Is training a waste of time? Not according to Rob Beiter, CEO at Beiter's Inc. and happy ITI customer. Beiter believes that when you factor in the cost of preventable incidents and infractions, the cost of training pales in comparison. Naturally, we agree!
We recently interviewed Beiter about his company's training program, how they're using online training and the challenges of running a retail delivery service. A lightly edited version of our discussion follows.
What made you want to change over to Sentix and PRO-TREAD? What were you hoping to get out of it?
We have never had a formal driver training program before. I found the product matched our medium duty trucks and we were able to target specific lessons to our type of driving and equipment. Much of the training available on the market is geared toward tractor-trailer and over the road trucking. Focusing on our type of equipment helps drivers relate lessons to their specific scenarios, eliminating the need to sit through unrelated topics.
Actual ITI course image
How has the first year with the program gone? What do you wish you'd done differently? What do you wish you'd done more of?
The first year was a bit up and down due to personnel changes and business demands. The “GO GO GO” nature of our retail delivery service often made it difficult to find time for training. If I could go back and do it again, I probably would have collaborated more with the managers to get buy in from them in a larger way, so they would make more of an effort to schedule training.
How has the administration of training been over the first year? Has it been easier or harder than you thought?
The administration through the software interface is good. Like any new tool, there's a bit of learning curve, but I don't find it overwhelming. Again, due to some administrative personnel changes, we lagged behind in our training and had to get new people involved in the implementation and scheduling of our driver training.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from employees taking the training?
The feedback has been positive. We are using the product as in-house training and not allowing drivers to do it on their own due to DOL concerns. We have talked about allowing drivers to do the training at home on their own, but for logistical reasons, it's easier to have them only do training onsite, at least for now. The drivers generally like the format. It's easy to follow and specific to our medium duty vehicles. The lessons are precise and to the point.
Actual ITI course image
What kind of metrics does the safety committee look at? How do you choose the courses to assign?
I personally have reviewed all lessons to make sure they match our vehicle type and business policies. Our warehouse/delivery manager is now able to view lessons and take the mastery-based tests to make sure the training content meets our needs and doesn't contradict our policy. Our safety committee is advised of the ongoing progress with the training programs.
What advice would you give to a similar company considering an online training program?
Get those who will be tasked with implementing the training program involved at the beginning. Schedule, schedule, schedule! If you're doing an onsite program, make sure to schedule the employees to actually complete the training. Otherwise, getting the delivery out will always take first priority over a driver sitting in an office looking at a screen.
It's important to get buy in from the employees. If you can, come up with rewards or acknowledgements for complete training. We haven't done this quite yet, but we have discussed some type of incentive for taking training.
If you can come up with way to properly log time and compensate hourly employees, task the drivers with doing taking the training on their own at home. Salaried employees or contractors can do this without a problem. Follow up to make sure the training is getting done. Sentix has helped us a lot here. If you have an HR manager or office staff that can keep track or be the champion of record keeping, task them with follow up and even tracking rewards for completion.
Last but not least, let your insurance carrier know what you're doing! Show them your progress, and ask for help from them in premium discounts for training, support for the safety committee, or even little rewards to incentivize drivers. Drivers love a good travel mug, even if it has the insurance company logo on it!
Sentix Pro LMS makes it easy to assign, schedule and report on training.
Where have you seen the most improvements from PRO-TREAD and Sentix?
Driver awareness. The fact that we are doing something to push the safety message home helps keep it at the top of the list for management and drivers. They understand that they are responsible for their work space (the truck and delivery). Training provides good repetition for veteran drivers and makes it easier to onboard new drivers. Post incident training also gives us a method to follow up with a driver that can be documented easily. It provides proof that we're being proactive for incident prevention.
As the busy holiday season approaches, what steps are you taking now to help drivers avoid incidents and stay safe in winter driving conditions?
We're providing a seasonal lesson plan based on winter weather, slips, trips and falls, and refreshers on PRO-D.E.F.E.N.S.E. training. All this is in conjunction with our loss prevention rep from the insurance carrier and our safety committee activities.
Many companies (ours included) have the mentality that if a truck is not moving, if an employee is not pushing, pulling, shifting, shuffling merchandise or making a delivery, then we are not doing our jobs or making money. There's this belief that if an employee is sitting in training, they're “wasting time” where they could have been making that delivery. That's totally incorrect.
Business owners and managers would do well to help employees maintain the tools to do their job well. One of the best tools in the kit is the employee's knowledge! Helping them improve will help the company improve. If a driver has an incident or accident while delivering, then how much money did that company save by not spending the money “ wasting time” on training?
Nov. 12, 2020 at 10am Pacific
Learn practical tips to keep your drivers safe during the busy winter season.
Register now and get a free winter safety checklist!