What’s It Like to be Audited by FMCSA?

smc 1Recently, a California-based fleet manager documented his personal experience with a random-selection compliance review through a series of four blog articles.

His candid insights help paint a picture of what the process could be like for a fleet that has never gone through a compliance review.

Here are links to his four articles:

Part 1: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/04/10/JIM-LUFF-The-FEDs-Are-Coming.aspx
Part 2: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/04/17/JIM-LUFF-Feds-Occupy-My-Biz-House.aspx
Part 3: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/04/24/JIM-LUFF-DOT-Audit-Gets-Down-N-Dirty.aspx
Part 4: http://blogs.lctmag.com/lctblog/archive/2013/05/01/JIM-LUFF-D.O.T.-Audit-Drives-Me-To-Drink.aspx

E-DriverFile is our program that helps fleets consolidate their records, streamline their processes and deliver helpful management reporting.  The system is specifically designed to help larger fleets with multiple terminals and scattered locations.  The program can be tailored to meet your needs, company culture and even existing forms and processes.  We specialize in alternative fleets (i.e. regulated, but not over-the-road trucking operations in the typical TL marketplace — utilities, telecom, coach operations, inter-modal, et.al.)

We also offer a “lite” version for non-regulated fleets who need to manage their driver safety policies in a uniform manner across multiple locations, decentralized management or other complex arrangements.

Copy of Copy of EDF LOGO (final)

Webinar: Out of Time? Out of Compliance? NOT out of Options!

To support our clients, USI and AIG, SafetyFirst led a webinar targeting smaller fleet operators (those with under 500 power units).

cropped-truck-traffic.jpgRegulated fleets all have to comply with the same set of ever-changing regulations; however, larger fleets can dedicate specialist resources to handling the paperwork and smaller fleets may be limited to a proverbial crew of three — “Me, Myself and I”.  Further, this team of “three” may have many other job duties beyond compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, too.

The focus of the webinar included the following learning points:

  • Identify the principal areas of driver safety regulation
  • Identify educational resources for managers
  • Identify how to use Federal resources to monitor their compliance status
  • Determine a mechanism to set a rational focus on key tactics.

While it’s beyond the scope of this blog article to cover all the points of the webinar, we’ll try to offer some of the highlights.

First, we made it a priority to share as many links to free, federal resources as possible — the goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes and injuries; therefore, they are stepping up to provide strategies and tactics that motor carriers can employ to that end result.  It all starts with the main web site — http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov

Motor Carriers Guide to ImprovingAnother resource was “A Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Highway Safety” which doesn’t serve as a replacement for the FMSCRs, but helps provide a “plain English” version of what motor carriers should be working on to be safe and compliant.  This can be downloaded from http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/eta/index.htm

We also encouraged the participants to regularly visit http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov to get the latest tips and fact sheets on the CSA program.

The CSA program changes how FMCSA conducts audits and gives them flexibility to target more carriers for specific issues using different means of intervention (i.e. such as sending an inquiry on a highlighted issue by mail).  It doesn’t add to the regulations – it just addresses how FMCSA measures safety performance, evaluates the need to intervene, and then responds to potential problems.

CSA ToolkitsWe walked through the Bookend BASICs concept (covered on this blog site and in articles published by NATMI, et.al.) and how fleets can prioritize their response to keeping BASIC scores as low as possible.

The Safety Management Cycle, as a risk management model, was used in a practical exercise to demonstrate it’s utility to motor carriers.

We also highlighted the newest fact sheet releases, the motor carrier tool kit, and the driver tool kit which are found at the CSA site.

Summary

We dealt with a half-dozen specific questions from the audience (submitted through the web-ex environment) and there was some thoughtful discussion to wrap up the session.  We reminded the participants of the following ideas:

  • Compliance is about doing the “boring/tedious” stuff consistently
  • There are a lot of resources available to help you comply that cost nothing 
  • The FMCSA keeps data on your fleet to decide if they should intervene – you should monitor your scores at their site
  • If the FMCSA sends you a letter, call them and talk to them IMMEDIATELY. Tell them that Safety & Compliance are serious subjects and you want to improve your score.
  • Use the online resources to craft your response to them, and KEEP IT SIMPLE – no need to be fancy or commit to things you can’t afford or complete.
  • They will want to see that you did what you said you would. Not more or less. You need to put the plan into effect!

SafetyFirst is a fleet safety solutions provider, working through insurance carriers and directly with fleet clients throughout North America.

A copy of the slideshow will be distributed to participants in the webinar experience, and will be posted at our client-only (*log in required) web site.

High Tech Fraud Detection (CDLs/Motorists/Company Car Drivers)

According to the Star Ledger, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and the Division of Criminal Justice have been working on implementing new ways to detect fake drivers licenses.   Technologies such as facial recognition have been used to spot multiple licenses granted to people with different names but the same face!

Here are some of the details released this week:

“One trucker was able to get three commercial driver’s licenses under three names, despite his license being suspended 64 times and his six DUI convictions.  Another motorist was able to get a license to drive a bus by using the name of a dead man. Still another was a registered sex offender who got a license to drive tanker trucks under an alias despite his five DUI convictions, and another was an accused sex offender who was able to get a license to drive a truck despite his three DUI convictions.”

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 The State’s Attorney General noted that 9/11 terrorists had fake licenses issued from other states and that “…detecting people with false licenses, the facial recognition could potentially uncover identity theft, financial fraud or terrorism, in addition to getting unsafe drivers off the road.”  He went on to say that “…For someone who’s put his children on the school buses in New Jersey for a long time, when you hear about folks who have multiple DUI convictions, sex offenders who are able to get licenses to operate those school buses — and, quite frankly, licenses to continue to drive on our roads — it certainly is a stark reminder that this the kind of thing that we need to be putting assets in

All of this reminds us that MVR profiling remains a critical safety tool for many fleets around the country — whether they operate sales cars or tractor trailers (or anything in between).

How do you know if your driver holds multiple licenses or multiple identities?

It’s not something the average employer would be equipped to diagnose, but it is a way for a chronic “bad driver” to get around screening tools — only to be discovered much later by a plaintiff’s attorney following a tragic fatality or other horrendous crash.

The NJ Attorney General summed it up this way; “If you have somebody who has six DUI convictions, they have to be driving under the influence a lot of the time. And for them to be able to continue to get driver’s licenses to operate vehicles by trying to scam the system, it creates a real safety issue for all of us.

More coverage is available HERE.

In a related article published by Landline Magazine, the following details were added:

  • “New Jersey’s license investigation examined all 19 million identities listed in its photo record database to find duplicative photos and identities. The state found 600,000 matches attributed to administrative errors and customer fraud, and suspended 1,800 licenses until customers could re-verify their identities.   
  • “The investigation has also uncovered 20 to 40 potential fraudulent unemployment cases, 23 fraud cases investigated by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, three potential Medicaid fraud cases, eight fraudulent U.S. passports, five criminal arrests by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and four criminal fraud suspects identified by the Social Security Administration in connection with over $200,000 in suspected fraud.   
  • “New Jersey now performs a nightly scrub of all new photos submitted at its 39 agencies.”

SafetyFirst works with many larger employers (with 500 or more drivers) to set up pre-hire screening and post hire re-qualification systems including profiling for crash risk, integrated KPI dashboards and data transfers with Human Resource applications.  Having pulled more than 40,000 MVRs and being on track to triple that number during 2013, we continue to add employers to our “E-DriverFile” and “My Driver’s Data” platforms.  If you have a need to better manage your driver records — from sales fleets to DOT regulated fleets, give us a call!

Recruiting Strategies

Effective recruiting is all about information management. If you’re serious about improving your recruiting results, you need to start by consistently tracking information about your efforts, tactics, sources, and candidates. If you haven’t tracked your efforts and the results of those efforts you’ll have a hard time getting approval for any changes in strategy or increases in budgets.

How have you been tracking the results of your recruiting efforts?  We have some ideas you may want to consider:

  • At a minimum, maintain a written record of where or how each applicant first heard about the job opening (regardless of whether you hire them). If most applicants heard about the job through a certain source, expand your use of that source.
  • Preferably, you’ll develop a database (or spreadsheet) to track this information over the period of months or years in order to verify the return on investment in your advertising dollars. This can help justify expanding your budget and experimenting with more expensive options like radio or other “big budget” approaches. (Of course, you could also start using our “E-Driver File” program which has a complete recruiting module built in!)
  • Periodically review the applications of those you hired versus those who did not qualify. What were some of the reasons that you passed on certain driver candidates and followed through on others? It may not seem important, but over time you’ll discover specifics that:
    • enable you to save a lot of time when weeding out candidates that you’d never consider, AND 
    • improve your advertising to slow the flow of unqualified candidates.

Are you tracking past candidates that were not qualified?

  • Tracking candidates that were unqualified in the past may provide a rich resource of candidates that may become qualified within a year or two. This is a long term approach that assumes some candidates may be ready to join your firm at a later date if their MVR records improve, or their age or total years of driving experience will later match your minimum safety criteria. 
  • It takes work to keep in touch with these candidates (they may move around and change their contact information, etc.), but it may help you out when you’re in a pinch. Postcards, emails, simple newsletters about your company’s continued success and growth may entice the candidates to keep in touch with you.

Are you networking with other recruiting, HR, or safety managers outside of your company? 

  • Casual contact with other recruiters, if professionally handled, may turn up rejected candidates that don’t meet their standards, but could work for your team with a little re-training, coaching and probation status, etc.
  • While drivers may trade from one company to another, so do other employees. Hiring a recruiter from another company may bring a fresh approach to recruiting that can jump start your efforts (be aware that some recruiters may have employment contracts that do not permit them to bring their contact list along, and it could be considered stealing company property if they did).

While recruiting traditionally consists of sourcing candidates AND qualification of potential employees and the “on boarding” process, we’ll focus our attention on sourcing strategies.

Sourcing, or attracting potential candidates to your company, typically includes:

  1. Advertising by way of multiple media, such as the Internet, general newspapers, job ad newspapers, professional publications, window advertisements, job centers, and campus graduate recruitment programs; and
  2. Recruiting research, which is the proactive identification of driver candidates who may not respond to job postings and other recruitment advertising methods mentioned above. This research results in a list of prospects who can then be contacted to: solicit their interest in a position at your company; obtain a resume; and get them into the qualification process.

 What advertising have you done in the past and what are you doing now?

  • General Newspaper Ads – How are these worded?
    • Besides telling job seekers that you’d like to consider them for employment, your ad should “sell” the job and the company. Give the job seeker a valuable reason to investigate your company. Identify three things that your current drivers see as strong positives for working at your firm – use these in your advertising. 
    • How do you describe the position, the compensation, and the benefits? Is it easy to understand, or more “code-speak” that blends into all the other job ads on that page?
  • Job listing newspapers – Where are these papers placed for distribution? They may not attract CDL drivers if they are placed in grocery stores, but they may work if they are placed in truck stops. Work with the publication sales team to assure that your ad is being placed in the right community of job seekers whose qualifications and interests will be a match for your opening. 
  • Journal ads – driver magazines, trucking magazines and other print media that target drivers or may be read by drivers could be a useful place to announce your intention to hire the best candidates for your team. Specialty magazines that appeal to sportsmen, outdoor activities, and hobbies may be an unusual, but productive, place for your ad if the activities covered in the magazine relate to the activities of an ideal candidate. For example, a firm looking to hire security guards might advertise in a gun magazine to attract candidates that might not otherwise be looking for a job because they are happy where they are right now. 
  • Radio spots – are you working with the radio sales team to tailor your message and make it sound really appealing? It may cost more to hire professional talent to make your spot, but skimping makes the ad ineffective and makes your company seem weak. Picking the right stations and time slots makes a big difference. Ask lots of questions before you sign a contract and try to negotiate for rebates on future advertising based on results. 
  • Job fairs – the organizers of job fairs want you to find candidates so you’ll come back again. They are your ally so use their knowledge to get prepared in advance of a fair. Talk to the organizers about your company’s needs – if they are professionals, they will help you design a short list of questions to cut through unqualified candidates, and the organizer should be willing and able to help steer candidates to your table.
    • Advance advertising about the fair should mention that CDL candidates are sought, and you should negotiate with the organizer to see if there are any rebates, refunds or discounts off of future fairs if you’re unable to get quality candidates during the event. 
    • If you do attend a job fair, take a driver with you so that he or she can relate what a typical day or week is like, how the company operates, etc. Having a current driver (or driver trainer) attend adds credibility and helps candidates form a best possible impression of your firm. 
  • Online recruiting services (specialized for drivers, or generic services like “monster”) – test drive the system as a job seeker before spending any money to register as an employer. If the system is difficult to use or steers candidates towards companies with large advertising banners, your company will be unlikely to draw many candidates from the site. Talk among current drivers to see what sites they like (and why they like each site that they mention).

Take time to call and talk to the people who run the recruiting service. Ask for their advice and ask about success rates for other companies. They are supposed to be experts at what they do – if they are hesitant to share information with you before signing up, you’ll have to wonder whether they’ll be much help after you send them a check.

  • Does your own web site have an application form or a way to solicit driver candidates? Adding a “careers” page is simple and including an online application or “follow up form” can be far less expensive than other advertising methods. It may not draw as many candidates, but not  adding these features simply limit potential candidates from reaching you. 
  • Novel approaches are limited to your creativity (and budget). Maybe you can afford to host a “toll free joke of the day hotline” that starts with a recruiting message for your company. Maybe you could set up a recruiting table at a local truck stop once a month and give out decent quality pens with your recruiting hotline inscribed on the pen. Perhaps you can distribute custom labeled candy bars that encourage drivers to call your recruiting hotline. There’s no limit to the ways you can call attention to your company (but there may be a limit to your budget so plan these “events” carefully and track results!)

Are you actively reaching out to drivers and applicants to get additional names of drivers?

Recruiting research involves actively reaching out to get potential candidate names (it is sometime mockingly called “head hunting”).

It takes a little more work but is essentially free and may get you better job candidates than advertising. After all, the most qualified driver isn’t typically in a job search mode – they’re happy where they are or figure that changing jobs isn’t worth the hassle of re-qualifying.

If you want great candidates, you’re going to have to go chase them down, tackle them and drag them to your company!

Here are some ideas of ways to identify candidates:

  • Start by asking each applicant to list 3-5 names (and contact information) of other drivers that they know and respect as “good drivers”. If they supply only one name and a way to get in touch with that driver, it’s one additional lead for your job opening. Call or email that driver immediately and follow up with them until they say yes or no to sending you a completed application or resume.
  • Ask your current drivers if they have buddies that they’d recommend coming to work for your company. You won’t know how many will provide names until you ask them several times. 
  • If you feel the need to offer a “recruiting bonus” or “reward” to drivers who give you contact names, split the bonus into two parts – one paid after a face to face interview is completed and the second half after the applicant has been qualified and accepted a job. Pay for performance, not promises – after all, your current driver is doing their friend a favor to “get them into” your company and shouldn’t need a reward from you for making an introduction unless it leads to a placement. 
  • Calling ex-employees who voluntarily departed (ie. not terminated for cause) may turn up prospects for re-employment. The follow up shows you miss them and wish they had stayed at your firm. If they are not happy where they ended up, they may come back. This process can take weeks, months and even years, but it’s worth it since your firm will always need “solid” drivers that they can count on. (and these discussions may help you with your “retention” issues at the same time!!!)

As pointed out earlier, the recruiting effort will succeed if you track your information very well. ANY name you receive should be tracked since their qualifications, age, and experience will continue to change over time. Someone that was not a good candidate three years ago may be perfect for you at this time.

Other proactive recruiting research approaches include: 

  • Contingency Recruiters – in a pinch you may consider hiring an outside consultant to get you the talent you need. They only get paid if they deliver a qualified candidate who actually takes the job, but the fee is often a percentage of the first year’s wages (which may be a lot to gamble if the driver leaves within the first six months on the job).
  • Retained Recruiter Agencies – an often expensive option where you place an agency on retainer to actively recruit long-tenured drivers away from their current positions. Typically these drivers are happy with their current job but may move if there is sufficient cause to switch (i.e. better routes, better equipment, etc.)

These tips and ideas represent only a fraction of what can be done.  We don’t claim to have “all the answers”, but because our client network is so proactive they share ideas back and forth.  You could benefit from being a part of that network, or simply work with your current vendors who merely send you another invoice each year.

NEXT – We’ll list some comments, tips and suggestions we’ve already received from our network of more than 3,800 clients.  Add your positive comments, too.

LATER – We’ll discuss Retention Strategies and how they’re related to success in recruiting.

If you’re serious about helping your drivers stay crash-free, ticket-free, and productive, you should check out our programs and services — had to say it, we need to recruit new clients, too