When it comes to joining a new fleet, even the most experienced drivers can feel bombarded with the new way of doing things, or adjusting to different equipment or technology.
That’s why at Grand Island Express, there are about 15 mentors who pair up with new recruits to offer them support as they transition into their career at the fleet.
The small refrigerated carrier, serving more than 38 states in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., has their new drivers participate in a 13-week training curriculum. While in the mentorship program, new drivers participate in a weekly call that covers topics related to the job. The calls are also open to any other topics of conversation new drivers want to bring up.
The mentors in the program are experienced drivers that are known to do very well. They become “the shoulder to lean on” whenever new drivers have a concern, explains GIX Director of Operations Deen Albert.
And that peer-to-peer support is important.
“Sometimes it’s not the most comfortable thing to call you boss and ask what you think might be a stupid question,” he explains. “It’s a lot easier to call up a mentor and say, ‘Hey, I have this going on. What do you think I should do?”
This mentorship program is one that even the most experienced drivers can benefit from when they first join the fleet.
“We understand that when we hire a driver from the industry, they know how to drive — we don’t want to teach them how to drive, that’s already been done. But, they may not understand our customers, our fleet managers themselves, or the load board,” Albert explains. “So the mentors are there to help them transition into Grand Island Express, and get them to be efficiently production as quickly as possible.”
GIX is one of 20 carriers named to the CarriersEdge and Truckload Carriers Association 2021 Best Fleets to Drive For list. It is the 10th consecutive year GIX has made the list. Best Fleets to Drive For is an annual survey and contest that identifies the for-hire carriers providing the best workplace for their drivers, according to the website.
This story is part of a series covering best practices for carriers to make their operation one driver's want to work for.