Would you like a little R & R? Those are two of the most beloved words to any soldier. R & R in their world stands for Rest and Relaxation or Rest and Recuperation (depending on who you ask). In other words, it the civilian world’s equivalent of vacation time.
As a fleet safety and compliance manager, you certainly need some of this and surely deserve it too! But, my R & R is a little different.
The key to fleet safety and compliance management success is that your processes are both Regular and Recurring.
Regular meaning that your processes needs to be common or the same for all CVOs. Regular processes can easily be followed by others, like your boss or an assistant….or your kind and supportive spouse who really did want to help you that Saturday morning.
Recurring meaning that your process can be easily repeated so that you can scale and apply them to your entire organization, regardless of fleet size.
Ensure that the same process is followed every time AND ensure that the same process is followed for every CVO that is hired.
Establishing processes in this way creates both consistency among your files, help to ensure compliance with FMCSR 391.51 and makes them much easier to maintain.
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If you stop and think about the monumental tasks that trucking company owners and fleet safety managers face on a daily basis, you could work yourself into a panic attack pretty quickly! But, if you set up effective systems to help along the way, you can have a shot at some actual R & R…maybe.
Perhaps one of the grossest business idioms that should have died right after it was created was “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”
Admittedly, I’m not very cultured. I haven’t traveled internationally much and lead a somewhat sheltered existence, but I’ve yet to meet one person who has actually eaten an elephant…..just saying.
But, the reason that the saying refuses to die is that it’s so darn appropriate! The simple idea is that we can more easily accomplish huge tasks by simply breaking them down into smaller pieces.
If you try to do this with the monumental tasks that you face regarding fleet safety and compliance management, than those scary and complex jobs become much more manageable.
Break down your large tasks into smaller tasks and then implement my R & R model!
Let’s test my R & R model on the driver qualification file management process.
(Oh, before we begin, remember that this is just one of the methods that I use with my consulting clients and it may not work for you. That’s okay! Hopefully, I can at least encourage you to think about this some more.)
Effective DQF management begins with a good system in place to hire and onboard new commercial vehicle operators (CVOs). Develop or steal an effective checklist that helps you ensure that you have all of the required forms completed and in order before a CVO even begins driving for your company.
Set up a tracking system with a task or project management tool that helps you with this. I love Wunderlist. This is an amazing tool/app that you can use to set up to do lists, project management lists and other general stuff that you need to keep track of. Apart from being free, your lists are cloud based so you can see them across multiple devices (which really comes in handy when you wake up in the middle of the night because you forgot if you actually ordered received that CVOs MVR).
To ensure that the system that you have created remains Regular (and to comply with FMCSR §391.25) use a good scheduling tool like Google Calendar to remind you about critical tasks that need to be handled on a recurring basis, such as ordering a CVO’s MVR and Annual Driving Record Statement.
I wouldn’t use the same calendar that you use for keeping track of meetings and your kid’s soccer games, as things can get missed or derailed quickly.
Set up a separate calendar completely and refer back to it often.
Also, use the built in reminder features to help create your daily to-do Wunderlist.
Some TMS already have these features built into them, but let’s face it. Excel and Outlook serve as the TMS for most of us. This model is meant to be fast, cheap and easy. It’s effective and can help save what little sanity you have left.
Pick a major process each week or month and try to focus on engineering or reengineering that system to be more Regular and Recurring. (remember the elephant!!)
This method can easily be applied to drug and alcohol testing and compliance, vehicle maintenance, DQF management, log book auditing, IFTA reporting, CDL compliance management and many other areas!
Taking some time and applying some serious thought to establishing good processes that follow my R and R model may just help you enjoy the real R & R sooner than you think!