By Rafi Syed - CarriersEdge
Every year, the Best Fleets to Drive For team publishes a book summarizing results from the program for the given year. The book shows the scores each Top 20 fleet received on each question, but getting to those final scores involves a massive exercise in reviewing, comparing, and compiling each year.
Fleets are scored based on their driver-centric programs, driver satisfaction, and the results they're seeing in safety and retention. In 2022, over 5000 distinct answers were reviewed and scored by the Best Fleets program team over a week's time.For this column, we'll look at what's involved in reviewing all of the responses, determining a scoring matrix, and tallying the final results.Scoring the programs
The Best Fleets program team starts by reviewing the collected data to find out how questions will be scored. A scoring matrix for each question is then created and one person from the Best Fleets team is assigned to score that specific question.
The matrix for benefits, for example, may have columns for what's included in the benefits program, if there are any extraordinary additions, and how long a driver's waiting period to receive benefits might be.
After breaking out all the details of the various offerings from all the finalists into distinct columns, the team then reviews the full data set for the question and establishes a scoring rubric.Key criteria for establishing points are the amount of effort the company is investing, and how much those efforts improve the experience for drivers - a fleet may have plenty of driver-focused programs, but they need to make things better for the driver to really be valuable.
"As an example, does a driver feel more heard and acknowledged during a call from management or from an anonymous, online survey?" Mark Murrell, co-creator of the Best Fleets program, asks. "There's a different level of effort in the first one, and you can expect more personal connection and benefit for the driver from it."
After creating the rubric and assigning points to fleets based on it, the numbers are cross-checked by other team members to confirm the scores are consistent and defendable.
Mark Murrell, co-creator of the Best Fleets program, describes the safeguards as necessary to verify the matrix has been applied fairly and accurately. "We go through the process, establish what the scores are, and make sure everything adds up and is justifiable. All of this is for just one question. We repeat that process for each of the 50 odd questions we score."
The Best Fleets 2022 program had 55 questions to be answered, and a total of 206 points scored. It took a team of six people, working a full week, to complete the scoring process.Measuring driver satisfaction
Driver satisfaction is measured through the driver surveys, and while it takes less manual work to calculate, it's just as important to the final score.
Participating fleets are required to submit a target number of surveys, with the specific targets based on the size of the fleet. Once all surveys are submitted, a scoring formula determines overall satisfaction rates for each fleet automatically.
While meeting the minimum number of surveys provides a starting point for calculating satisfaction, exceeding the minimum provides a greater confidence level in the data received.Calculating the results
Once the program and satisfaction scores are compiled, the team looks at the safety numbers and puts together a safety score by tracking preventable and non-preventable DOT-reportable accidents per million miles.
The final data point - retention score - is calculated using a proprietary formula and includes a variety of inputs, such as average headcount, total number of exits, tenure at exit, and others. It also controls for various factors that can skew the results.
"Fleets that hire new entrants, for example, typically have more turnover, because people get on the road for a while and decide they don't really like the industry, and leave," Murrell says. "We look at the score they get in that question about how robust a company's new entrant program is."
The retention score is then combined with the safety score to get the results number.
Once all the individual section scores are determined, the overall score is calculated. This score balances programs, satisfaction, and results, in that order.
Murrell explains the reasons behind the heavier weighting on program scores: "Best Fleets is about recognizing the fleets that are making an effort to move the industry forward, and not just about recognizing satisfaction and results. A fleet might score a 100 in satisfaction and have drivers who aren't quitting or hitting anything, are happy enough with what they're doing, and understand customers. The fleet isn't making much effort because it found the right group of drivers for their freight mix. That's great, but it's hard for someone else to learn from that and won't help other fleets improve their own performance."
The specific scoring process and weighting evolves every year, as the team adds new scorable questions, criteria, andparameters. "The reason specific questions are scored differently every year is because the industry is always changing, and sometimes fleets introduce new programs and initiatives that take us in new directions," Murrell notes.
Highlighting the evaluation team's role in the process as that of data facilitators, he says "We always let the information speak for itself."