In the initial installment of this 2-part series, several illustrations were reviewed outlining the extremely serious and negative repercussions experienced by fleets as a result of selecting the “wrong” compliance services provider. Do not despair, however, as the ability to realize all benefits you desire in meeting your organization’s objectives – in fleet cost / risk reduction and streamlined process management – can absolutely be attained!
To assist you in achieving this “right” selection decision, today’s 2nd installment will next focus on the critical vetting questions and qualification criteria required to ensure success for your fleet and organization.
Compliance Services Provider Selection – Key Evaluation Elements:
- Guiding Mission and Purpose – does a philosophy resonate in the provider’s true reason for existence and benefit to you? (e.g.; making the roads safer, saving lives through compliance, etc.). Ask the question – the answer (or lack of) will be very telling.
- PARTNER (versus just a “processor”) Mindset – many providers view their role as data entry providers and numbers compilers. This function is the least valuable of a compliance services provider – the true benefit and value to the fleet organization is not in the clerical calculations, but rather in the quality assurance and integrity validation of these numbers to withstand the scrutiny of Federal / State audits and civil litigation / liability exposure. A true partner will also proactively analyze ALL data; continually identifying opportunities to reduce your fleet costs, mitigate liability / risk, and streamline process management.
- Industry Longevity – there is no substitute for the technical / regulatory expertise, experience, and seasoning in problem solving that is attained over decades of meeting the diverse needs of the leading fleets in North America. While newer providers may tout their market entry as the greatest thing since sliced bread, for many fleets, unfortunately, you are being courted to create a potential success story for the very 1st time. The carrier’s time and cost in taking this risk is tremendous and is not a gamble that a fleet can afford to make a mistake in – the consequences of failure are disastrous. Choose a proven commodity – there is a reason the phrase “standing the test of time” is indicative of not only past, but, most importantly, future, ensured success.
- Financial Stability – choose a partner that possesses the financial ability to not only meet your needs today, but, also, into the future through funding of new / enhanced technology and high standards of premier service delivery. Investigate whether the provider is privately owned with equity partner backing benefits and the philosophy of the private equity firm in talent / intelligence retention. Run a Dun & Bradstreet financial report and request / check banking references. You will learn an incredible amount in this specific vetting exercise – and quickly eliminate many providers with unstable financial standing, questionable ethical practices or unprofitable operations.
- Integrity, Trust, and Ethics – while the Transportation Industry is huge, the relationship network remains very tight, open, and known. There are, unfortunately, several providers that lack the personal, moral, or business ethics standards that are mandatory in a successful business relationship. Avoid doing business with these firms at all costs – it will only be a matter of time until the trust that you’ve placed in the principal(s) is violated and financially taken advantage of. Ask around to your industry connections – you will be amazed how well known these specific individuals / firms are for their ethical shortcomings and reputation.
- Expansive Services Capabilities – ensure that the selection of services offered by the provider will meet your, and your fleet’s, needs. It is critical that the solution to your specific needs is not limited by the provider’s lack of capabilities – in the event this limitation exists, eliminate the specific provider immediately from further consideration.Inquire whether a full spectrum of options exist at your disposal in solution design – Managed Services, Software as a Service (SaaS), Business Process Outsourcing with Labor Arbitrage – or any tailored COMBINATION of the above. What you will amazingly discover is that only 1 – 2 providers in the entire country can meet this critical evaluation metric.
- Commitment to Technology – inquire whether the compliance management platform is older legacy technology or a newer platform possessing the ability to manage Big Data and the Internet of Things. Are the provider’s solutions still driven by paper-based processes or completely electronic / paperless?Do dashboard reporting capabilities exist and can KPI metrics display be personalized / tailored by user? What is the history of the current platform design over the past 3-4-year timeframe (existing lagging technology, newly re-designed, number of enhancement releases / versions, date of most recent release, etc.? Request documentation relative to data protection / encryption, redundancy, and user access protocols to ensure that your sensitive personal identifiable information (pii) data is securely protected.
- Regulatory Compliance Expertise in ALL Vehicle Types – a crucial component of your vetting process entails ensuring that the provider possesses knowledge and expertise to encompass multiple vehicle types and applicability to all Federal & State regulatory statutes. Specifically, inquire into provider capabilities and expertise relative to the following multiple vehicle weight classes:
– 10,001 to 26, 000 lbs. GCVW (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight)
– 26,001+ lbs. GCVW (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight)
You will discover that many providers traditionally possess familiarity in only one of the two above weight niches. Because of this, be sure to select a provider that is fully versed in ALL asset weight classes and all vehicle specific statutory requirements relative to Federal, State, and County regulatory compliance – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Department of Transportation (DOT), International Registration Plan (IRP), International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and State / Local Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) Licensing Agencies.
- Proactive Leadership Practices versus Reactive – will the provider identify gaps in carrier FMCSA / DOT and IFTA / IRP compliance practices and elevated risk areas requiring immediate carrier focus and correction? The answer to this question truly separates the real contenders from the pretenders in meeting your needs – both short and long-term.
- Data Analysis Philosophy – Past versus Future.Select a provider that possesses the capability to utilize compliance audit results, historical & big data to assist in looking FORWARD through Predictive Analytics. This ability is paramount in controlling your fleet’s costs, liability, and risk exposure.
Through incorporation of all above critical vetting criteria, there is excellent news:
- You possess the complete ability to make the “correct” selection of an excellent long-term PARTNER.
- Through this “correct” selection, all benefits you desire in fleet cost / risk reduction and streamlined process management to meet the needs of your organization will be attained.