A few weeks ago, Bennett International Group (Bennett) found itself in the middle of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic with millions of other companies. Since the United States government considers members of trucking and transportation industries critical infrastructure workers, it is Bennett’s responsibility to keep America’s freight rolling, especially in these circumstances.
Adapting to Unprecedented Conditions
During this unusual situation, Bennett quickly developed innovative ways to continue with normal operations of the company. With over 75% of Bennett employees working from home, creative measures were used to not interrupt any normal operations. These adjustments were necessary due to health and safety precautions for its employees, drivers, agents, owner operators, contractors, and customers.
One of these alterations to the introductory orientation for new drivers is already producing unexpected, positive results. Jodi Penn, Vice President of Quality, Customer Service and Leadership Development at Bennett, worked with her team to devise a plan that would allow Bennett Motor Express and Ace Doran drivers to attend orientation remotely. With some drivers staying home during this pandemic it continued to be important to bring on drivers to serve our customers as they work hard to create our new normal. Typically, drivers travel to Bennett’s home office in McDonough, Georgia, Houston or Cincinnati in order to complete orientation over the course of three to four days. Due to COVID-19, Jodi and her team wanted to keep the new drivers safe and limit their in-person contact but still be able to give them the tools and materials needed to get on-boarded successfully with Bennett.
Video Conferencing for Remote Driver Instruction
The new orientation is now held by using RingCentral™ technology. RingCentral™ is an application that allows individuals to communicate via video conferencing and team messaging capabilities. Using this technology, drivers are now able to participate in the orientation in real time. The drivers are able to save money by not having to travel to Bennett’s home office in McDonough.
They can attend orientation in an environment that they feel most comfortable in whether it be from the comfort of their own home or the sleeper of their truck. Also, a lot of the on-boarding paperwork that was originally handled and signed in person is now done electronically. This component saves the driver a lot of extra time by cutting down on the number of days attending orientation.
Orientation from the Comforts of Home Gets Rave Reviews
George Hale, owner operator with Bennett Motor Express, attended last week’s orientation from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I enjoyed attending the orientation remotely. It was awesome – everything was simple and well planned out. I felt like it gives you a chance to interact more comfortably compared to a classroom setting,” said Hale.
In order to participate, drivers are required to have two devices available (i.e. computer, smart phone or tablet). In this way, participants are familiarized with some of the technology needed while on the road. For instance, there is a specific website that drivers of Bennett need to gain access to and discover available loads based off of their current, GPS location.
In addition to learning new technology used at Bennett, attendees are exposed to a variety of presentations ranging from learning the history of the Bennett Family of companies, representing the company on the road, to services offered by our partners. Important emphasis is placed on safety measures, business skills, operations, and compliance.
From Cancelled Driver Orientation to Fully Operational
Michael Durden, Bennett Learning & Development Specialist, continued his role as training instructor of this new, digital curriculum. Given the restrictions associated with COVID-19 epidemic, he was pleased to be able continue new driver orientation, and he has already seen many benefits since teaching remotely over two weeks ago. “It has been really great to be able to spend more one-on-one time with our owner operators in this type of setting. I’m able to teach 5-6 drivers a week over one and a half days.” said Durden.
“Our main goal is to protect and take care of our drivers. They are the backbone of Bennett and we want to make sure we give them the necessary information to be successful. We wanted this process to be as easy as possible for them, especially right now. Hopefully, this will allow for us to be able to hold 90% of orientations remotely even after COVID-19 is past us and there will no limitations of just the classroom,” said Jodi Penn, Bennett Vice President of Quality, Customer Service and Leadership Development.
Bennett is proving that a little ingenuity may help us thrive during this time of crisis and enable us to respond quickly and efficiently as our country gets back to work following this pandemic. For more information on bringing your trucking business to Bennett, visit drive4bennett.com.