(Jeff Thompson, Courtesy of Jeff Thompson)
Thursday and Friday of last week I watched Gary, my co-worker, leading our Engineering & Operations training class. He’s a former FedEx leader with decades of operations experience. His expertise is unmatched.
Most of the students last week were BC’s. They paid close attention. That’s impressive because earlier in the week they attended the Leadership & Management class, too. BC’s are accustomed to spending most days on their feet. Sitting in a classroom all week is rare for them, but so important.
The attendees, alongside several AO’s and new owners, were truly interested in changing the trajectory of their businesses. Change is not for the weak, nor for those who cannot handle uncertainty.
The week begins by asking attendees to write down the most important questions they want answered. Some of last week’s replies were predictable, and others not so much.
What BC's Are Wanting
One BC from Michigan wrote, “To be able to see the data both positively and negatively. The ability to learn and grow to make better decisions for our team.”
An attendee from Kentucky wrote, “My main focus is to gain as much knowledge as possible! From managing people to managing the company, and bringing it all together effectively.”
A BC from Ohio wrote, “I would like to learn how to provide more structure in operations, recruiting, and moving drivers through their training faster.
An attendee from Arkansas wrote, “To become a better business leader and run our routes as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Not only did the class represent a cross-section of geographic locations, they varied by race, gender, and experience levels. Every time we offer these training classes, it’s amazing to observe people who’ve never met each other develop connections quickly around shared goals and truths in their lives.
Most of the attendees admit that leading their drivers is one of their most daunting challenges. It applies whether they're leading teams with as few as twenty, or as many as eighty. When you lead, you’re going to deal with issues people issues.
Folks unfamiliar with the FedEx Ground model would generally assume that driver recruiting, onboarding, managing, disciplining, and guiding are standardized across the board. In fact, it wouldn’t be unusual if our friends in Pittsburgh provided a training manual. However, that cannot happen.
As a result, there are as many ways to run an operation as there are contractors. Who’s in charge of recruiting? You are. Who’s in charge of hiring? Same answer. Who trains BC's? You can look in a mirror. One long-time contractor friend of mine frequently says management training is the biggest missing piece of running a contracting operation.
Training leaders is a common entrepreneurial challenge. For most franchisees, the new entrepreneur typically receives management training from the franchiser. For independent, small businesses, the owners can seek training from industry associations, advisors, and anywhere they please.
Where to Find Management Training
So, it’s uniquely difficult for an entrepreneurs in the FXG world to adhere to contractual expectations, yet not receive specific advice on how to train managers. Doing so would cause legal jeopardy.
Contractors are left to figure it out on their own. Most simply ask around in their own locations, or terminals. They may even turn to social media for lack of a better solution. Unfortunately, the admonition that you “get what you pay for” rings true there.
If you know this truth, then you may be thinking there must be a better way to avoid reinventing the wheel. That’s where my friend, Gary, is worth his weight in gold. Watching him respond to question after question, and seeing the “light bulbs” switch on for students is rewarding. These are real leaders with real questions who want to learn more.
I received the following words on Friday afternoon from an attendee.
“Thank you to you and the team at eTruckBiz for allowing me to attend this week's training. It was overall such an eye-opening experience that I'm truly grateful for! You and the team at eTruckBiz have been so helpful with my development. Thank you once again for this experience and helping to better my knowledge.”
That is why we do what we do. You can learn more about training by clicking here.