Question: How do you change the trucking industry?
Many people, including professional drivers, have lots of ideas and suggestions of the things they would like to see changed within the trucking industry. But actually identifying and implementing change is far more complex.
Enter Tracy Gardiner, Director of Continuous Improvement for Transport America, who believes that changing the trucking industry starts with identifying small changes that have an opportunity to make a big difference.
Finding small changes starts by focusing on the most important connection between a customer and the point of delivery: the driver and their truck.
With 25 years of experience in helping to improve the Best Buy consumer and employee experience, Gardiner looks for opportunities and flaws within the Transport America system to help the company make its drivers more successful.
For example, Transport America invested in a satellite tracking system for its trailers after thinking about how its drivers use their time. If a driver is spending time searching for a trailer at a giant warehouse distribution center, that’s time not spent moving a load or getting the driver the miles that he or she would like.
How did Gardiner know that it was an opportunity to fix in the first place?
By looking at the data.
“I’m a data person,” Gardiner says. “I’m constantly looking at our data for evidence to support a better way of doing something. I’m always asking: ‘Why, why, why?’”
Those “why” and “how” questions might include:
“How much time does it take us to service a truck and how could we reduce that time?”
“Why do we look at the number of miles a driver is driving and not look at how that driver is best utilizing the hours he has available?”
“How can we make a driver’s home time more awesome?”
“Why do drivers leave for another company and what can we do to show a driver that Transport America is the best choice?”
To make changes, Gardiner says that Transport America relies on a collaborative effort from drivers and fleet leaders to make suggestions based on their day-to-day experiences and suggestions from the company’s leadership team.
With so many suggestions to process, Gardiner relies on a 4-step process based on Franklin Covey’s Four Disciplines of Execution (1. Focus; 2. Act; 3. Engage; and 4. Accountability), which helps her to identify which suggestions offer the biggest opportunity for positive change.
“We all want to improve things and make things better,” says Gardiner. “The Four Disciplines approach helps us to focus on what we want to change, why we want to change it, and how we’re going to get it done.”
“So, if our goal at Transport America is to help our drivers become successful drivers,” she adds, “we have a process to not only identify that problem, but to make measurable changes to obtain the outcomes we desire.”
That’s why Gardiner spends so much time thinking about, and gathering data, to improve the driver experience. Because Transport America understands that drivers are the critical link to the happiness of its customers, focusing on making changes at the micro level will lead to bigger changes throughout the company, and possibly the industry.
“We’re not here just to make changes for changes sake,” Gardiner says, “respecting our drivers means respecting their time – giving them smarter work, and more control over their time on the road and at home. And the data helps me see where there is an opportunity to get better.”