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5 Tips for Recruiting Great Truck Drivers

Maximize your odds of hiring better truck drivers by looking for the four key qualities that all great employees share: Work ethic. Humility. Integrity. Maturity. (WHIM)

We all know the driver shortage is making it tougher to find any truckers—much less the great ones. But it goes without saying that the best hires are usually the ones you keep the longest. For one reason, because they have the key qualities you want in your drivers.

Noted author and workplace productivity coach & trainer Garrett Miller (and author of Hiring On A WHIM) published an article offering seven tips for identifying the best job candidates. In reviewing that article, five struck me as being relevant for Driver Recruiting. Here’s a summary of those tips:

1) Assess their WORK ethic. Ask candidates to describe their work experience in detail. Listen for signs of motivation, intensity and excitement.

2) Discern their HUMILITY. Ask candidates to describe the last new process they had to learn. Good signs are willingness to ask for help and seek coaching. Ask what they learned from their most humbling moment.

3) Determine their INTEGRITY. Ask candidates about their biggest disappointment or failure, and see if they took the appropriate level of responsibility for it.

4) Evaluate their MATURITY. Ask candidates to talk about one of their greatest regrets. Listen for bitterness or complaining versus maturity.

5) Throw in a Wrench. Knock them off balance to see how they react. After all, what better way to determine how they deal with the “monkey wrenches” they’ll deal with every day on the road?

It’s pretty simple, really: The best drivers love what they do. Miller’s tips are a helpful system for separating the drivers who merely say they love their work from the ones who really do. At the same time, when you emphasize the importance of the qualities mentioned above in your recruiting efforts, you’re positioning your company as the kind of quality organization that quality drivers want to join.

Click on the following link to read Garrett’s article, 7 Tips for Hiring Great Employees, in its entirety.

FOR FURTHER READING
National Carriers’ Elite Solution To Truck Driver Recruiting & Retention
How Not To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers (Part 1)
Truck Driver Recruiting: Speaking To The Wives

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A Truck Driver Recruiting Solution With Staying Power.

walletThe Next Big Thing May Be A Lot Smaller (And Older) Than You Think.

We’ve dedicated a lot of space in Talking Truckers to the relative merits of Print vs. Interactive media. And while we agree that online and mobile solutions are increasingly important (and effective) in reaching drivers in today’s recruiting marketplace, we’re still convinced the most effective media mix includes both.

Which brings us to a third option that’s often under the radar in media buying conversations—and yet, it’s inspired as much long-term loyalty among carriers as any option we’ve used for our clients over the years: Pocket Card Networks (PCN).

CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS
“We’ve been with Pocket Cards for 8 years, and they have consistently out-performed magazines by a margin of 3 to 1,” says Quality Distribution’s Manager of Driver Services Pat French. CalArk’s Director of Recruiting Mary Cundiff concurs. “We’ve been a partner with them since 2008, and consider them one of our better outlets for hires.”

It’s no secret that 2013 was a tough year for traditional print publications—in part because the market simply couldn’t sustain the sheer number of books in print. And yet, notes Ken Schaffer, who co-founded PCN 12 years ago, “2013 was on of our best years to date.”

SIMPLE, CONVENIENT
One big reason for PCN’s effectiveness is its simplicity. “Like the name says, our cards—which are distributed in over 708 locations and 46 states—literally fit in a driver’s pocket. Or in their wallet. Because of that, drivers tend to keep our cards longer than they would a digest-size publication—much less the link to an online job posting.

“In fact,” Schaffer continues, “we routinely hear from clients who’ve made hires from cards we’d placed for them three to six months earlier.”

MESSAGING IMPACT
Next to Staying Power, PCN’s biggest advantage over, say, Job Boards is Brand Messaging. Chris Eisenhauer of Triple Crown Services—who’s been with PCN since 2005—agrees: “We use Pocket Cared Networks because they provide us great branding.” At the same time, he also likes PCN’s convenience factor. “It’s a unique avenue to reach drivers who may not pick up other recruiting material.”

All that said, even Schaffer will tell you that PCN’s results aren’t what they used to be. “Six years ago we were generating up to 1,200 driver calls a month for carriers. Those days are gone. But with fewer drivers in the market and more carriers fighting for drivers, those days are gone for everybody.”

THE BOTTOM LINE
The best media mix is still a media mix. And as any veteran recruiter can tell you, sometimes it’s the little things that mean most to drivers.

FOR FURTHER READING
Towne Air Takes Driver Recruiting Into The Here And Now
Go Mobile To Recruit Truck Drivers (Part One of Two)
In Truck Driver Recruiting, Print Advertising Is Alive And Well.

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Recruiting Truck Drivers With Craigslist (And Brand Power)

111How A Modest Campaign Surpassed All Expectations.

Last year we heard about a small agency specializing in Craigslist recruitment advertising, which was hired by a large company to launch and maintain a targeted Craigslist campaign on a limited budget.

A Tough Challenge. Overnight Results.
The company, which has locations nationwide, had never developed a centralized system for recruiting drivers. There was no consistent driver-recruiting message, and no presence of any kind in the driver-recruiting media. Moreover, the agency was charged with recruiting new drivers in 40 of the company’s toughest-to-hire markets.

And yet, by the second day of its Craigslist campaign (after the agency had posted ads in just two cities), the company was already receiving dozens of responses.

How To Explain The Response Rate?
The agency certainly deserved credit for creating job-post headlines and copy that motivated qualified job-seekers to click on the ads. At the same time, the agency utilized a number of proprietary techniques for routinely refreshing the company’s ads without getting flagged by Craigslist.

But I believe the company’s brand in the marketplace is what ultimately led so many of those prospects to respond.

Yes, Brand Power Works.
What the company lacked in a driver-recruiting message strategy, it more than made up for with its long-standing reputation as one of America’s best large employers. Compared to the typical buttoned-down Fortune 100 corporation, the company’s culture is known for being down-to-earth, even blue-collar. There’s a genuine family atmosphere at most of its locations, and the company has a great record for Driver Appreciation.

Couple that with an excellent benefits package and career-advancement opportunities for drivers to move into office positions, and you’ve got a company that treats its people right. All of which explains why its annual driver turnover is roughly 1/6 the industry average.

The Morals Of This Story
1)
There’s no question that good copy attracts more Craigslist clicks than dull copy does, but great creative only works (long-term) for great companies. Before you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

2) If your Craigslist ads are being consistently flagged, you’re doing it wrong. More importantly, you’re squandering one of the most effective recruiting resources available.

Honestly, I don’t know why Craigslist doesn’t establish reasonable Corporate Account guidelines—so good companies can “legally” post in multiple cities, for a reasonable monthly fee. But that’s a story for another day.

FOR FURTHER READING

Blogging: The Future Of Online Truck Driver Recruiting?

Go Mobile To Recruit Truck Drivers (Part One of Two)

Five Tips For Using Pay-Per-Click to Recruit Truck Drivers

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National Carriers’ Elite Solution to Truck Driver Recruiting & Retention

National driver Steven Strickland

National driver Steven Strickland

 

Irving, Texas-based Company Takes The Entire Industry To School

You hear it all the time: There aren’t enough young drivers coming into the trucking industry. The trucking industry doesn’t get the respect it deserves any more. It’s a lot like the weather: Everyone complains about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Now, I know full well that isn’t true: There’s a lot being done every day—by a lot of good people—to attract young drivers, and to bolster the industry’s public image. But it’s equally true that National Carriers is taking its commitment to both causes, and to drivers themselves, to a new level.

National’s Elite Fleet University, created in cooperation with Seward County Community College in Liberal, KS, is not what you probably think it is (just another company-owned truck-driving school). It’s literally a school offering drivers the opportunity to get a college education—while still earning a full-time salary.

An Enthusiastic Enrollee
The inaugural class is scheduled to begin January, 2014—and National driver Steven Strickland, one of the first enrollees, sums-up the opportunity like this: “You just don’t know how excited I am! I couldn’t go to college coming out of high school. Now I can do my studies online and get college credit—and the cost is exceptional ($400 a quarter, paid direct through an easy payroll-deduction plan).

“I plan on going through every class, but I’m already thinking about how I can use the first course—Business Math. For starters, I won’t have to pay someone to do my taxes. It’ll help me do a better job of managing my money. I’ve even thought about doing a little accounting work for some of the other drivers.”

The Long-Term Benefit To National
Long term, Strickland might even use his education to move out of the truck and into the office at National. Which is one of the central aspects of the vision National’s Ed Kentner had when the idea for Elite Fleet University originally came to him last June: Career advancement within the company; giving good people real opportunities to stay with National. It was an idea, notes Kentner, born of first-hand experience. “Coming out of high school, I couldn’t afford college myself—and that was frustrating to me.”

Kentner earned his degree at night school while working for National, and is a big believer in education. “Better educated people make better decisions that benefit everyone—especially themselves.”

A Commitment From Leadership
Kentner reports that his idea was an easy sell to National’s decision-makers. It’s clearly enhanced National’s image as a company that genuinely cares about drivers. And it’s a great addition to the company’s aggressive Driver Retention initiative—which, Kentner reports, has reduced turnover during the last 18 months by about 25%.

The Response From Drivers
“I’m now hearing from drivers in their 50s and 60s, who tell me this is something they’ve always wanted to do,” says Kentner. “We’re even working on a Letterman jacket.”

For Further Reading

How Con-way Recruits Young Truck Drivers With Apprenticeships

Crete’s Healthy Approach To Truck Driver Recruiting & Retention

The Truth Behind Interstate Distributor’s Driver Retention Numbers

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Recruiting Owner Operator Truckers With Lease Purchase: 5 Tips

How One Alabama-Based Company 
Made Its Program A Success

In just eight months last year, Alabama-based flatbedder WTI Transport signed over 100 new Lease Purchase agreements. Since the company’s entire fleet was in the 300-truck range at the time, that should tell you two things:

1) With the difficulty of finding banks to finance truck purchases, Lease Purchase programs are quickly becoming the only way ambitious drivers can become Owner Operators.

2) The folks at WTI are doing something right. Particularly when you consider how many of their Lease Purchase drivers successfully take title to their trucks. “The main thing is, we don’t treat our program as a profit center,” says Lease Purchase Director Jason Quinn. “We created it because we really do want to see more drivers become Owner Operators.

“Our President Rendy Taylor has always said, ‘We can’t consider ourselves successful until a driver gets his title.’ That’s our philosophy. And drivers know that.” So what’s WTI’s secret? It’s no secret: They actually help their drivers succeed.

HERE ARE THE FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF WTI’S PROGRAM.

1) Minimize The Down Payment.
Better still, says Quinn, don’t require any money down.

2) No Balloon Payments.
It’s pretty simple, Quinn continues: If a driver can’t afford a large down payment, he certainly can’t afford a huge balloon payment. After all, Quinn notes, that’s where so many Lease Purchase drivers at other companies lose their trucks.

3) Pay A Decent Wage. And Make Payments Affordable.
As of August of 2012, WTI was paying its Lease Purchase drivers 70% of gross. That’s as high as you’ll find in the industry. It’s why driver Andre Davis left another company for a Lease Purchase agreement with WTI: “With that other company, I had to run a minimum of 4000 to 4500 miles a week just to make any money for myself. Plenty of weeks, I owed them money.”

4) Offer A Fuel Routing Program.
A successful Fuel program combines maximum fuel surcharge with solid MPG practices, says Quinn.

5) Teach Drivers Good Business Practices.
“We think this is one of the real cornerstones of our program,” Quinn explains. “There’s a huge learning curve for anyone taking the leap from Company Driver to Owner Operator, so we created a Business Planning support system, to monitor our Lease Purchase drivers’ success in several key areas. Each Fleet Manager regularly reviews, with his drivers, a chart he keeps on those areas. Over time, the areas he’s marked red (problem) and yellow (potential problem) start turning green.

“So I guess, Quinn concludes, “you might say we aren’t really successful until our Lease Purchase graduates consider themselves successful Owner Operators.”

Good conclusion.

For Further Reading

Five Steps For Recruiting Owner Operator Truck Drivers

How NOT To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers (Part 1)

How NOT To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers (Part 2)

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Driver Recruiting Ads Should Focus On What Matters To Truckers

                                            (No, that’s NOT what I meant…)

The best place to start developing effective driver recruiting ads is by talking with your drivers. If you ask the right questions, you might learn a lot more than you’d expect.

(NOTE: This post was originally published in 2011, but it’s generated a steady stream of clicks lately, so I thought I’d update and re-post it. Hope you find it worthwhile!)

Take Birmingham’s Baggett Transportation. An owner operator company primarily serving the military, Baggett hired an outside consultant to interview a series of its drivers. The results of those interviews ultimately led to a complete overhaul of the company’s recruitment ad campaign. And its website.

Below are interview comments Baggett received from the team of Bonnie and Wayne Speegle:

Baggett treats its owner operators like partners.
We’ve been Owner Operators with Baggett for 17 years because they treat people right. Whenever you deal with them, you know they have your best interest at heart. And that’s important, because there are always going to be tough times in a job like this. But when you’re with a company you trust and respect, you can be confident the good will always outweigh the bad.

Baggett knows who we are, and how we like to work.
Everybody at Baggett knows us by name. They know the kinds of jobs we prefer to take. They work with us like partners, not employees. And they understand that we have lives outside of our truck.

We’re proud to work for a company that serves our armed forces.
It’s an honor to be treated with the kind of respect you get when you’re working with men and women in uniform. There are a lot of drivers who deal with being treated poorly and disrespectfully on a regular basis. We experienced it ourselves before we started handling military transport, and it makes so much difference in the way you feel about yourself when people appreciate you.

How Baggett used that driver feedback.
The company formulated a core messaging strategy that emphasized the fact that Baggett is a company where drivers genuinely feel like they make a difference. Starting with the brandline which combined that message with the company’s proud tradition of serving the military: LET’S ROLL TOGETHER.

Result
Baggett’s Director of Driver Recruitment Claiborne Crommelin reports the campaign has been very well received—and represents a significant improvement over the company’s previous efforts.

For Further Reading

Five Reasons You Should Add Content Marketing To Your Mix

Improve Truck Driver Recruiting By Listening To Your Drivers

Better Branding Maximizes Truck Driver Recruiting Effectiveness

What The Super Bowl Teaches Us About Truck Driver Recruiting Ads

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Blogging: The Future Of Online Truck Driver Recruiting?

fishingFive Reasons You Should Add Content Marketing To Your Mix

If you’re wondering, “What is Content Marketing?”, guess what: You’re reading it right now. Don’t misunderstand: It is very much my goal to provide readers with valuable recruiting advice and ideas. But I also hope this blog establishes my credibility with recruiters who are in the market for a good ad agency.

So why would you add Content Marketing to your recruiting mix? More importantly, how would you do it? The simple answer to the second question is: Start blogging. Publish stories highlighting issues related to your company that prospective drivers consider important.

Now, here are five reasons why you should consider Content Marketing:

1) To increase your website’s Search Engine Rankings.
In an article published September 26, 2013, the New York Times reported that Google is changing its Search Algorithm to handle more complex queries; a change that will affect 90% of all searches.

The key takeaway I get from the new algorithm is: It’s tailor-made for Content Marketing. So if your blog posts contain content that’s relevant to what drivers want from a job, those posts should eventually start showing-up in their online searches.

Let’s use this blog as an example of how Content Marketing works for me: Run a Google search on the phrase Recruiting Truck Drivers Through Referrals. NOW: How many of your top unpaid results are Talking Truckers stories? I asked contacts in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina to do just that. For most, the top three or four unpaid results were Talking Truckers posts. For one, it was the top five results. Imagine what kind of impact that could have on your recruiting.

2) To build relationships with your prospects.
If your blog starts generating strong search rankings, and your content provides real value to the drivers who read it, you’re building the kind of relationships that can lead to quality hires.

3) To strengthen bonds with your existing drivers.
That’s assuming, of course, your drivers read the posts. If they’re not, you need to work on the content.

4) To strengthen your company brand.
Enough said? If not, see article links below.

5) To echo themes and messages in your Paid advertising.
Make no mistake: Your best job boards will still be an important part of your marketing mix. However, executed properly, a Content Marketing campaign can become an increasingly significant part of that mix.

FOR FURTHER READING
What’s Brand Got To Do With Truck Driver Recruiting? Everything.
Driver Recruiting Ads Should Focus On What Matters To Truckers
When Online Complaints Impact Your Truck Driver Recruiting
Improve Truck Driver Recruiting by Surveying Your Drivers

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