It’s the one thing that I get asked almost every day since we started Eclipse DOT, and although I love DOT more than any other human on this Earth and have spent countless hours trying to figure out a quick answer to the question. I didn’t have one.
“So…. Why is being compliant with DOT regulations so important?” a business owner asked me.
I smiled for a few seconds, knowing that the only way I could get him to really understand was to tell him a story, “Do you mind if I tell you a quick story about how I found out about DOT regulations and why they are so important? I think that’ll be the best way for you to understand why knowing the regulations is so important.” He agreed, and I started my story about how I discovered why DOT Regulations were so important to understand.
When I was working for a large, 1200+ driver company as an instructor. That company was audited by DOT, and they did NOT fare very well. In fact, they failed miserably. The only division of the company that was in compliance was mine.
While that made me feel really good, I was 5 guys out of 1200.
Then about 3 months after the audit, the president of the company came to my office one day and asked me personally if I would take on the task of getting them into compliance.
Before this, I was literally a driver trainer. And before that, I was just a driver. I had absolutely no idea what DOT regulations really were. I knew that you had to inspect your truck every day and follow the Hours of Service rules. But I had no idea there were other regulations that companies needed to follow with DOT. I really wanted to succeed in this new role, but I didn’t even know where to start looking for answers
What I really wanted was to become an expert that other people could lean on. Someone who others called to ask questions because they trusted what I had to say. I also wanted to prove myself to the world and all the people who thought I would never amount to anything.
Trying to learn about DOT regulations was like learning a new language.
I tried lots of different things that never really worked. I watched about a million webinars. Then I went to “training” in big cities where they just tried to sell me something but didn’t really teach me anything. I tried calling DOT officers across the nation and read the regulations until I would pass out from boredom. But there was nothing out there to help me really understand what I needed to do.
At least nothing simple.
I kept getting this answer from everyone, “Just read the regulations”
At about that time I felt called to start building my own systems and processes for DOT compliance. I had figured out just enough to get started and I could keep learning as I continued to build. So, I started by building a driver’s list and included everything that was required from the regulations plus what I really wanted for our company.
Next, I started contacting the guys in the field asking them for documents. Along with asking them lots of questions about what they were doing so that I could better understand the company.
The problem with that was that I was asking for so much from the guy’s in the field and they didn’t know who I was. Before my promotion, I kept to myself and didn’t say much to anyone else in the company. No one really knew who I was. They just saw my name on emails and their caller id. So, they didn’t know if I actually knew what I was talking about.
Almost overnight I went from having some success to no one wanting to talk to me at all. That meant that I had 2 options. One, find a way to get the field to work with me, or two, give up and say I tried but couldn’t get the company into compliance.
Over the next couple of weeks, I ended up locking myself in my office and combing through what I had already pulled for driver files. Because I just couldn’t get anyone to talk to me about them. Then one day while I was watching my 5th webinar of the day, I noticed that it was full of DOT lingo. A few short months ago this was like a foreign language to me, but now I have learned to kind of understand it.
Then it hit me like I was walking into a brick wall.
I needed to find a way to communicate with the drivers in a way that they could actually understand the regulations!
The way the government wrote the regulations was too confusing for almost the whole world. I was blessed with the ability to take something extremely complex and complicated and then turn it into a simple conversation.
I also needed to be 100% transparent with not only the leadership team but our whole company on our numbers and statistics. They needed to know where we stood and what was being done to help their team get into compliance.
I realized from this experience that the secret to successfully changing a DOT Program wasn’t WHAT I was doing, but HOW I was doing it. I needed to simplify the process and the language to make it easier to understand and digest.
I got so excited by the strategy that I had just had an epiphany about, and I wanted to see if it would actually work. So, I started to build a DOT Compliance spreadsheet. As I built it, I would modify it to be exactly what I needed. I added tons of columns and then started adding equations and tons of little extras that would make my life easier. I had it to where I could break it down into everything that the leadership team needed to see. Not only that, but I also built it where I could easily send out sections of it to different groups of the company so that they could see only their stuff.
Then to top it off I created visual charts and graphs to show progress for each division of the company.
After that, I started to make it a game for the different drivers and leaders in the company to see who could get their team into compliance the fastest.
At the same time, I started to send out emails that would begin educating the entire company on DOT and why it was so important to our lifeblood. These short paragraphs that went out weekly made a huge difference. It also helped everyone to know that I was on their side and that I wanted to do more than just my job. I was there to help them GROW.
It was like someone opened the floodgates. Overnight my email would fill up with the documents that I needed to get our team into compliance. Every morning I would have a stack of papers on my desk that had come in from across the company.
In less than 4 months we had our whole company up to more than 80% compliant. And in just under 6 months, we were sitting at 99% compliant. There is always one or 2 drivers out there that are hard to deal with. Lol. Leaders from across the company were asking me to come to their division and hold training for their drivers, foreman, HR, and Safety people to help them better understand the regulations.
As exciting as that is, I wanted to see if my frameworks could also work for other companies.
Soon, I launched our business Eclipse DOT, where we could help TONS of companies learn about why DOT regulations were so important and help them reduce the risk they didn’t even know existed.
If this worked for one LARGE company, how many other companies could benefit from my expertise and these frameworks that teach complicated things in a way simple enough that even my kids could understand them?
By now I’ve shared these frameworks with thousands of other companies. I’ve watched as one company took them and transformed their entire DOT program. They went from under 9% compliant to over 98% compliant in less than 35 days. And they have more than 400 drivers spread out across 5 states. They did all this while keeping up with their other daily duties. Like HR, Safety, Fleet, and yes even Operations.
I’ve even watched Alex go from getting his CDL and starting his company to owning 3 trucks outright in less than 2 years without any outside capital! He took our frameworks and grew his business beyond belief. We have helped countless other companies to do the same.
After I became a DOT Expert, my entire life changed. I was able to start my own business and help tons of other companies improve their DOT programs and compliance ratings. We have helped tens of thousands of drivers get into compliance and thousands of DOT professionals look like rockstars to their companies and drivers.
But what was even cooler than that was that I became known nationwide as a DOT expert. I have been invited to speak at events, podcasts, and webinars across North America. How cool is that?
On top of all that, we’ve watched as a countless number of others have been able to free themselves and better serve their people because of the frameworks that we created. Some have even launched their own businesses using our frameworks!
“Wow I run a _____ blank company that uses trucks, so you think that your DOT frameworks can help me?” This is usually the response that I get from most people after sharing my story.