Recruiting owner operators to your carrier is a much different experience than recruiting company drivers. Owner operators have different values and personality traits than set them apart from most company drivers. They’re more independent, entrepreneurial-minded, and adventurous. Therefore, recruiting owner operators to your company is a whole different ball game from recruiting company drivers.
So, why do carriers hire owner operators? the benefits include not having the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining the trucks. With the average price of semi trucks still very high, this benefit can’t be overlooked. Owner operators are also often more experienced drivers with better safety records.
The one big drawback of recruiting owner operators is that they’re much more expensive to hire, with the average salary around $140,000 per year. That being said, hiring owner operators is still the best option for some carriers, depending on their situation. Here are three tips for recruiting owner operators to your fleet.
1. Reach Them Where They Are
To recruit the best drivers, you have to reach them where they are. This applies when recruiting owner operators as well. Just because you’ve been finding success reaching company drivers through certain mediums, doesn’t mean that will translate when hiring owner operators.
According to the Overdrive 2020 Connectivity Study, owner operators lean more towards consuming printed magazines while company drivers prefer email newsletters. Shifting your advertising towards printed media outlets will likely help you reach more owner operators.
There are of course other ways to reach owner operators as well. Truck drivers by large are all over social media. That same study showed that owner operators use Facebook just as much as company drivers do. Complement print ads with a mix of social media ads and platforms such as job boards, e-newsletters, and online forums, including trucking groups on Facebook.
Aside from ads, having a strong referral program is another great way to bring in owner operators. It’s no secret that drivers are more likely to trust what they hear about a company if it comes from other truck drivers as opposed to recruiters and human resources people. This is true as well for owner operators, which is why having a referral program in place can help spread the word about your company to owner operators looking for a new company to sign on with.
2. Be Patient and Ready to Negotiate
Once you’ve found them, the recruitment process for owner operators will be slightly trickier than it is for company drivers. Don’t be surprised if it takes a bit longer as well.
For owner operators, the recruitment process isn’t a job offer between employer and employee. It’s a business transaction between partners.
While it is usually good to recruit sooner rather than later, you’ll want to take your time a bit more with owner operators. Get to know what job factors will be important to them. If there’s a certain sticking point, like home time, pay, or discounts, let them know that you can work on it and get back to them. There may be more negotiation and compromise required on the company’s part when working with owner operators.
If it doesn’t work out, make sure you part on good terms with the driver so that it doesn’t affect company reputation adversely. Plus, it’s always good to build relationships with drivers even when it’s not a great fit at the time. This way, you still have the option to connect later down the road.
3. Be Honest, Consistent and Predictable
Being honest and straightforward during the recruitment process is important for all candidates, but especially for owner operators. These entrepreneurs are making a big decision to work with your company and need to be confident about that choice.
There are few things that will irk owner operators more than a recruiter changing their messaging during the process. There shouldn’t be one message from the company during the initial advertising, something different during a recruitment call, and something else entirely during the meeting. If they sense they’re not getting all the facts or missing something, they’ll quickly move on to the next opportunity.
In addition to building distrust with the owner operator, it can also create a negative reputation which will find its way to other drivers as well.
While it’s acceptable to improve or negotiate the terms during the recruitment process, it shouldn’t be acceptable for recruiters to go back on something that was previously promised.
Once drivers are onboarded, predictability will also be valued on the job. Owner operators are more independent minded than the average company driver and will be less adaptable to changing work conditions from the company. They want to have the freedom of working when they want and being able to choose the loads they prefer, which is why they became owner operators in the first place.
Owner operators can be an attractive option for trucking companies to pursue. When it comes to recruiting them for your company, knowing what they have in common and where they differ from company drivers is the best way to bring them on board. Keep in mind these three tips and you’ll be bringing owner operators into your company in no time.