Heroes of the Hound: Milan Supply Chain Solutions

WorkHound Customer Q&A: Milan

There’s a famous quote from Admiral Grace Hopper that says, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”

That’s an absolute truth — and one that helps guide the way that Milan Supply Chain Solutions, Inc., operates on a daily basis. You could call it their secret to success.

Heroes of the HoundIn an industry that is ever-changing, Milan takes intentional, continual steps to evolve. That’s helped keep the company going since its founding in 1969 as Milan Express.

Rachel Lovell, Vice President of People Operations at Milan, offers some insight about how the company finds success in recruiting and retention — and Lovell knows a thing or two about success. In 2019, she was named as the first woman to win Transport Topics’ Recruiting Professional of the Year.

Sign up for our newsletter

WorkHound: What is Milan working on right now?

Lovell: We’re working on retaining our drivers — and how we’re going to crack the ever-growing question of driver recruiting. 

One of the things we pride ourselves on is that we are “outside-of-the-box” thinkers. We are challenging conventional thinking.

We hear every day that the driver shortage is real. We’ve known it was coming for a long time. But what are we going to do about it? How can we improve the driver experience at Milan?

WorkHound: What role does WorkHound play in helping you improve driver experience?

Lovell: That’s really where WorkHound has done a phenomenal job. WorkHound, being the platform that it is, provides us with unfiltered responses from our drivers — the good, the bad, the ugly. 

It’s what we need to hear. We need to know what our drivers are going through while they’re on the road. Their experience is stressful.

One of the greatest things that WorkHound has done is that it’s enabled us to see feedback in real-time and take action. That makes such a difference for our drivers and our company as a whole.

WorkHound: What do you find helpful in your interactions with your driving team?

Lovell: Empathy plays a big role in the work we do. Empathy, I think, is a lost art and a lost emotion. A lot of people just push it under the rug. In 2020 when COVID-19 hit, people began to recognize just how important truck drivers are.

Everything would come to a halt in three days if drivers stop trucking. That’s something that really resonated with everybody, not only at Milan but also outside of our company.

You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes. You’ve got to realize that they are struggling some days. They may have a bad day. How can we improve that? How can we help? How can we improve communication and let drivers know that they can always come to us and we will help?

WorkHound: How does Milan handle change within the industry?

Lovell: I have always said: “I am a ball of change.” I love change. Change is inevitable, and it’s all in how you embrace the change. 

There’s always room for improvement, even if we’re performing at our top-notch and firing on all cylinders. That’s one way we’re setting ourselves apart. We’re very self-aware, and we know we’re not perfect. What can we do to improve at every step of the process?

Transportation is ever-evolving. If I think back to the 1980s and 1990s, about the stories that I hear from our drivers who used to drive then — everything is different. Seeing that the industry does change and asking the question “How are we going to change along with it?” is really what sets us apart. 

WorkHound: How do you use WorkHound in your everyday operations?

Lovell: When I look at WorkHound feedback, I look at it from the recruiting position. I try to see it from all angles — which division is it affecting, are we taking the right steps, do we need to push a little harder?

It all starts for me from the recruiting aspect. I’ll give you one example. A driver said, “I’m really not happy right now because of my miles.”

The first thing that pops in my head is: “We didn’t do our job on the recruiting end of making sure that we over-communicated and ensured that this driver was 100% certain of the job he was being hired to do.”

We have to make sure we are communicating clearly about these things, and improving the recruiting message to drivers is one step in that process. It’s all tied back to improving the entire driver experience.

We’ve also had some drivers comment on the driver lounge at our Jackson, TN, location, so we’re looking at how we can improve that lounge area. 

Knowing what our drivers are needing shows us exactly where we’re going to take action.

WorkHound: If you could share a message about WorkHound with other companies, what would it be?

Lovell: If we didn’t have WorkHound, there’s a good chance that the drivers’ voices would not be heard because sometimes drivers won’t take that extra step of calling somebody. If they can take this simple step of texting in feedback, they know they’re going to be heard.

Our upper managers have made it clear that “we hear you” and “we’re going to make these adjustments.” No suggestion goes unheard. 

Our goal is to grow. We want to expand. Being in tune with what the driver base is seeing is essential. As you grow, you experience pains along the way. WorkHound is going to be a partner that is going to help us alleviate those growing pains.

WorkHound is not going to single-handedly change your company. But WorkHound is going to provide you with information and the tools you need to make those changes. That’s the honest truth.

Milan is part of a community of carriers that utilize continuous and anonymous driver feedback to help understand areas of priority and praise for their essential workforce. Want to put this into action for your company? Reach out to WorkHound today to talk with an expert.