December 20, 2022
Product Marketing Manager
Safety is important every time of year, but the holidays can present unique challenges for many physical operations companies. Warehouses are busier, more shipments go out, and as the weather turns colder in many parts of the country, the roads can be more hazardous. In fact, crashes increase by more than 30% during holidays, with Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day being the most dangerous for drivers.
One company that understands the challenges of a busy holiday season well is Glazer's Beer and Beverage. Glazer’s is one of the largest wholesale beer distributors in the United States, with 1,600 employees at 11 branches across Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Every year, Glazer’s distributes more than 35 million cases of beer, and the company has recently added non-alcoholic beverages to their product lineup.
Glazer's puts safety at the core of their business. Their team has invested heavily in building a highly effective safety program that keeps drivers and the general public safer. In fact, by using Samsara’s Video-Based Safety solution, Glazer’s has seen a 36% reduction in vehicle incidents in 2022. "We're thrilled with what Samsara has done for our driver safety, and safety overall," said Will Herrin, Vice President of Operations at Glazer's.
At the end of the year, Glazer's safety program is put to the test. "The end-of-year holidays are a really busy time for us," said Herrin. “Our on-premise business increases, so our fleet makes a lot of deliveries to private holiday parties and corporate events, and our stop count goes way up."
The strategies that Glazer’s uses to stay safe during the holiday rush are valuable for any physical operations company that faces a busy holiday season—or any busy time of year. Read on to learn four best practices that help Glazer’s employees perform at their best under pressure and meet a high bar for safety all year.
Data has become central to Glazer's operations and safety, and the company now uses it as a way to drive accountability. "We love the transparency Samsara gives us, but we don't use it to micromanage drivers or branches," Herrin said. "We use the data to see patterns from the corporate side to identify problems and provide more support to local branch managers. We also use Samsara Safety Reporting to see how effective the coaches are. If we see managers coaching a lot of folks for a certain behavior, and there's no improvement, then we rate the effectiveness of those coaches and offer them more training."
Glazer's also uses data to empower drivers to flag safety issues they see. "We recently rolled out Samsara's digital DVIR tools and launched a new process that drivers can use to report vehicle defects," said Theodore Smith, Fleet and Safety Manager at Glazer's. "Before the new system, drivers were less confident that the items they observed would be resolved quickly. Digital DVIRs give drivers confidence that someone will look at it and follow—up ensuring they will be getting a properly maintained, safe vehicle."
Safety programs can be complex, with many parts and stakeholders across an organization, and it can be hard to know where to start building one. For Herrin, however, a strong safety policy should always come first. "What we've found is that, if you have a good safety policy and you follow it, unsafe behaviors take care of themselves," he said.
Herrin encourages safety managers to look to safety leaders in their industry—he points to Coca-Cola as a model for Glazer's—and follow what fits each organization best. "Make sure that the safety policy is really smart and covers everything you need it to address," he said. "Then, once you feel good that you have a policy that's fair and that employees can buy into, move into how you're going to measure people and apply the policy moving forward."
For Glazer's, a solid safety policy—backed by data aggregated by Samsara—is a key lever that helps the company turn words into action. "It's easy for us to say things like, 'our people are our most important asset,' but to make it more than just a platitude, we have to go out and actually engage employees on the frontline to make sure they understand the 'why,'" Herrin said. "Safety is not a 'gotcha' thing, it's something where we need to make sure we're applying policies fairly, correctly, and, with the help of Samsara, coaching to outcomes that make sense for everyone."
Unlike some businesses, Glazer’s does not hire seasonal drivers during busy times. Instead, they have a strong focus on driver retention and professional development. "We're really looking for permanent CDL employees, and we're proud of the fact that a lot of our drivers have been at the company for over 25 years," said Herrin.
To encourage drivers to stay, Glazer’s has created a variety of programs, including an in-house CDL driver training program and an event called the Safety Rodeo. "Once a year, the top two performers from each branch come together to compete in the Safety Rodeo," Herrin said. Drivers go against each other in several challenges, including an obstacle course. "Last year, we took the feed from the Samsara Dual-Facing AI Dash Cam and projected it onto two giant outdoor screens so everyone could see the driver's reactions through the course," he said. Next year, Glazer's will use Samsara Safety Scores as one of the criteria for selecting top drivers.
Even though Glazer’s is busier during the holidays, the company doesn’t wait until the season changes to prioritize safety. “Safety is every day for us," said Herrin. "In order to make it part of our company culture, we have to make it an obsession and focus on it every day. We have a really well-defined safety program that we are very serious about."
Part of Glazer's safety program includes a driver coaching program that uses footage from Samsara AI Dash Cams to help managers address unsafe behaviors. "We focus on speeding and mobile usage, and we coach those behaviors very aggressively," Herrin said. "We also use In-Cab Alerts for speeding and seat belt usage, so drivers can correct behaviors on their own."
With video-based coaching and In-Cab Alerts, Herrin has noticed a change in employees' approach to safety company-wide. "As our incident rates have fallen, it's helped drivers to think about driving conditions and safe vehicle operation. Drivers are communicating in a way that shows they're more aware of safety than ever before."
Even though safety and data are always top of mind for Glazer's, the team has their eye on making bigger improvements in 2023. "Working with Samsara, we want to see another 25% reduction in our incident rate, which will give us a staggeringly low total case rate," Herrin said. "We're thrilled with what we have now, but we know it can be even better."
Smith is looking ahead to using Samsara's fuel efficiency reporting to lower costs. "We spend almost half a million dollars on fuel every month, so I'm eager to dive in and find opportunities to be more efficient," he said. "We can use Samsara to benchmark our vehicles to see if there are outliers that need better maintenance, and we can even gamify efficiency so drivers can compete to be more efficient.” If you’re interested in learning more about how Samsara can help companies improve safety across their operations, read our Safety Guide.