Too many operators are trying to shave the hourly rate they pay for agency drivers rather than using technology such as telematics to improve  the performance of temporary staff, according to fast-growing driver agency Milestone.

Milestone director Adam Thompson says: “Too many operators look to save 20p on the hourly rate and don’t care about the driver’s performance. Instead we are using technology to reward our drivers for good behaviour, including green band driving, avoiding accident damage and complying with drivers’ hours rules.”

The agency claims it is the first to set up an incentive scheme – Smile Miles – to reward safe and efficient driving, arriving for shifts on time, taking on jobs at short notice and driving legally. The scheme now has around 1,000 members who can earn points towards shopping vouchers or Red Letter Day experiences.

“We can measure our drivers’ performance and prove they as good as permanently employed drivers,” says Thompson.

Milestone has grown rapidly and is now on track for an annual turnover of £25m this year, supplying to major fleets including DHL, Stobart, Wincanton and Norbert Dentressangle. Looking ahead, Thompson predicts some operators could move away from employing any drivers, just using agency staff in the same way they lease rather than buy trucks. 

“They could use telematics to move from paying drivers by the hour to paying per journey,” he says. “This could then be productivity related, with the operator only paying the full rate for the job if it is done on time and with the vehicle driven in the green band.”

With the Driver CPC becoming mandatory in 2014, and many drivers expected to either miss the deadline or retire, Thompson says he is “paranoid” about drivers shortages in two years’ time.

“When we set the company up in 2006 we had a lot of international drivers, but we are no longer recruiting overseas,” he says. “The Queen’s Golden Jubilee weekend was already in crisis management because of driver shortages.”