Hiring quality temporary drivers can help save you money, avoid damaged goods, and deliver a positive customer experience.
Most of the year, you probably don’t need additional drivers to meet the demands of your horticultural business. But when certain months bring holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, that changes. The extra business is your chance to make a good impression—especially with new customers. If your deliveries don’t live up to expectations, it may be the last time you see some of them. That’s why you want a driver who performs well on the road, takes care of the inventory, and interacts well with your customers. We have some tips on how to help you find one.
Selecting a qualified driver
Statistics show the risks when it comes to heading out on the roads. OSHA surveys find an accident occurs every five seconds on U.S. roads, while the National Safety Council reports up to 90 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are due to unsafe acts by drivers. But having quality drivers can help reduce the risks and possibly save your business time and money—both now and in the future. You may also find improved customer relations, fewer delivery delays, and improved morale throughout your business.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting drivers—whether it’s full- or part-time:
- Require a written application: Make sure this paperwork includes a section to note prior incidents on the road.
- Prove eligibility: Potential drivers should have a current and valid driver’s license.
- Conduct a MVR check: A Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) check is a must for potential hires, allowing you to view their past driving record.
- Implement a drug testing program: This can be done with all employees as part of the hiring process.
- Check references: Use references to verify information from the application and interview, including employment dates, type of work, and vehicles driven.
- Hold annual reviews: Doing this with temporary drivers helps highlight the drivers you want back.
- Take a road test: Nothing helps you evaluate a driver better than seeing them in action and how they handle different situations.
Safety on the road
You’ve hired your drivers. Now you want to keep them—and your inventory—safe. Some of these practices are common sense, others take a bit more planning. Talk with your drivers about these safety guidelines on a regular basis:
- Monitor your speed: Speed is the leading cause of accidents. Drive the speed limit or slower.
- Plan routes ahead of time: Knowing your surroundings keeps emotions in check and reduces the need to consult maps and GPS devices while driving.
- Practice backing up: This goes for drivers and spotters, if used. Work together to become more familiar with the process.
- Eliminate distractions: This includes the use of cell phones, eating, and other activities that take attention off the road.
- Be prepared: Like Boy Scouts, drivers should adopt this motto. Expect the unexpected and know what to do if an accident occurs.
- Obey the law: This doesn’t apply just to the speed limit, but also traffic signs and regulations.
- Don’t tailgate: The general rule of thumb is a three-second following distance. This timeframe should increase if roads are slick from rain or snow.
- Secure cargo: Make sure everything in a vehicle, truck bed, or in a trailer is secured so it can’t move around or potentially fall onto the roadway.
- Wear seat belts: This goes for the driver and any additional occupants.
- Conduct training: Have drivers become familiar with the company’s vehicles before they hit the road.
- Know and set limits: Not all drivers are the same in terms of handling workload demand and traffic. Gauge each drivers’ capabilities and assign tasks accordingly.
Delivery drivers—full-time and temporary—are necessary in the horticultural industry. Having quality drivers can improve your bottom line and shouldn’t be taken lightly when you’re hiring. Remember, a little preparation, communication, and practice go a long way. Keep these tips in mind, and contact a Hortica agent if you have any further questions, or would like additional resources when it comes to selecting and keeping your drivers safe.
For more information on safety preparation for your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.
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