Driver Selection: Choosing Your Company’s Future

Posted on November 1, 2006 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

Most limousine operators frequently identify financial issues, company location, customers and vehicles as the keys to their success. These are all legitimate factors. But is chauffeur selection considered as one of the primary avenues to a secure future?

Chauffeur selection is more than hiring a driver. You are giving that individual the benefit of your hard-earned reputation and empowering him or her to build or ruin that reputation. You are also giving the chauffeur the keys to an expensive vehicle and a blank check for $1 million in insurance coverage. So, if you are truly concerned about the future of your company, you had better manage that concern by hiring and retaining the right chauffeur.

Hire the Right Driver for the Job The proof of effective hiring shows in two places: your company’s accident rate and the level of customer satisfaction. Both are vital to your success. The negatives related to hiring the wrong driver quickly add up. Increased recruiting costs, increased claims costs due to poor driving skills and stretching your administrative resources too thin all cost you real dollars that pummel your bottom line. We all recognize that a distracted driver is more likely to make driving mistakes and cause accidents, but how often do you think about distracted managers who make mistakes because they are too busy to focus on the hiring process?

Simply put, if you hire the wrong chauffeur, it may cost you more than if you let a car sit in your parking lot. If you lose a customer because of a driver’s lateness, inability to navigate, treat customers courteously or handle the car professionally, you have lost future revenue and still have to pay the chauffeur. There are not many successful businesses that retain employees who literally drive their customers away! So, don’t do it. Get tough and hire only the right driver for your operation.

Use a Good Hiring Process The selection process is very important. Remember, even the best driver trainers might have a hard time changing an applicant’s existing driving habits. So, don’t try! Make sure you have written hiring procedures and follow them for everyone who applies, even on a frantic Friday when you have a busy weekend ahead and not enough drivers. Always use a written application, conduct a road test, review the applicant’s motor vehicle record, check with past employers and confirm past driving experiences.

There are several selection tools that may not be required in your state but should be used anyway. These include drug and alcohol testing, criminal background checks and a post-employment offer medical examination (always by a physician you have selected). Combining these steps with your experience and knowledge will usually result in a good hire. What’s left is training that individual to operate your vehicle in the manner that has made (and will continue to make) your business successful.

Avoid Expensive Mistakes and Increased Claims Hiring the wrong driver is very expensive. Insurance costs reflect your company’s accident/claims experience, as well the current insurance market conditions. Recently, insurance rates have risen due to market conditions, but those conditions reflect what is happening in the limousine industry. The same concept applies to your company. If you have had increased or more expensive claims in the past few years it will be reflected in your premium or perhaps your ability to obtain insurance. Remember, the “wrong” chauffeur who has an accident while operating your vehicle becomes the cornerstone of the plaintiff attorney’s case against your company.

Many companies rely on part-time drivers and this may be a very good strategy for your company. Don’t forget, however, to make sure you understand the risks and manage them. Part-time drivers need extra training and review to ensure that they are comfortable driving your vehicles with your operating area, customer service needs and traffic conditions. We all know that distracted drivers are more likely to have accidents, and part-time drivers usually take longer to adjust to occasional work than regular drivers. And, worse yet, part-time drivers may be fatigued because they work other jobs.

Remember, you take responsibility for everything that a driver (full- or part-time) has done in the last few days, so think carefully and add up the cost or savings of using part-time drivers. Every time an employee who usually works at a desk job is “recruited” to jump into a car to fill in for an absent or non-existent driver, he or she runs the risk of being tired, distracted and unfamiliar with the situation.

Make no mistake about it. You will be held responsible if an attorney successfully makes a case that a driver should never have been hired because of past driving incidents, drug and/or alcohol abuse or poor driving skills. Don’t wait until someone else tells you that you hired the wrong chauffeur. Figure it our during the evaluation process and save yourself some trouble — and money.

Implement a Driver Training Program Once you find and hire the right chauffeur, providing and documenting driver training is critical to controlling future claims and insurance costs. In addition to driver training, chauffeurs must be trained to manage an accident scene. What a chauffeur says and does at the scene can considerably raise or lower claims costs. Company policy on pre-trip inspections and documentation will also make a difference to a jury deciding if you are at fault or could have done something to prevent an accident.

Clearly, who you hire affects your future. Good hiring decisions, ongoing training, well-documented policies and management attention to detail helps to reduce accidents, control the cost of claims and maintain your insurability. Hiring the right chauffeur will support your company’s reputation and image. That is something you can always take to the bank.

Negative Factors to Claims Involving Driver Hiring

• The driver never should have been hired • Office and shop workers are “doubling” and driving • Part-time or new drivers making careless mistakes

6 Ways That Hiring a Bad Driver Affects You

  • Accidents are more likely to occur
  • Your bad driver is the plaintiff’s case
  • Attorneys will attack your procedures
  • Cost of claims will rise
  • Your insurability will be affected
  • Your company image/business will suffer

6 Essentials in the Selection Process

  • Application and interview
  • Background check
  • Motor vehicle records check
  • Previous job references
  • Obtain drug and alcohol test results
  • Medical and health review
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