Ensure Your Employees Are Your Greatest Assets; Not Your Biggest Liability

Posted on July 29, 2009

It's 1 a.m. in the morning and you receive a phone call that a customer is asking for alternate transportation because she suspects one of your drivers has been drinking. As the owner of a reputable luxury vehicle company committed to offering safe, reliable and comfortable transportation, your worst nightmare has come true.

You know that how you drive your customers, drives your business. Whether your customers are executives, wedding parties or teenagers on their way to the prom, they expect to arrive at their destinations safely and without worry. Negligent drivers can put your customers and your business at risk.

The good news is there are several easy to implement and affordable precautions that you can take to help ensure that your fleet is run by the best trained professionals. Additionally, by taking these simple steps you will help reduce your own liability should one of your drivers act in a negligent way.  Here is how to get started:

Screen Drivers: Good drivers demonstrate the same behaviors on and off the job. Require driver applicants to supply their motor vehicle records. If they have a history of drinking and driving; speeding or other risky behaviors, they are not the right choice to represent your company on the road.

For example, http://www.4safedrivers.com/ is a web site where both owners and applicants can order Motor Vehicle Records. State Department of Motor Vehicles also provides driver records. Other screening techniques, include investigating past employment; confirming the applicant's work history and discussing any gaps in the employment history. And, finally, conducting a road test of applicants will enable you to assess their driving skills first hand

Supply Employee Manuals: By setting rules and regulations, you are making it clear up front what you expect from your drivers. Manuals should address as many elements of the relationship as possible, and can be expanded over time to include newly emerging issues or things you've missed. Some examples of policies that should be stated include your code of conduct; expectations of a drug and alcohol-free workplace; dress code; tardiness and absenteeism; sick-leave; treatment of customers and cell phone usage. Every employees should sign, agreeing that they have read and understood the manual.

Routinely Check Driving Records: It is not good enough to just check your drivers' records before they start working. Regular and routine record checks enable you to set a precedent that your fleet drivers will be held accountable for their actions at all times.

Weekly Driver Meetings: Regular meetings will help emphasize your expectations, rules of conduct, new issues that come up, and the behavior you must get out of each and every driver. And, by frequently repeating messages, you will have a better chance that your drivers will clearly understand and adhere to your expectations. Regular communication with employees about how they represent the company can lead to helpful feedback. During these meetings, hypothetical situations should be discussed to determine how your drivers might respond. Moreover, it is your opportunity to reinforce procedures to be followed at all times, such as locking the left rear door so clients exit on the right and away from traffic. It's also a good time to remind drivers of other motor vehicle operating standards considered acceptable.

Pretrip Inspections: Consistent contact with your drivers is critical to keeping your fleet safe. And setting an expectation that vehicles and drivers will be screened before each trip will help you ensure that both the drivers and vehicles are operating up to your standards before every trip. By requiring drivers to complete documentation and meet with a dispatch manager before every trip, creates one more opportunity in which your philosophy and rules can be individually reinforced. During the checks, dispatchers should observe driver behavior, evaluate their appearance, and ask them questions in order to evaluate their alertness and ability to work.

Stand By Your Rules: There is no place for questionable drivers in your business. You have too much to lose. Your customers depend upon you to place only the most professional, well-trained drivers behind the wheel of your luxury vehicle. Don't put your business at risk.

If you are not sure how to get started, take a deep breath we can assist you.

Source: Mark Canfield, vice president of  Luxury Car Niche Markets, The Hanover Insurance Group. The insurer has a program tailored just for businesses sold through local professional independent agents. The Hanover's Loss Control Consulting Services for the luxury vehicle industry provides industry-specific risk management advice, best practices, and examples of useful tools, such as employee manuals that will quickly and efficiently get you started.

Information: www.hanover.com

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