If there’s one thing I heard at MATS this year, it’s that recruiting Owner Operators is tough as it’s ever been. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, as I noted in my first post on the topic, the total number of Owner Operators in the market is (by some estimates) 1/3 what it was just before the recession began in 2008.
Which is why, more than ever, it’s important to avoid the mistakes that can make or break an Owner Operator’s decision to join your company. And why I received enough responses to one simple question (“What are the common mistakes you’ve either made yourself, or seen others make?”) to fill two posts.
Which leads to our second six tips:
CAROL GIBSON CareersInGear.com
1) Don’t ask for Social Security Numbers online. In this age of Identity Theft, Gibson notes, people are constantly being warned not to give-out their Social Security numbers—particularly online. “Asking for that information on your job app will automatically run-off a significant percentage of prospects.”
2) Don’t make your only application a long one. Owner Operators know they’re in great demand. And, Gibson notes, they’re typically pressed for time. “Think about it: If a driver’s looking to make a switch, how likely is he to take the time to fill-out a 10 to 15 page app (much less several), when he can answer a few key questions in a short form?” The point is to facilitate contact, because what you really want to do is get a driver on the phone.
JAMIE ADCOCK Target Media Partners
3) Don’t focus on pre-qualifying drivers. Too many recruiters, Adcock notes, are pressured to fill seats—rather than focusing on driver-prospect needs. “Retention is just as important to your numbers as recruiting. So by focusing on making quality hires, you’re ultimately building quantity.”
4) Don’t overlook “the little things”. Again, Owner Operators are busy. So anything you can do to make it easier to switch from their current company—from helping fill-out their paperwork to buying their plates—increases your chances of success. And, it goes without saying, doing the so-called “little things” (like offering annual hire-date recognition and rewards) can make all the difference in retention.
ERIN WHALEY Hare Communications
5) Don’t rush the hiring process. The hiring Life Cycle for an Owner Operator is a relationship-building process that usually takes weeks, even months. Good recruiters understand that, and avoid pushing drivers to make on-the-spot decisions during initial conversations. That tactic scares-off a lot more Owner Operators than it attracts.
6) Don’t make vague promises. Owner Operators are reflexively skeptical of companies—because nearly every driver will tell you he’s been burned in the past. So be upfront with the details—starting with your advertising. Make your ads and job postings specific—particularly where pay, home time and miles are concerned. And don’t be afraid to admit, during conversation, that your company isn’t perfect. Nobody is. The best Owner Operators know that. They’ll respect you for being honest. And earning a driver’s respect is the first big step toward a successful hire.
FOR FURTHER READING: