Why It Pays to Invest in Training
Is your training program a priority?
Running a fleet comes with plenty of costs, and certain items on your ledger can seem like unnecessary luxuries. Anything that doesn’t go directly to fuel, equipment, repairs or payroll can’t be that imperative to your daily operations, can it?
As it turns out, there’s one significant investment you should be making now in order to enjoy financial returns for years to come: driver training. Committing to a good training program can help you maintain a safer, more efficient fleet that’s carried by ambitious and devoted drivers – and that can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
Training expense or training investment: A matter of perspective
When you break down what goes into a comprehensive training program, the costs can add up quickly. But while expenses like trainer salaries, training material, and the fuel used for in-cab demonstrations might be higher than you had imagined, don’t forget to look at the other side of the spreadsheet when it comes time to tally returns on this investment.
Training can improve your revenue stream in a number of ways. Consider how even basic lessons on proper vehicle inspection can often result in lower maintenance costs, as drivers are more likely to catch tire pressure problems and broken accessories before they become big issues. Better training for your staff can save you untold worker compensation costs, and knowledge gained in the classroom generally translates to safer operation with fewer collisions on the road.
When training is part of a long-term strategy rather than short-term discipline, recruiting and retention costs can drop, too. In-house education and mentoring can boost morale and self-worth, helping employees embrace the company’s larger goals and see themselves as an integral, respected part of the whole. Your investment in training can help you build up a fleet of loyal, experienced drivers.
Improvement is more economical than replacement
Recruitment costs may seem relatively small, but replacing a driver can be a sizable expense. Entry and exit administration, lost revenue due to idle equipment, and other costs related to safety, insurance or legal issues can all contribute to dollars lost. Some experts put the average cost of a single new hire around $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the operation, but online cost calculators indicate that it could be much higher. Many would argue this money could be better spent on a training program that enhances the skills of your existing drivers to improve their efficiency, ability and job satisfaction.
Training is important for driver retention, but it’s also good preparation, and it can offer a distinct industry advantage. After all, companies with a skilled, well-trained group of drivers are in a better position to act on emerging opportunities in the industry. Fleets without an up-to-date knowledge base will struggle to stay in the loop when it comes to new digital tools, and employees may have more difficulty adapting to new processes introduced by transportation authorities.
Pay attention to the details
Training is good, but targeted training is better. To maximize your return, you can focus your training on the specific needs of individual employees by using the information from carrier profiles and driver abstracts to uncover the nature of infractions. Electronic control module or telematics system data can help identify problematic driving behaviours, and general feedback from colleagues and customers will shed light on drivers with good attitudes and a penchant for safety. Tracking this sort of information can be as easy as tracking costs, and can help guide your investment.
A training program is only as effective as the instructor who is delivering the program. Devote some time and attention to hiring the right training professionals for your company. Significant experience behind the wheel and a good track record on the road are excellent assets, but they don’t necessarily make a good instructor: the most effective trainers in the transportation industry will also have strong communication skills and a positive, upbeat attitude that can inspire trainees during lessons and practical sessions.
Finally, commit to re-evaluating your training programs and material every so often. The industry will continue to change, and as it does, you’ll want to keep up with a current curriculum. There’s always more to learn, more room to improve and new ways to grow, which makes a good case for ongoing training.
Look to the future
It can be difficult to rationalize spending on training when you don’t have a big surplus, but investments in training are an important part of a healthy business strategy. Carefully considering training initiatives and aligning them with your financial objectives will help clarify just how your training costs can help your bottom line. A key benefit to training programs are their long-term results – you can look forward to a well-tuned fleet that will pay dividends for years to come.