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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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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.

FOR FURTHER READING
Truck Driver Recruiting: Look To The Military For Superior Candidates
Recruiting and Retaining Women Truckers Means Understanding Their Needs
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
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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7 Tips For Recruiting Truck Drivers Through LinkedIn

Implementing a LinkedIn strategy now can pay long-term dividends in your driver recruiting efforts. Particularly if you’re looking to recruit younger drivers.

It’s been a couple years since I originally published this post. Since then, the results you can get from a LinkedIn search for “Truck Driver” have increased from under 20,000 to just over 127,000.  Granted, that number is  a drop in the bucket compared to LinkedIn’s reported worldwide membership (238 million as of October 3)—but it’s clear that drivers are catching on. Particularly younger drivers—who are, obviously, much more savvy Social Media users than their elders. All of which is why I figured it was time to update this post.

The first three tips below come from LinkedIn veteran Tim Giehll. The last four are mine.

1) Create a strong company and career page on LinkedIn.
Make sure your company profile is up to date, informative and compelling. Make your job postings rich with keywords. This will help job seekers find you more easily.

2) Search for candidates via keywords and employers.
Smart LinkedIn candidates will have keyword-rich profiles and detailed employment histories—so that they will be found by recruiters like you.

3) Consider one of LinkedIn’s paid services.
These include: LinkedIn ads. The LinkedIn Referral Engine. LinkedIn Recruitment Insights. And LinkedIn Recruiter, a powerful search engine specifically designed to help recruiters locate and communicate with candidates.

4) Join as many LinkedIn groups as you can.
Then plan a strategy for posting relevant content to those groups. I underlined relevant, because the same message may not be appropriate to every group. Some groups (like Logistics Manager Jobs) are pretty close to online job boards—where lots of members post job openings. Others (like Driver Retention Network) are forums for sharing ideas and content, not sales pitches. Groups like that might not yield direct results in hiring, but can certainly contribute to your overall strength as a recruiter.

5) Publish your own content.
If your company hasn’t at least started talking about Content Marketing, using (for starters) a company blog, it’s time. Expect a post on that topic soon.

6) Build your network of contacts.
There are any number of theories about who should be in your LinkedIn connections. I tend to avoid connecting with direct competitors—whereas my good friend Scott Simon (who had 29,999 connections on the day I re-published this post) credits much of his considerable success in recent years to his policy of connecting with anyone and everyone.

7) Send personal messages with your invitations.
Personally, I think FAR less of LinkedIn invitations from total strangers who don’t even bother to explain why they chose to send an invitation. At times, it strikes me as borderline Spam. So take the time to write something—and use invitees’ names in your message. You’ll get a much higher rate of acceptance.

All that said, don’t expect instant results. Like all Social Media, LinkedIn isn’t a panacea solution for recruiting. It’s just one part of the puzzle—but clearly, it’s becoming a bigger part every day.

CEO of Global Recruiting Software manufacturer Bond Talent, Tim Giehll has 25 years of financial, operational, and technology management experience in large companies such as Manpower.

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How TMC Successfully Recruits and Retains Student Drivers

1
Four Steps For Building Your Own Program

TMC Transportation has been recruiting student drivers since 1993. Which makes the Des Moines-based carrier fairly unique among flatbed companies—who tend to demand more experienced drivers. “What we want,” says TMC’s VP/Recruiting Duane Boswell, “is drivers who do the job right. And in our experience, it’s usually better to hire less experienced drivers and train them to do things the way we want them done, than it is to try and get people to change old habits.”

 So how does TMC maintain a fleet with hundreds of drivers, 70% of whom are coming from driving schools?


1. They Center Their Culture Around Student Recruiting.

Lately, a lot of companies have added students to their overall recruiting mix. TMC is committed to hiring students—and has been for over 20 years. “Our entire company culture is built around recruiting quality student drivers, and developing them into quality experienced drivers. We have high standards for the students we hire. We offer new drivers better pay opportunities by rewarding performance over seniority. And we give student graduates real opportunities to develop rewarding careers with us”

That strategy has clearly paid-off, where TMC’s reputation at CDL schools is concerned. “For starters, they know we’re going to treat their graduates right. In practical terms, that means the people they send us will stay longer and be in a better position to pay-off their student loans.”


2. They Reward Performance. Not Just Seniority.

The most ambitious CDL graduates genuinely thrive with TMC, because they get the opportunity to make great money even during their first year. “We’ve had some real go-getters who’ve earned as much as $60,000 in their first year with us, by focusing on the performance incentives we offer.”


3. They Make “Home Weekends” More Than A Promise.

It’s no secret home time is one of the toughest issues in recruiting drivers. Which is why TMC has also made that a cornerstone of its culture. “Sure, there will always be the unforeseen circumstance that keeps a driver from getting home. But drivers who live in our core hiring area are home at least 46 out of 52 weekends a year.”


4. They Pay Attention To The Little Things.

Quality Pay and Home Weekends is still no guarantee you’re going to keep that recent graduate. After all, Boswell notes, “There are plenty of companies out there poaching those new drivers once they have a few months of experience under their belt.”

 Which is one reason why, for instance, I’ve personally heard first-hand reports of CDL-grad turnover rates as high as 180% at some companies. “Our turnover is about 1/3 of that. And a big reason is because we train our staff to do the little things that keep drivers happy. Things as simple as showing real interest in them as people, and genuine appreciation for the job they do.”

Bottom line: There’s no magic formula for successfully hiring and retaining quality drivers. Like anything good in this world, it takes hard work and dedication.

For Further Reading:

How Con-way Recruits Young Truck Drivers With Apprenticeships

Truck Driver Recruiting: Look To The Military For Superior Candidates

4 Ways Oakley Maximizes Driver Recruiting AND Retention

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4 Ways Oakley Maximizes Driver Recruiting AND Retention

Tips for improving communications effectiveness.

Little Rock-based Oakley Trucking maintains a turnover rate less than 1/3 the current industry average for fleets the American Trucking Associations categorize as “large” (above $30 million in revenue). How? Pretty simple, actually. “You’ve got to take care of the ones you have before you go get more,” says Oakley recruiting director Jeremy Kellett.

“After all, our drivers have always been our best recruiters—and a happy crew means more referrals.” On the other hand, “If you don’t take care of them, they can hurt you, and your reputation. Not only among other drivers, but with your customers.”

1) Be Honest.
“Dry bulk hauling is harder work than a lot of trucking jobs,” Kellett continues. “It can be dirty and hot. Our Owner Operators have to learn fairly technical loading and unloading techniques. And they have to invest in specialized equipment for their trucks when they lease-on with us.

“So if anything, we make the job sound even harder than it is during our recruiting conversations. That way there are no unpleasant surprises. Once we get drivers in here, we take very good care of them.”

2) Be Consistent.
Kellett will tell you that the toughest part of effective communications is ensuring that every department is on the same page. With every load. For example: “We give drivers specific training guidelines regarding optimal pressure for unloading. But we have customers whose silos can’t handle that kind of pressure. If a dispatcher neglects to clearly communicate one of those customer’s specific requirements, the driver and the company ends-up looking bad.

“It doesn’t take many bad experiences like that to get a driver thinking he’d be better off working somewhere else. That’s why we’re constantly reminding each other to give drivers all the information they need.

“It’s also why we encourage drivers, from their first day of orientation, to call their recruiter if they’re having communication problems with their dispatchers.” In fact, Kellett notes, “our recruiters probably spend as much time talking with existing drivers as we do with prospects.”

3) Listen. Really Listen.
Ask any driver what they like about Oakley, and they’ll inevitably mention the Open Door policy. “If I need to do, I can talk to anybody in this company,” says Andy Keesling “And that includes Dennis Oakley (CEO).” Antoinette Calder, one of two women in the company’s Sand division, agrees. “Oakley believes in their drivers. They’ll listen to you. And they always tell you the truth.”

4) Set The Bar High.
“The big thing we focus on,” Kellett says, “is helping our Owner Operators do well in their business. Sometimes that means praise and encouragement. But sometimes that means pushing a little harder. If a guy calls in to say he’s going home after a light week, his dispatcher is going to make it clear that he’ll be looking at a small paycheck next week.

“Drivers don’t always like to hear that, but we know they really won’t like hearing what their wives have to say when they’re sitting down to pay bills. And there’s no quicker way to lose a driver than to make his wife mad.”

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Crete’s Healthy Approach To Truck Driver Recruiting & Retention

1Crete Carrier Corporation’s Sleep Apnea and Wellness program is paying solid dividends in word of mouth among drivers.

Tim Aschoff, Vice President of Risk Management for The Lincoln, Nebraska-based carrier, estimates his company will invest roughly $1.5 million in the program during its first two years. “We’ve always said that our drivers are Crete’s most valuable asset,” says Aschoff, “and we’ve always stood behind those words, by investing in them. Not just with better pay, but with better benefits as well. We see this program as an excellent extension of those benefits.”

Improving ROI While Reducing Turnover.
“From a business perspective, we believe the program will ultimately deliver a return on our investment. We’ve received consistenty solid feedback from drivers who’ve gone through the program. And keeping drivers happy reduces turnover. At the same time, by positively impacting driver health, we’re reducing our healthcare costs. And theirs.”

Generating Positive Publicity. And Early Success.
Driver Health Magazine labeled Crete’s initiative “one of the most effective health and wellness programs in the trucking industry.” One reason for its success: An effective communications campaign. “Before the program’s rollout,” Aschoff says, “we worked long and hard developing informative messages for our drivers—explaining exactly what the program was, and how it could help them.”

Now, any driver interested in the program can visit (free of charge) any number of locations for sleep disorder testing. In addition to its permanent Sleep Labs in Dallas or Salt Lake City, Crete’s strategic partner, Sleep Pointe, operates a number of mobile trailers at company terminals. If a sleep disorder is indeed diagnosed, Sleep Pointe will work with the driver to develop a specifically tailored program of treatment.

Growing Word Of Mouth.
While the program was initially met with some skepticism, it’s caught on. In its first eight months alone, the program (launched in 2010) treated 465 drivers. An impressive number, to be sure, but even more rewarding are the individual success stories Aschoff is hearing.

“I had one driver call me personally to tell me he’d lost 40 pounds, that he felt better than he had in years, and that he never would have done it in the first place if it hadn’t been for our program.” No wonder Aschoff himself is sleeping better these days.

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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Recruiting & Retaining Women Truck Drivers Starts with Honesty.

Desiree Wood

Understanding how to effectively recruit and retain women truck drivers could literally put an end to your company’s driver shortage.

Any company focusing the tone and approach of its recruiting efforts squarely on male truckers is losing-out on an opportunity that’s never been more valuable than it is today. For starters, the majority of all truck driving teams are already husband / wife—or some variation of a male / female partnership.

Secondly, as any honest husband can tell you, the wife is usually the one who handles the business end of a truck driving team. And any college football recruiter worth his salt can tell you: The best way to sign nearly any player is by starting with Mama. Cuz if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.

Clearly, a lot of people are already waking-up to that reality. California-based Desiree Wood, publisher of the REAL Women in Trucking blog, has (as of June, 2011) nearly 2400 Facebook fans and over 7800 Twitter followers.

In a recent post, Desiree addressed the first important lesson in recruiting women: Full disclosure.

Recruiting in a post-CSA2010 world
The federal government’s new safety program, has already eliminated countless low-scoring drivers from the employment pool. That means employment recruiters need to do their homework and find out what makes a female job candidate choose one carrier over another.

Huge growth potential
Women drivers currently comprise only 5% to 6% of the driving population. Unfortunately, few woman drivers are able to withstand the manner in which their training is conducted. And those who do realize quickly that recruiters often ignore the significant drawbacks for women.

Attention recruiters: GET REAL.
It’s one thing to recruit women drivers. But if you want to retain them, you have to be honest: Explain the hardships inherent in navigating 80,000 pounds of metal through congested traffic, the danger of sleeping in the cab at unpoliced truck stops, and the sheer inconvenience of not being able to shower every day. Downplaying those things increases driver turnover when the truth hits home.

That is not to say that Pretty Girls cannot drive a big rig. But trucking is still very much like the Wild West—which is why the unsupervised nature of the work presents personal safety issues that must not be glossed over.

So if you want to attract, and keep, women drivers, tell the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth. Women drivers will respond to that. More importantly, they’ll respect you. And earning respect is the first step toward retaining those drivers.

For Further Reading:
Recruiting & Retaining Women Truckers Means Understanding Their Needs
Improve Truck Driver Recruiting By Listening To Your Drivers
Truck Driver Recruiting: Speaking To The Wives

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

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? If you’re not getting results from PPC, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s as simple as that: Properly implemented, PPC can be one of the most cost-effective weapons in your recruiting arsenal. Here are five tips for making a PPC investment pay:

1) Budget Wisely
In one sense, PPC is a lot like traditional media advertising: The best campaigns have a good balance between reach and frequency.

In radio & TV terms, that means hitting the right people enough times in a relatively short period to get your message seen or heard and remembered. In PPC terms, that means planning your campaign so that you don’t blow your entire budget in an hour or two every day.

2) Choose Your Keywords Carefully
PPC’s greatest strength is its ability to zero-in on the very prospects you’re seeking—and the more accurately you target prospects with your keywords, the likelier you are to get qualified responses.

Just as important, notes Carlton Smith of Flagstone Search Marketing, is effectively representing those keywords in your ad copy. “Represent your keywords poorly, and Google charges you a higher rate. It’s part of the Google Adwords algorithm known as your Quality Score.”

3) Geo-Target Accurately
Another PPC advantage over traditional recruiting media (like most printed magazines) is that you can specifically target the regions you’re recruiting. But again, notes Smith, “if you’re trying to recruit drivers in a specific area, it’s not enough simply to target searches in that area. You also need to represent the area well in your keywords.”

4) Use Landing Pages Judiciously
Hare Communications Account Executive Martha Hare puts it this way: “If you aren’t using landing pages, and mobile-optimizing those pages, don’t expect optimal results.” Smith adds, “You’ll also do a lot better if you have multiple landing pages representing multiple campaigns.”

In short, when it comes to Landing Pages, one size does not fit all.

5) Hire A Professional
Why? For starters, managing an effective PPC campaign is highly time-intensive; particularly if you aren’t highly experienced. And there are far better ways for recruiters to spend their time (like actually recruiting, for instance).

For the best PPC results, look for someone who’s Google Certified. Then ask them to talk about how they manage their campaigns. If they don’t make a point of emphasizing how important sheer diligence and consistency are, you probably don’t want them.

“Part of being diligent,” says Smith, “is constantly refining your Keywords: Weeding out terms that match you to irrelevant queries. At the same time, PPC Best Practices are constantly changing. I honestly learn something new almost every day.”

As should we all!

FOR FURTHER READING:
In Truck Driver Recruiting, Print Advertising Is Alive And Well.
Towne Air Takes Driver Recruiting Into The Here And Now
Better Branding Maximizes Truck Driver Recruiting