Driver Appreciation to the Max
When a trucking company hosts a driver appreciation event, the opportunity to win a new truck is rarely on the radar screen. Attendees at the September 13 and 14 Landstar BCO Appreciation Days arrived at the Rockford, Illinois operations center knowing that one lucky owner operator would be driving home in a new 2017 flame red Kenworth T680.
Open to Landstar Business Capacity Owners (BCOs), the 2016 Appreciation Days shined a spotlight on Landstar’s unique business model that relies on a network of independent agents and a network of independent, capacity providers. With the red carpet rolled out for BCOs during National Driver Appreciation Week, the annual gathering focuses on achieving three primary goals:
Showing genuine appreciation for the BCO’s day-in and day-out dedication to serving customer needs.
Delivering important messages about the state of Landstar, its operating units, and the industry in general with a special emphasis on safety.
Providing a forum for a two-way exchange of ideas focused on improving customer service, operations, safety, technology, and bottom-line results.
“The invitation-only event is restricted to Landstar BCOs,” said Rocco Davanzo, Executive Vice President of Capacity Development. “Dating back to 1985, these Appreciation Days have become an important part of our culture. They provide a great opportunity for BCOs to engage directly with senior Landstar management on any topic. Numerous improvements and efficiency gains have resulted from the many interactions and mutual understandings that characterize these meetings.
“A good example is our freight load board. Based on BCO feedback over the years, it has been regularly tweaked and fine tuned to keep pace with the ever-changing operating environment. A huge part of the ways in which BCOs interact with the load board has been developed based on the feedback received here and the resulting follow-ups, both internally and with BCOs.”
Structured with Flexibility
The two-day event provided a mix of general sessions for all attendees and eight breakout sessions related to various capacity segments and topics of interest to specific BCO groups. The day one, high-level overview delivered by Landstar President and CEO Jim Gattoni, focused on the state of the industry and the overall economy. In addition to his thoughts on supply and demand, pricing and the outlook for the year ahead, he reviewed how Landstar is structured to meet the needs of the marketplace in relation to the competitive and legislative environments in which the company operates.
Six high-ranking company executives representing key functional responsibilities participated in the open-mic session. Any topic was fair game, no restrictions. In front of everyone, the responsible executive who could best address a given topic answered each question. BCOs are promised honest answers and explanations, even if they may not like what they hear. Emphasis is placed on airing all topics of interest with open, respectful, two-way communication. History has demonstrated that BCOs appreciate these sessions and find them to be mutually beneficial.
A Q&A with six sales agents sensitized BCOs to the issues faced in serving customer needs and meeting expectations. BCOs gained insights—perhaps a different perspective—into agent-customer relationships. When the customer point of view is brought into the discussion, the subject matter can be eye opening. A different and better level of respect resulted from this group discussion.
Eight breakout sessions of interest to specific business segments and the BCOs who provide the related service were scheduled during the course of the two days. BCOs could choose the two sessions of most value to them. Rocco Davanzo, for example, hosted one on various technology offerings. Topics included why a new technology was used, or not used. Is it meeting expectations? How can it be improved? Are you aware of something better that should be offered? Heavy Haul, Expedited Services and Load Securement are examples of other breakouts.
A general session regarding safety and compliance issues ended the formal business meetings each day. Raffle tickets for the post-dinner prize drawings were distributed at that time. A wide range of door prizes provided by Landstar and the various vendors in attendance included six Microsoft Surface™ Tablets, a set of steer tires, and many other prizes of significant value. Of course, none of them compared to the Kenworth T680 awarded on Tuesday evening.
The annual Landstar Deliver to Win Truck Giveaway, powered by Comdata, is a special show of thanks to Landstar BCOs for their service excellence and their dedication to safety. To qualify, BCOs had to be accident- and claim-free since January 2015. Entries into the “electronic” barrel were earned in numerous ways through June 30, 2016 including attendance at safety meetings, number of loads delivered, clean Level I inspections and technology utilization, among others.
More than 220,000 entries were earned by BCOs across the United States. Five finalists were drawn in advance and, if not on the attendee list, were notified and flown in for the big event. One by one, they were called to the stage by Jim Gattoni after dinner. The keys to the Kenworth were secretly placed under one of five boxes lettered A to E and positioned on a table.
With assistance from three Comdata executives, each finalist drew a ping-pong ball numbered 1 to 5 in the order called to the stage. Starting with ball No. 1, each finalist then selected the box they wished to stand behind. On the count of three, the boxes were lifted. Tyrone Grant of Rockwall, Texas, a Landstar BCO since 2012, uncovered the keys under box D. He was the fourth finalist called to the stage. Tyrone and his wife, Lynn, became the proud owners of the 2017 Kenworth T680. They’ll also receive a cash payment from Landstar to help cover the additional income taxes due on the value of the truck.
For the non-winners, Comdata announced its commitment to contribute to the cost of the next Landstar Deliver to Win Truck Giveaway at the 2017 BCO Appreciation Days.