too much weight on the axles of a sedan.
The heavier the load gets, the more unavoidable it becomes that you will need specialized delivery vehicles. This matters for a number of reasons.
For one thing, an overloaded vehicle will experience less responsive handling. To compensate for this, drivers will need to go slower and will likely find their attention divided between getting to their destinations on time and keeping the vehicle on the road.
Additionally, a lack of space can lead to a lack of visibility, which is another problem a driver won’t need. Give due consideration to what your drivers are going to be ferrying from place to place, and choose your fleet vehicles based on that.
It’s a balancing act – smaller vehicles can go places that trucks can’t, and can be quicker, but if they can’t handle the load it’s no help.
4. Consider comfort in the vehicle itself
Finally, but not least importantly, if you drive for a living you need to be comfortable behind the wheel of a car. If you’ve done a long-haul drive yourself, you know how taxing it can be on the body.
If you’re doing the same kind of drive on a regular basis, that impact is going to be all the greater – so it is important to ensure that the cockpit is as comfortable as it can be for a driver.
Most importantly, the seats need to offer the best lumbar support possible; too long in the seat with an ill-aligned spine will lead to back problems some way down the line.
There also needs to be room for drivers to stretch their legs out and comfortably operate the pedals – so the larger the space in the front, the better.
Knowing how to keep your drivers happy and healthy will pay off for you as a business. Using the above tips, you can be confident that your fleet takes to the road in the best shape possible.