What Outside Classroom Training Costs
November 17, 2015
In the last couple of posts (here and here) I talked about methods for figuring out what it costs to run a driver meeting, and whether or not it makes sense to pay drivers to attend. This time I'm going to look at classroom training through outside vendors and see what the numbers look like for that.
I write this post knowing full well that many of our partners offer this kind of training, so I'm definitely not suggesting that people should stop sending drivers to outside courses. However, I think it's important to understand the true cost of these activities and make informed decisions about how best to use different training delivery methods. There are times when it makes complete sense to send drivers to outside classroom training, and a clear picture of the costs makes it easier to decide when that is.
So, let's get started figuring it out.
I used these assumptions as a starting point:
- Outside classroom training costs $125 per person for a full day session (based on a review of different providers, this seems to be at the low end of the prices)
- The training is delivered at the vendor's training facility which is local for the fleet and driver (no flights or hotel required)
- The training happens sometime in the middle of the week (most vendors run training Tuesday - Thursday)
- Drivers get paid $100 for attending training (the average amount that Best Fleets pay their drivers for attending a training session)
- Staff time for Safety or Ops personnel has an equivalent cost of $500/day (based on calculations in my Driver Meetings post)
Using those assumptions, I ran some numbers for a sample fleet in a typical scenario - a 60 truck company where 6 drivers (10% of the fleet) get sent to outside training at some point during the course of a year.
The 6 drivers attending outside training each have a $125 registration fee to attend.
Total cost: 6 x $125 = $750
The 6 drivers are each getting paid $100 to attend.
Total cost: 6 x $100 = $600
Safety and compliance managers have indicated that the total effort to register a driver in the course, provide all the relevant details, and follow up afterwards to make sure everything went smoothly ends up around 45 minutes each time. For 6 drivers, that's 4.5 hrs. We'll round down and call it half a day.
Total cost: 0.5 days x $500/day = $250
Much like scheduling a driver meeting, Ops can have headaches scheduling drivers around a mid-week training course. Depending on the type of work a fleet does, it may be easy to give someone a couple of short loads so they can work around a session, or it may be nearly impossible. For this exercise, we'll use 'easier' numbers and say that it only costs an hour of their time to schedule each driver in for the mid-week training. For 6 drivers that's 6 hours, or 0.75 days.
Total cost: 0.75 days x $500/day = $375
$750 (registrations) + $600 (compensation) + $250 (Safety) + $375 (Ops) = $1975.
So, for 6 drivers to each attend one day of outside classroom training per year, it costs the company $1975.
Of course, there are other soft costs that should be considered as well, not the least of which is timeliness. Is that classroom training course available when it's needed? If the driver has to wait a week or two to get into the course, that can be a problem. If it's remedial training, is the driver on the road until they get the course (added risk) or off work (revenue hit)? If it's compliance or certification training, is it available before the driver's old certification expires? What if the vendor cancels or reschedules the course after you've put all that effort into making the driver available?
Put it all together and outside classroom training can become very expensive. It's probably no surprise to anyone that I think it makes more sense to do this stuff online - the nearly $2000 for those 6 drivers to attend one class is what it would cost for for the whole fleet to be online for 8 months.
However, classroom can be an effective tool and there are times when it's definitely the best option. In a future post I'll be discussing ways to combine them and get the best of both worlds but in the meantime here are a few cases where outside classroom training is ideal:
- The content is highly specialized or customized
- The content incorporates group exercises or practical elements
- The content is delivered in a language the driver is more comfortable with
In those situations, the cost of classroom is justified because it offers an experience unavailable otherwise. Of course, every fleet has different needs, but understanding the cost structure makes it easier to determine when it's worthwhile going one direction or another.
What has your experience been? Do you send drivers to outside classroom courses, and if so, how much does it end up costing you?