In a recent blog post, Ellen Voie, president & CEO of the Women in Trucking (WIT) group, asked, “Can we just get along?” The post followed Voie’s attendance at an industry event for warehouse professionals where she was asked to provide some perspective on how warehouses could be more “carrier friendly.”
“My list included a nice lounge with fresh fruit and snacks, comfortable chairs to sit in and showers and rest rooms for both men and women,” she wrote. “I suggested they include free wi-fi and make available a ‘courtesy car’ if the driver wants to leave the facility while he or she is waiting for a load.”
Her comments were met less than enthusiastically. “The people in the room looked at me as if I had lost my mind,” Voie wrote. “One man shook his head and said there was no financial incentive to accommodate drivers and in fact, their goal was to ‘turn and burn,’ (load them and get them on their way) instead of allowing drivers to stick around.”
Ten years ago, five years ago, even two years ago, this was the philosophy of many shippers and receivers. Today, that is changing, and changing quickly as shippers see high rates – both contract and spot – denting their margins. The result is a push to become a “shipper of choice” that accommodates drivers, which can lead to lower rates in some cases.
WIT sees its members facing the same problems as all drivers. In 2015, Dock411 co-founder Dan Serewicz also saw the same issues. A lack of facilities and visibility into locations make driver’s jobs tougher. Dock411 says that 60% of truckers visit a new location each day and 70% have lost time because of unfamiliarity with a location. A full 91% would like to know key information about a facility before they arrive.
Through its app, Dock411 has been trying to improve drivers’ lives one location at a time. Now, Dock411 and WIT have joined forces to bring even a higher level of transparency to facility amenities for drivers and add a little nudge to those that consistently receive complaints.
“We met Ellen and told her what we were doing at Dock411 and she said she wanted to do the same thing,” Serewicz tells FreightWaves. “We [now] provide reports to Ellen each month.”
Users of the Dock411 app can answer a quick 3-question survey on locations they visit and that information is collected and reported on. The 3 questions are:
- Were you treated like a professional?
- Were restroom facilities satisfactory?
- Were the personnel helpful?
It’s a simple step, but one that Dock411 was utilizing for its own internal purposes, and now with the help of the collaboration with WIT, is using that information to improve drivers’ lives on the road.
“Ellen and I work together to call the facilities,” Serewicz explains. “It’s a little different when a truck driver calls them [to complain] and when the president of Women in Trucking calls.
“Chances are if there is one driver telling us about this [problem], there are probably 5, 6 or 10 other drivers that have not told us about it,” he adds.
The visibility into facility experiences helps Dock411 and WIT see patterns develop, which leads to the phone calls.
“If there are overwhelming good reviews about a facility, we will call them as well because they deserve to know that,” Serewicz points out.
The two organizations are working on a possible award to go along with the program. The result, hopefully, is a subtle nudge to shippers to make their locations more accommodating for drivers.