Five Steps For Recruiting Owner Operator Truck Drivers

One great way to recruit owner operators is to help company drivers become owner operators.

At the very least, you can offer interested drivers solid direction for doing it themselves.

It’s no secret that CSA2010 has been especially tough on owner operators. But it’s going to take a lot more than arbitrary government regulations to stifle the entrepreneurial spirit. And by positioning your company as a valuable information source for making the leap, you’re bound to reap long-term rewards in your recruiting efforts.

The TruckersReport.com has published an in-depth article detailing six critical steps for drivers to transition into successful owner operators—five of which struck me as relevant insights for recruiters. Here are the highlights:

1) Personal Assessment
Drivers should first take a good, hard look at their work ethic, habits and personal situations, including:

  • Driving preferences. Especially where long-haul assignments are concerned.
  • Importance of hometime vs. extra earnings.
  • Health considerations and insurance needs.
  • Short- and long-term career goals.

2) Financial Considerations
Finances are a critical component to success for owner operators. In addition to credit strength, financial considerations include:

  • Ability to create, and live within, personal budgets.
  • Existing debt.
  • Establishing emergency funds.
  • Carrying disability insurance.

3) Going Independent, Or Leasing To A Company?
Naturally, you want drivers interested in leasing to your company. At the same time, by offering candidates all the pros and cons of both options, you’re establishing yourself as a reliable, honest source of information—while, at the same time, weeding-out the candidates who wouldn’t be likely to stick with you.

4) Equipment Considerations
Lots of drivers love the sleek looks and the classic styling of a long-nosed Peterbilt or KW. But can they afford to look good at the expense of profitability and fuel economy?

5) Legal & Accounting
Owner/operators have to choose a business structure for to plan for taxes. Which means they’ll need qualified professionals who can provide sound business advice and support.

It’s Not Just About The Money.
Sure the money can be better, but the appeal of being one’s own boss is as strong as it ever was. If you can help good drivers channel that timeless desire, chances are pretty good you can also create good, loyal drivers likely to stick with you through thick and thin. Especially if you’re willing to go the extra step to help-out in some of the critical areas—like financing and credit.

Click here to read the original article in its entirety.


How NOT To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers (Part 1)

Truck Driver in Semi Truck

Six Tips From Three Experts

It’s no secret that recruiting Owner Operators is harder than ever. By some industry estimates, the total number of Owner Operators in the market is 1/3 what it was just before the recession began in 2008.

Not only that, says CareersInGear.com’s Carol Gibson, Owner Operators are less likely to switch companies now than they were just last year. “Freight’s good for Owner Operators now, so why would they leave—particularly if they’re with companies who took care of them when freight was down?”

Which made me think that now might be a good time to ask a few experts (including yours truly) for specific lessons they’ve learned—either from others, or from experience—in recruiting Owner Operators over the years.

FRANCIS HARE TalkingTruckers.com

1)  Don’t underestimate the challenge. You have to invest more to attract Owner Operators than you do to recruit Company Drivers. Particularly if you’re just now entering the Owner Operator market. That starts with developing a powerful brand message that sets you apart from the competition. A message that’s communicated consistently, from your print and online ads to the “talking points” your recruiters use during telephone interviews.

If your brand isn’t well-established, the only way to overcome that disadvantage in the short term is with a truly superior offer, IE: Significantly higher pay or sign-on bonuses; or maybe an especially competitive Lease Purchase program. And don’t even think about recruiting Owner Operators without a solid referral program.

2)  Don’t change your message in mid-stream. One of the most important reasons to think through your messaging strategy is because it takes time to establish that message in the market.

Common ad-world wisdom holds that someone has to see your message three times before it sinks in—so if you change your message, it’s like starting over from scratch. Particularly with online job boards—where every content change drops you down the queue in maximizing your job posts’ prominence on the web, and frequent changes will pretty much keep you stuck at the back of the line.

Bottom line: Develop a strong selling message and offer. Then give it enough time to start working. And don’t panic if it doesn’t generate immediate results. You’ll only make the situation worse.

JEFF GRAY Randall Reilly

3)  Don’t limit your advertising to one medium. Different generations access information differently. While there’s been a decided movement in spending toward online job boards, Gray notes that the truck driving population is aging. “The youngest Boomers will be 50 by the end of 2014, and studies clearly indicate that older drivers (who are typically not computer savvy) are much more apt to seek job info from print sources.”

4)  Don’t under-spend on your ad budget. Gray notes that when Randall launched the Owner Operator Network in 2011, the company committed a huge investment in search advertising to reach Owner Operators. “And remember,” Gray says, “that was two years ago, when the pool of Owner Operators was larger than it is now.”

CLAIBORNE CROMMELIN Baggett Transportation

5)  Don’t “sell”. More importantly, don’t over-sell. No company is right for every driver, says Commelin—so it’s important to determine first if there’s a good match between a prospect and your company. “If you try to make an opportunity sound better than it really is, or if you try to place a driver in a position he won’t like, you’ll end-up losing that driver. And you’ll probably hurt your reputation in the process.”

6)  Don’t expect to hire drivers on the first call. Hiring Owner Operators is like any business sales cycle, Crommelin notes: It takes multiple contacts. “It’s a process of building a relationship, and mutual trust—and that takes time.” Conversely, Crommelin cautions against hiring drivers who are ready to start work with you immediately. “Whenever we hear from a caller like that, a red flag goes up. And we almost always find-out there’s a good reason we were suspicious in the first place.” 


How NOT To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers (Part 2)

Truck Driver Recruiting: Four Tips For Boosting Referrals

Blogging: The Future Of Online Truck Driver Recruiting?

Recruiting Truck Drivers With Craigslist (And Brand Power)

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How NOT To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers – Six Tips

Truck Driver in Semi TruckSix More Tips From Three More Experts

If there’s one thing I’ve heard at MATS in recent years, 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:

MEG LARCINESE Target Media Partners

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.


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.

MARTHA HARE 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.


How NOT To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers (Part 1)

Five Steps For Recruiting Owner Operator Truck Drivers

Better Branding Maximizes Truck Driver Recruiting Effectiveness

4 Ways Oakley Maximizes Driver Recruiting And Retention

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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.

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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Randolph Rochelle: Oakley Trucking’s Advantage In Recruiting Black Truck Drivers

The trucking industry’s percentage of African American drivers is almost the same as the general population—which is one reason why your recruiting should reflect that level of diversity.

If you asked me, this isn’t a race issue at all; it’s human nature: People tend to connect more easily with people similar to themselves.

Statistics tell us that the trucking industry’s percentage of black truck drivers is remarkably similar to the population as a whole—so we can reasonably conclude that the reality of industry diversity is far from any stereotypes the general population may have about truckers being overwhelmingly white.

According to a 2005 article published by the American Trucking Associations, African Americans represent 11.7 percent of long-haul drivers. Whereas the US Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2009, reported that black citizens made up 12.9 percent of the total U.S. population.

And yet, out of all the fine trucking companies I’ve known over the years, and of all the good people I’ve known in recruiting, I can count the number black recruiters I know on two fingers. One of whom is Oakley Trucking’s Randolph Rochelle.

This naturally led me to conclude that Randolph gives Oakley a decided advantage when it comes to recruiting black drivers—again, based simply on human nature. I was curious if Randolph felt the same way. He agreed that, all other things being equal, his background often did give Oakley an advantage over other carriers in competing for good black candidates.

“Since we have a lot of life and cultural experiences in common, that can make it easier for me to start a real dialogue with black drivers. You might say we speak the same language. And if there’s one thing that’s important to all drivers, no matter who they are, it’s working with people who understand where they’re coming from.”

“At the same time,” Randolph is quick to point out, “I feel like I can relate to just about anybody—no matter who they are.” He certainly brings a broad range of experience to any conversation with prospective drivers: During his 20-plus years with Oakley, Randall’s served the company in a number of capacities—ranging from Owner Operator to Manager of one of the company’s ports.

In the final analysis, successfully recruiting any truck driver starts the same way: With good communication.

So does that mean your next Recruiting Department hire should be African American, for no other reason than the color of his or her skin? Of course not.

On the other hand, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ensure that your recruiting materials and messaging reflect the diversity level of your driver workforce. But as I’ve indicated elsewhere in this space, whatever you do in that area has to be genuine. Otherwise, it’s ultimately going to feel either crass and calculated or “politically correct”. And these days, folks can spot phonies a mile away. No matter what color they are.

Get your company profiled in an article! Just send me an email outlining any recruiting and/or retention issues you deal with. CLICK HERE for contact info.

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Five Steps For Recruiting Owner Operator Truck Drivers
Better Branding Maximizes Truck Driver Recruiting Effectiveness

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Recruiting Truck Drivers With Craigslist (And Brand Power)

111How A Modest Campaign Surpassed All Expectations.

A couple years ago, our agency (which specializes in Craigslist recruitment advertising), was hired by a national 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 our Craigslist campaign (after we’d posted ads in just two cities), the company was already receiving dozens of responses.

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

But I believe the client 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
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.


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