Conventional wisdom holds that the key to retaining qualified truck drivers is higher wages. But at least one trucker says it's not that simple. Schneider National, the nation's largest truckload carrier, believes that when it comes to driver retention, it's as much about strong driver/dispatcher relationships as it is about the money.
In an effort to strengthen those relationships, Schneider National's Bulk Carriers division has been working with trucking software supplier TMW Systems to create specialized driver management software. Called DriverZone, the software is designed to collect and organize information in ways that make it easier for managers to distribute load assignments fairly and follow through on promises regarding pay, time off or mileage, for example.
Unveiled in October, the new software gives drivers' managers an easy-to-read, up-tothe-minute calendar-based view of work schedules and history for each driver, available log hours, current location and scheduled events such as CDL renewal dates and vacation time. DriverZone also allows managers and dispatchers to document communications with drivers on non-dispatch topics, such as requests for time off and pay inquiries.
Part of DriverZone's attraction lies in its ability to alert managers to potential problems, according to the software's developers. "The visual clarity and intuitiveness of DriverZone enables our team leaders to see small issues before they become larger problems," says Mike Hinz, director of operations for Schneider National Bulk Carriers. For example, DriverZone lets a dispatcher see when a load assigned to a driver may not be a good fit. It also alerts managers when it appears a load will likely cause a driver a long delay, so that the manager can consult with both the driver and the customer service agents to determine the best course of action. It even helps ensure an equitable distribution of load assignments, adds Tom Weisz, chairman of TMW Systems.
DriverZone was put to the test earlier this year, when Schneider National needed to shift operations from its facility in Reserve, La., to Houston in the days following Hurricane Katrina. The software enabled managers and planners in Houston to quickly view the status of all Louisiana-based drivers, including their current and pending load assignments and remaining hours of service, and begin routing these drivers from the alternate location.
TMW will offer the DriverZone software as part of its TMWSuite enterprise management suite.