Why You Need Workforce Planning in Trucking

Workforce Planning is the process of analyzing your current workforce against the business needs of the future to make sure you have the right people in place to meet those needs. This is a high-level recruiting and retention strategy used by companies across the globe to make sure their workforce will actively help the company achieve its long-term goals.  

While Workforce Planning is valuable for all companies, it is becoming increasingly important for companies in the trucking industry, where issues related to recruiting and retention are becoming more apparent 

5 Steps for Workforce Planning Success 

1. Determine Business Goals

The first step in Workforce Planning is to determine the overall business needs of your company. This is usually the biggest step, as it involves working with key decision makers in your organization to nail down both the short- and long-term goals.  

These goals could be anything from an X% increase in growth, providing a better customer experience, or maintaining key people in management positions. Workforce Planning can help achieve them all.  

2. Evaluate Your Current Workforce

The next step is to take an in-depth look at your current talent to predict what issues you may run into in the future. What are the strengths of your team? What are the weaknesses? 

A problem many trucking companies are facing right now is the age of their drivers. If the majority of drivers are reaching retirement age, that’s a sign that you should begin planning to avoid staffing issues in the future. 

Leah Shaver

Leah Shaver, President of National Transportation Institute

On a recent episode of the Recruit & Retain: Trucking Edition podcast, Leah Shaver, President of The National Transportation Institute, shared her perspective on the subject. 

“When we do a pay study with a company, we do ask for demographic information. We look at age, we look at gender and turnover by location. Why? Because you want to monitor threats. Sometimes we’ve helped a company identify that they’re not diversified enough in their recruiting and retention process,” shared Leah. 

Another aspect of your workforce to analyze is diversity. Over the past decade, the trucking industry has seen an explosion in this area. In the past 5 years alone, the number of minority individuals in the trucking industry jumped from 26.6% to 40.4%. The increase in diversity in the trucking industry is almost as big as the positive impact diversity has on businesses that make it a priority. 

3. Plan

After analyzing your current workforce and identifying your goals, it’s time to make the two work together. This step involves identifying how exactly to get the ideal workforce that will help reach those business goals.  

Beth Potratz

Beth Potratz, CEO of Drive My Way

On that same episode of Recruit & Retain: Trucking Edition, Drive My Way’s CEO, Beth Potratz, shared about Workforce Planning. 

“This is planning out not only the goals of the business, but really looking at your fleet from a number of different perspectives to see how it can help accomplish those goals. What’s the age of your fleet? Will people be aging out in the next few years? What’s your turnover rate? Are there specific demographic segments we’re not looking at during recruitment? Overall, what are you seeing in your workforce and what can you glean from that data?” shared Beth. 

Maybe you recruit for a local delivery servicer that uses sprinter vans but are planning to add straight trucks to their fleet. Evaluating how this change will be executed from a workforce perspective is key. Will you spend all of your resources training your current drivers to get their CDL B certification? Or will you begin recruiting current CDL B drivers to drive the straight trucks while keeping your current workforce in the sprinter vans? These are all questions that will be answered in the planning stage. 

4. Implement

After completing the planning and research, it’s finally time to put your plan into action. This step is more of an ongoing process that could take weeks, months, or even years depending on the plan. While recruiting and retention efforts will be the brunt of the work here, marketing and training are also extremely valuable resources when it comes to Workforce Planning. 

5. Analyze the Results

Now that Workforce Planning has been implemented, the last thing to do is to see if it worked. This involves receiving feedback from recruiters and managers on how successful the plan has been. Were those business goals that were laid out in step one achieved? If they were, how did Workforce Planning play into it? This information needs to be quantified in order to show results to key decision makers. 

 

When it comes to Workforce Planning, the best practice is to view it as a cyclical process, as opposed to something you stop and start again and again. This way, instead of reacting to workforce shortages and issues as they occur, you’ll be working to avoid them entirely.  

In an industry with a turnover rate much higher than the national average, Workforce Planning is essential to make sure trucking companies are hiring drivers who will not only stay with companies long-term, but help meet their overall business goals as well. 

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

Trucking Truth with Alessandra Szul

Starting a trucking business isn’t easy. However, this didn’t stop Alessandra Szul, who saw an opportunity in the industry and started her own trucking company, Flatbush Freight Express, while still in her early twenties.

Started in 2018, Flatbush Freight Express is a female-owned and operated trucking company based in North Carolina.  Drive My Way’s CEO, Beth Potratz spoke with Alessandra about what she’s learned in her time in the trucking industry, how she tackles driver recruiting, and her advice for others looking to make the jump into starting their own trucking business. 

Q: What’s your background and how did you end up in the trucking industry?

I come from a very strong entrepreneurial background. 30 years ago, my mother and grandmother started the largest cosmetic company in the country of Venezuela. I saw the freedom you could have by owning your own business and kept that with me growing up. I ended up going to school for applied computer science and business, because I saw pursuing those fields as a good way to build a foundation that would help me transition into starting my own business.  

After earning my degree, I worked at a few different places in the technology industry. Last year my current partner at Flatbush introduced me to a friend who owned his own trucking company in North Carolina. He was kind enough to show us his books and my first thought was, “This is what I’ve been looking for. Why can’t I do this too?” 

Q: How was your first year in operation and what was your biggest lesson?

It’s been exciting and informative to say the least. Not coming from a background in trucking, there was a lot to learn, and I’m very grateful I have my partner to help me with everything.  

One big lesson I’ve learned is to make sure all my drivers have front-facing dashboard cameras. One of my drivers was involved in an accident earlier this past year. The towing company that arrived on the scene insisted that the truck needed to be towed away to their yard, but my very experienced driver felt that was unnecessary. The whole incident ended up costing us over $10,000 all-in-all before the towing company would release the truck back to us. That’s not to mention that the trailer was fully stocked at the time of the accident, so there was a delay in delivery as well. If we had just invested in a dash cam upfront, the whole issue could have been avoided.  

On a positive note, Flatbush has been able to grow from 2 to 4 trucks over the past year. Our goal for this next year is to make it to 10 trucks and go from there. We’re also looking to hire our own mechanic. Because as we learned, it’s not just the repairs themselves that cost money. It’s the loss of money from not having one of our trucks on the road that makes the biggest difference.  

Q: How does Flatbush Freight Express handle recruiting?

Having a strong recruiting pipeline is extremely important to us. Even if we’re not hiring, we make sure to be very active on Drive My Way. As a young company, having a constant online presence and making sure drivers know about us is vital to our growth. 

Aside from that, we focus on hiring the right driver, not just the first person. I made that mistake early on and it ended up costing us. That’s why we love hiring through Drive My Way. I was lucky enough to find a driver through Drive My Way who had a background in safety and compliance work for Ryder Logistics. It was the perfect match on both ends since our number one core value at Flatbush is safety.

Q: Not being able to have face-to-face time with your drivers must be difficult. How are you still able to build a relationship with them?

Aside from safety, building a strong relationship with our drivers is the most important thing for us. This has been more difficult with Covid, but, something I still actively try to do. For a lot of good reasons, many drivers are skeptical of company owners. That’s why I like to spend time talking with my drivers, building that trust between owner and employee. It’s taken some time, but I’ve gotten to the point where my drivers will reach out with comments and concerns or just to chat and send me something they find funny. It’s a great feeling and definitely contributes to the kind of culture we’re building at Flatbush.   

Q: What advice would you have for someone considering starting a trucking company?

Be honest with yourself if it’s something they can afford to do or not. It’s very easy to be put in a bad financial spot or even be out of business due to unforeseen circumstances. I would also recommend getting your CDL before anything else. Then saving up to buy one truck, and go from there. It’s much easier to find financing if you hold your CDL, even if you don’t plan on driving. And once you start earning money, a bank or financial institution will be much more likely to help you finance the second or third truck, so you don’t have to bootstrap it all alone.

Alessandra finished with these thoughts:

While everyone at Flatbush Freight Express has their role to play, without the drivers, there’s no business. That’s why I do everything possible to take care of my drivers and make them feel appreciated. They give up such a huge portion of their lives for this job, that it’s the least I can do. For anyone looking to get into this industry, make a point to treat your drivers like family. Do that and the rest will fall into place.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

Jason Crowell Custom Commodities Transport

The impact of 2020 is not finished. All of the repercussions are flowing through the supply chain, and it’s impacting manufacturing, the food system, and the labor shortage everywhere. Even though we are on the down swing of the virus itself, everyone is looking for a Truck Driver right now. Therefore, the job market is competitive, making it extremely hard on Driver Recruiters. Drive My Way’s CEO, Beth Potratz, spoke with Jason Crowell, Director of Recruiting at Custom Commodities Transport, and Jason shared his advice for staying motivated and recruiting for retention.

Q: What keeps you motivated as a Driver Recruiter?

A: Being a Truck Driver Recruiter can be a burn out job.  Each week, we Recruiters have the highest of hopes and often, we also have big letdowns in this unprecedented market. A Truck Driver is likely talking to 4 or 5 Recruiters at once in their job search, saying yes to one of them, and leaving the other recruiters hanging.  We call it “ghosting” and it’s on the rise, contributing to the Recruiter’s stress. The toughest part for today’s trucking company is finding and retaining qualified Drivers, putting incredible pressure on the Driver Recruiter because the success of the business often hinges on the Recruiter’s work. The recruiting office is getting more visits from the CEO than ever before. 

To keep myself motivated, I focus the positives. We know that what is happening in the market is cyclical. We are riding the best of economic times with more business than we can handle, and the gating factor is having the Drivers to do the work. With the executive team tuned in to the gravity of the recruiting need, it’s a great time introduce new and improved employer brand strategies, cutting edge recruitment advertising technology, and cool retention initiatives.

Q: Why is recruiting for retention so important now and always?

A:  The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse came online and eliminated tens of thousands of Drivers in the American workforce. Older Drivers are retiring at a faster rate since COVID-19, younger Drivers are not going into the trucking profession, and the Truck Driver schools were closed for a year. We recruit to retain because the nation-wide Driver shortage is only getting worse! America needs Truck Drivers. Retaining our brightest and best Drivers will make or break trucking companies over this next year.

Q: How do you combat pressure on Recruiters and how do you motivate them to rise to the challenge?

A: The state of the market has allowed Recruiting to have a seat at the Leadership table. Driver recruiting is no longer considered an admin function. We’re just as important as operations, safety, and sales.

To motivate our Recruiters, I like to share the bigger picture with our team. When our Recruiters know they serve a greater purpose and understand the vision of the organization, they can also communicate this to Drivers. All of a sudden, their job becomes more than just making calls and filling trucks. Recruiters are part of fulfilling a greater purpose.

Q: How do you incentivize Driver Recruiters?

A: Of course financial incentives are important, but we like to celebrate small wins and show appreciation for the work of Recruiters.  We’re trying to cultivate a culture of appreciation. If we meet our Recruiting KPIs for the week, that’s to be celebrated, not just with the recruiting team but also with the executive team. It’s important to have fun while we are working, so we share KPIs and headcount goals and get other departments involved.

Good Recruiters stay positive in nearly impossible situations, they find solutions, and they are tenacious and scrappy. It takes a unique personality to love the work, but for those of us who do, these are wild times. I’m having a blast!

Q: How much should a recruiter be selling the position vs listening to Drivers about their needs?

We never want a Recruiter to oversell the job to bring a Driver in under false pretenses. As a matter of fact, we share our “realistic job preview” to tell Driver candidates about the goods, the bads, and the uglies of the job.  Every candidate can’t fit into our jobs, and it’s the Recruiters’ job to help with that all-important selection. The Recruiter should really be listening to what the Driver wants and needs to identify if there is a mutual fit.

We’re working to provide our Recruiters with a library of Driver stories about every aspect of the job.  Recruiters can use these stories to demonstrate to the candidate how the company operates without reading bullet points from a script. We find that these stories are what stand out for the Driver in our recruiting process and that the stories are often what distinguishes our recruiter from some another company’s recruiter who may just be listing features and benefits.

Jason finished with these thoughts:

I must commend our executive team here at Custom Commodities Transport for being so open to new ideas.  We measure everything and use data to assure good decision-making, but this results-oriented team has shown that they value Drivers, understand the recruiting & retention challenge, and are willing to make big, bold moves to make Custom Commodities the benchmark that customers and competitors use to measure themselves.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

recruit for retention
Many companies, either intentionally or inadvertently, incentivize driver recruiters to prioritize hires above all else. In some cases, this is an effective short-term solution but often, it does not hold companies in good stead in the long run. Instead, recruit for retention. Lowering driver turnover can dramatically save recruiting costs because there are fewer drivers to replace. Strong driver retention also improves company culture and driver satisfaction. While they may occupy different line items on the budget, recruitment and retention are points along the same spectrum. In your fleet, take concrete steps to incentivize driver recruiters to recruit for retention.

Analyze Your Current Structure

truck driver recruiter

The first step to incentivizing driver recruiters to recruit for retention is to assess your existing program. Frequently, recruiters are incentivized for fast hires. Bonuses based on achieving a set number of hires in a specific time frame or rewards based purely on hiring numbers are just that. When recruiters are put under extremely tight deadlines, this exacerbates the problem. Recruiters are likely getting lots of drivers through the door, but that does not necessarily mean those drivers are highly qualified or likely to stay. 

In addition to analyzing the incentivization structure for recruiters, take time to observe several recruiting conversations. How are recruiters connecting with potential candidates? What questions are they asking drivers? Are they taking the time to understand what these drivers are looking for in a job? The personal touch of a driver recruiter can make a big difference in first impressions. Recruiting for retention may require retraining driver recruiters to approach conversations with candidates as relationship-building opportunities.

Change the Reward Target

Once you have a clear view of your existing recruitment incentivization structure, decide whether you are effectively prioritizing retention. If not, determine the necessary changes to make retention the goal. 

One of the most common ways to incentivize recruiters is through a rewards system. Rather than rewarding recruiters for hires, consider distributing rewards only for new drivers who stay at least 30 days. If you feel a longer time period is necessary, try 60 or 90 days. Drivers often leave because of unmet expectations. So, encouraging recruiters to prioritize retention necessitates that they vet drivers carefully and clearly communicate job expectations to reduce quick turnover.

Drivers often leave because of unmet expectations. Encourage recruiters to be candid and transparent to better recruit for retention.

To ensure follow-through from recruiters, consider asking for notes about each driver’s future plans. This requires recruiters to ask each driver about their long-term priorities as well as the immediate qualifications needed for the job. Remember, even though many companies incentivize recruiters with financial rewards, there are other options. Vacation time as well as internal or external recognition are also significant motivators for many recruiters!

Train Recruiters From the Start

trucking recruiter on phoneFrom the moment of onboarding, driver recruiters should be trained to look at recruiting as a long game. Explicitly tell recruiters that the company’s mission is to minimize turnover and maximize retention of quality drivers. Train everyone who works closely with drivers to recruit through conversations to foster strong relationships. This may be a change from previous jobs that focused exclusively on hires, so it’s important to continuously reinforce recruitment for retention in both words and actions. 

After you make any necessary changes to the incentivization structure and train drivers to recruit through conversations, you are ready to revamp your recruiting – almost! As you restructure incentives, make sure you are setting recruiters up for success. Even the best recruiters cannot boost driver retention for poor jobs.

Drivers want jobs that meet their financial and home time needs, are a good fit for their skills, and have a company culture of respect. Without these components, recruiters are fighting a losing battle. To incentivize driver recruiters for retention, change the reward targets, train recruiters to have conversations, and make compelling job offers. 

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

chelsee patton riverside transport

Becoming a trucking recruiter is a job that takes time to build up expertise. To be a top recruiter takes a combination of the right personality and a detailed understanding of the driver experience. Drive My Way customer Riverside Transport Inc. (RTI) is one of the companies that gets recruiting right. Drive My Way’s CEO, Beth Potratz, spoke with Chelsee Patton, Director of Recruiting at Riverside Transport Inc., who has her CDL and spent a year on the road. Chelsee elaborated on her driving experience at Riverside Transport and shared some trucking truths on recruiting for retention. 

Q: How did you get your CDL? 

A: I got my CDL through RTI’s Train Your Team program. I was learning to drive and learning to back and learning about all of the requirements to drive a truck while I was actually driving it. They put you in head first as far as the Train Your Team program! 

It runs a bit differently today because you have to have your CDL to be in that program. Nonetheless, I started running from Kansas City to Louisville and back on a Dedicated run. During that time, I would be trained on pre and post trip inspections, and we’d do backing exercises. I got to run freight and train to get my CDL, finally pass my test, and I got to blog that experience for Riverside. 

I did that right after I finished some schooling, but I had been in driver recruiting for some years before that, and I just feel very vested in the industry. I really care about the drivers and I have fun talking to them. I resonate with them. I think even more so now that I have my CDL, I understand what life is like out there on the road for them. 

Q: How did having your CDL and driving for a year, the experience out on the road, change your perspective as a recruiter?

ChelseeInPink

Chelsee, Director of Recruiting at RTI

A: As a recruiter in this industry, you have to gain the drivers’ trust. That’s the number one thing. I think that having my CDL and being in the driver’s seat allows me to do that much quicker and more effectively. 

It’s a great experience. When I’m talking to drivers and they mention something, I kind of throw it out there, and sometimes they catch on and sometimes it takes them a little bit to think, “Well, wait a minute…you have your CDL? You drove?” So, that’s really fun throwing that out there in some of the conversations that I have with potential drivers. 

Q: If you’re a recruiter and you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to get your CDL or don’t have that experience under your belt, what are some of the other things you can do to help learn about the industry and build rapport with the drivers?

A: One thing that you can potentially do, it’s going to be based on your company and their policies, is check and see if you have the opportunity to do a ride-a-long with a driver. Even if it’s just with a local driver for a day, spend some time there. That would be really cool. There’s also a lot of bloggers out there and so you can go and watch some of the trucker bloggers online and gain some insight there. 

When you’re talking with drivers, be inquisitive. If you really take the time to pay attention to what the drivers are saying and not try to rush them off the phone, you can gain some insight into what their life is like. 

The other thing that I would really encourage is when you’re talking with drivers, be inquisitive about the things that they’re saying. You really learn a lot through driver recruiting. It takes time. As a new person in the industry, it’s like, “What’s a dry van? What’s a fifth wheel?” but then you learn all those things, and if you really take the time to pay attention to what the drivers are saying and not try to rush them off the phone, you can gain some insight into what their life is like. 

Q: What tips would you give recruiters about effective interviewing? 

A: I would take a look internally at your current approach to recruiting and think about how different you can be versus what you’re doing today. What I really mean by that is, when you have a driver call you, and you are talking to that driver, listen to what you’re saying. Are you automatically going into, “How much experience do you have? How many tickets? How many accidents?” versus conversationally talking through all that with them. That’s something we recently got some really nice training on, and one thing I would definitely encourage is to qualify your drivers through conversation. 

Q: A parting question – when you think about the recruiting team and the culture you’re trying to build, what are some of the things that you and your team hear from drivers?

A: I would say I’m pretty proud of my team in that regard. Sometimes when drivers call the Riverside Transport recruiting line, they get surprised by the way the Riverside recruiters speak with them. We try to keep it very friendly and honest. We like our recruiting team to know as much information as possible and be willing and able to give that to the drivers. So, a lot of times, we’ll hear, “I’ve never had a recruiter be so nice” or “No one’s honest.” That’s definitely a truck driver recruiter stigma out therethat we’re all liarsso we’re definitely trying to change that and ultimately make sure that that driver feels valued and like they’re not being lied to. 

Beth finished the interview with these thoughts:

You really bring it back to the person and to their needs and to the relationship. And you even go so far as to really walk a mile in their shoes, or I should say, sit in the seat behind the wheel. We salute you and your team and all the innovative things that you’re doing, all of the commitment you’ve demonstrated to make a difference in the industry, and to help highlight that trucking is an industry that people can really join and enjoy. There’s a lot of fun to be had, and a lot of respect that’s been earned.

To hear more from Chelsee as the Director of Recruiting at Riverside Transport Inc., follow her on Instagram or Youtube as @ChelseeInPink.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

trucking endorsements
Drivers are looking for companies that respect them, offer compensation that is commensurate with experience and skill, and that fits their lifestyle and professional trajectory. In a highly competitive driver market, and it’s difficult to stand out from other trucking companies. It’s also essential. To attract drivers, some companies help drivers obtain or renew trucking endorsements as a way of differentiating themselves. While this may not work for all business models, it can be a great way to incentivize drivers to apply, diversify your candidate pool, and build goodwill among your new hires.

Paying for Trucking Endorsements?

truck in the cityUltimately, the decision to pay for trucking endorsements is a company by company decision. Factor in driver supply, the difficulty of the position you are hiring for, and the type of drivers you want to attract. For example, Button Transportation offers to reimburse drivers for their Hazmat endorsement if there is high seasonal demand. It’s a competitive market for hiring drivers right now, and companies that want to stand out need to go above and beyond. Paying for trucking endorsements is a way to incentivize driver applications by making your offering more appealing. 

Financially supporting drivers as they obtain or renew trucking endorsements is also a good way to diversify your candidate pool. Without offering financial support, your hiring pool is inherently limited to drivers who already have the requisite qualifications. If you are getting plenty of qualified applicants, that might not be a problem. On the other hand, you may want to invest in newer, skilled drivers to grow your fleet. In that case, sponsoring endorsements is a great way to attract drivers who might not otherwise apply. 

Implementing a Sponsorship Program

If you decide that helping with their trucking endorsements is right for you, use best practices to launch successfully. First, make sure you set clear rules and expectations for what will and will not be reimbursed. Drive My Way Customer Button Transportation sets an excellent example.

Button TransportationButton Transportation pays for driver Medical cards, TWIC Cards, and Passports because top interested drivers expect these to be sponsored by their company. Button also clearly established a reimbursement policy for drivers. For each sponsorship, they pay when they receive the expense report and receipt. 

Consistency is critical for successful program implementation. Everyone from recruiters to finance managers to prospective drivers should understand the structure of the program in a successful launch.

Once you set up your program parameters, communication with drivers is the next step. Offering to help drivers obtain or renew trucking endorsements is a powerful advertising tool! Make sure to include the details of your program in a job description. In addition, make sure your marketing efforts are targeted at drivers who already have the necessary endorsements as well as those who might take advantage of your sponsorship program. In addition, some companies like Way Routes encourage drivers to study for their double/triple endorsement using the CDL Prep App. This app is a great option because it is available for both Apple and Android users.

We spoke with Guilherme Ribeiro, President at Way Routes, and he shared that:

“[CDL Prep] is the best app and will help you study before taking the test at your local DMV.”

Both drivers who have the necessary endorsements and those preparing for the test may be strong candidates. So, it’s important to include both in your recruitment and marketing. 

Supporting Drivers with New Endorsements

Supporting drivers as they earn a trucking endorsement is only the start of the road. Strong sponsorship programs also support drivers as they transition to their new roles. 

Way RoutesWe spoke with Guilherme Ribeiro, President at Way Routes, and he shared best practices based on their program’s success:

“If a driver gets [a doubles/triples] endorsement and has not driven doubles/triples before, we have a training program to help them gain the confidence and knowledge they need to be successful.” 

He continued, “When a driver starts, we have them train with someone for a week before they hit the road for normal shifts. You will spend your first week: learning how to connect and disconnect safely in the yard, shadowing a driver on local routes, and running local routes during evening hours when there is less traffic (live road training).” Way Routes continues to support drivers throughout their transition.

Guilherme added, “If after your first week you do not feel safe or confident with your new endorsement, you have the option to part ways with this opportunity, and Way Routes is very respectful about your decision and is happy to have given you initial training. On the contrary, if you are feeling confident but would like an additional week (+/-) of shadowing/training, Way Routes is happy to continue investing in training for you so you feel safe and confident when you hit the road!” 

Supporting drivers through their new role ensures that new drivers meet your safety standards and it builds a good rapport with new drivers. For some companies, helping drivers obtain or renew trucking endorsements is a great way to bolster recruitment and retention efforts.

truck driver incentive program checklist

FREE RESOURCE

Truck Driver Incentive Program Checklist

The best incentive program is the one that’s effective, sustainable, and engaging for drivers. Use this checklist to align your target behavior with rewards that motivate your drivers and create a program with lasting impact.

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straight truck drivers
Hiring high-quality straight truck drivers is no easy feat right now. The demand for drivers is high, and the supply of drivers doesn’t match the current demand. That means that it’s a driver’s market, and companies must offer quality jobs that stand out to drivers to attract top talent. If you’re hiring straight truck drivers, these four tips will help you get the most out of every online or personal recruiting message.

1. Create Driver Personas

The first step to effectively hiring straight truck drivers is to know exactly who you are looking for. Driver personas are an opportunity to paint a picture of your ideal employees. What skills and endorsements do they have? Are there specific personality traits that are important to your jobs? Go beyond surface characteristics. Once you have a general idea of your ideal employees, consider what motivates these types of drivers.

As you develop your driver personas, study what makes straight truck drivers unique. Typically, straight truck drivers are looking for local work and regular home time. Many may have a family that they want to spend more time with. These drivers may not have a CDL A license. Their license type may give you insight into what kind of driving career that driver is looking for. A well-developed driver persona should clarify and direct recruiting efforts for hiring straight truck drivers.

2. Speak to Driver Priorities

Straight truck drivers are highly sought after right now. It’s a driver’s market, so companies need to make jobs appealing in order to stand out from the competition. Driver personas give insight into your ideal candidates, and this information is valuable. Use the insights on driver motivation and priorities to inform recruiting and marketing decisions. Driver priorities should be front and center in online marketing and advertising. In addition, these details can be part of recruiting conversations. Not all driver candidates will fit your profile, so take the time in recruiting conversations to ask a few questions about driver goals and priorities. Then, highlight how your available jobs are a good fit for that candidate.

It’s a driver’s market, so companies need to make jobs appealing in order to stand out from the competition.

When speaking with drivers, get them the information they care about quickly and succinctly. The driver personas can help guide the tone and content of your conversation, but the basics are still essential. Drivers want to know about compensation, home time, schedule, route, equipment, and customer interaction. Be specific when you share this information and give precise details on the job requirements. In job descriptions and recruiting conversations, include all required qualifications, skills, years of experience, and other prerequisites. This will help drivers self-select whether they fit your requirements and will save time for everyone involved.

3. Embrace Digital Recruiting

straight truck

Hiring straight truck drivers is a competitive challenge, and digital recruiting is a must. Many companies start with a basic website and social media channels because they are easy to set up and are typically free to start. That said, there are other online recruiting tools such as search engine optimized content marketing and job boards if you want to branch out. For any channels you choose, establish trackable metrics so you can determine which channels perform well.

Regardless of the channels that you utilize, a clear brand must help communicate your story. Be consistent in imagery and content tone across all platforms. Give drivers something they can recognize as distinct to your company. Photo and video content are powerful recruiting tools because they help drivers see themselves in the job. Many drivers are not job searching on a computer, so make sure all content is optimized for mobile. 

4. Support Driver Referral Programs

Driver referrals and word of mouth recruiting still reign as powerful recruiting methods. At the end of the day, nothing replaces a trusted source, and truck drivers trust other drivers. Referrals can be even more powerful in a local setting such as when hiring straight truck drivers because these truckers travel in the same circles. They are talking regularly and will be job searching in the same geographies. Word travels fast when companies have a distinctly positive or negative reputation, so make sure your drivers have good things to talk about!

Nothing replaces a trusted source, and truck drivers trust other drivers. Driver referrals are a powerful recruiting resource.

As a company, driver referrals, especially from top team members, help get other quality drivers in the door. A referral from a trusted source is a little extra confidence that interviewing the candidate will be worth your time.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

honest driver recruiter
Recruiters often have a poor reputation with drivers. Many drivers are likely to start by assuming that all recruiters are dishonest and trying to trick drivers. If you’re a recruiter, that’s a tough starting point. Driver concerns are valid, but they may not always have access to the complete picture. To be an honest driver recruiter, you must prioritize continuous transparency

The root of the recruiter and driver tension often stems from unmet expectations. Information changes quickly, and drivers may have unspoken expectations that aren’t met. This combination can leave drivers feeling like they’ve been duped. In conversations with drivers, it’s important to give accurate information that applies to that specific driver, but preparation for transparent conversations starts long before then. 

Connect Your Team

Honest mistakes happen frequently as a result of miscommunication. Imagine you are a recruiter. You are giving drivers standard information on pay, home time, and routes. The driver seems interested and you plan to talk again tomorrow. In the interim, someone made route changes to accommodate a new client without you realizing it. By the time you talk to the driver the next day, the route no longer comes close to the driver’s house and home time will be much tighter. The same driver who was excited yesterday is now frustrated that they got “bad information.” It’s all too easy for simple miscommunication to leave a bad taste for drivers.

Drive My Way Account Executive and former Hiring Manager, Kilie Erickson shared her views:

“I do not believe recruiters are dishonest, I do believe that recruiters could be limited to the information provided to them. If they do not take time to have a complete understanding of the business operations, culture, future goals, and current struggles they will mislead drivers not because they are dishonest, but uninformed.”

Erickson continues, “As a recruiter, if all you get is a piece of paper with pay, benefits, home-time, schedule, and a phone, you have some work to do. The best recruiters are given the ability to see all aspects of the business. They have spent time getting to know the operations and how each department interacts with each other and, most importantly, the drivers”

To be an honest driver recruiter, carve out time to regularly sit with safety, dispatch, and company management. While it is time-consuming, it’s imperative that recruiters understand all of the moving pieces and are up to date on job changes. The increase in internal transparency dramatically increases recruiters’ ability to provide external transparency. 

Know the Equipment

Once you get beyond pay and home time, equipment is often one of the top priorities for drivers. As a recruiter, you likely spend limited time personally with the equipment. That makes equipment a prime opening for miscommunication in recruitment conversations. On the other hand, a driver would be delighted to hear from a recruiter who can vouch for the equipment quality because they were out in the yard earlier this week and keep tabs on the maintenance records.

Drive My Way’s Kilie Erickson adds:

“I urge recruiters to look at the equipment- get inside! Don’t be afraid to tell drivers the good, bad and ugly about the job. Giving only positive information will leave the driver thinking ‘what are they not telling me’ or ‘this sounds too good.'”

If you are a veteran of the trucking industry, you know the ins and outs of what drivers care about when it comes to equipment. However, if you’re a new recruiter or have never spent meaningful time in a truck though, you may not have an intuitive sense of what drivers really want to know. The best way to gain a better perspective is to spend time with the drivers while they’re on the job. If you’re not on a CDL track, ask to do a ridealong with a driver for a day. Even a single day will give you insight into the open jobs and the people you’re recruiting. 

Tune in to Current Drivers

One of your best resources as a recruiter is current drivers. Some recruiters spend very little time with company drivers after they’ve signed on the dotted line. In reality, these drivers are a huge asset! Get feedback from current drivers. This can be done through brief formal surveys or informally and gatherings like a company cookout. In their eyes, what are the biggest perks of the job? What are the biggest challenges? Why do drivers stay with the company? Why do they leave? Keep this information in mind as you recruit new drivers. Make sure the job details you highlight align with the perspective of your current drivers.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

new driver recruiter
When you’re a new driver recruiter in the trucking industry, there’s a lot to learn. Depending on your background, you may know recruiting well but are learning a new industry. On the other hand, if you’re familiar with the trucking industry, you may be in a new role as a recruiter. In either case, you’re starting at a new company that has specific criteria for their drivers. The most successful new recruiters do three things when starting a new position: learn the company, learn the driver, and follow trucking recruiting best practices.

1. Learn Your Company

As a new driver recruiter, one of the best places to start is with your company. You will likely go through a company onboarding process, and this is a great opportunity to learn key statistics and any new technology systems you will use. This is the one time that you will effectively be able to see your company through the eyes of a driver candidate before you know the ins and outs of the job! Take advantage of this time and look for answers to specific questions a driver might have. 

Beth Potratz

Beth Potratz, CEO of Drive My Way

In a recent episode of his podcast, Recruit and Retain: Trucking Edition, recruiting guru Chad Hendricks asked Drive My Way CEO, Beth Potratz, how driver needs are changing. Potratz shared:  

“In 2021, we are seeing that drivers are truly researching and assessing an offering before they will even provide any little bit of information. They are done being asked to complete a full app and providing all kinds of information, and now they are taking control and asking a lot of questions upfront.”

With that in mind, a job change is a perfect time to thoughtfully create your foundation in a new role. As a new driver recruiter, that should include a cheat sheet of key statistics and a clear employee value proposition for your company and driver jobs. If you’re new to the trucking industry, talk with experienced recruiters at your company and compile a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Creating a reference sheet is an effective way to reinforce key information for yourself and it is a reliable tool that allows you to jump right into conversations with drivers. 

2. Know Your Drivers

Once you have mastered the basics of your company, it’s time to focus on the drivers. Even if you’re familiar with the trucking industry, take time to understand how your new company’s driver needs are unique. Start by building a few essential driver personas. Ask yourself: Who is the ideal driver for your company? What types of candidates are in the pipeline currently. If there is a mismatch between your answers, you may need to develop a new recruiting plan to better attract your preferred candidates. 

As you start recruiting, prioritize driver retention in addition to filling your pipeline. When you speak with drivers, you are starting a relationship

In his podcast, Chad Hendricks also asked Beth Potratz, how recruiters can foster relationships with drivers. She shared:  

“It’s maintaining relationships with people who you have spoken to who shared they aren’t ready to make a move yet but are considering making a move in the future. It also could be looking at drivers who have left your organization and are now eligible to be rehired. Maybe the grass wasn’t as green as they anticipated when they made the move, so [it’s] reconnecting with those folks. Anything you can do to continue to put your brand and employee value proposition in front of people to spark interest.”

When the time comes, make sure your company is top of mind and there is an existing relationship. This is particularly important in priority geographies. If there are geographic regions that are high driver demand for your company or have low driver supply, building relationships early will help you down the road.

3. Implement Recruiting Best Practices

new driver recruiter

Once you take the time to understand your company and your future drivers, there are several new driver recruiter best practices to follow. To reach drivers effectively, contact drivers on their terms. Often, this means by phone or text messaging (with opt-in preferences!). In addition, be available when drivers can talk. Depending on the type of driver you’re recruiting, this may include evening or weekend hours. Reaching drivers on their terms gives you a better chance of getting in touch, but it also shows that you understand and respect drivers’ schedules.

Once you’re in touch with drivers, it’s important to follow up quickly and to maintain a consistent relationship. If a driver responds to a job posting, follow up with them as quickly as possible. Good drivers are in high demand, and they’ll get hired quickly! If you want to get top drivers in your fleet, you have to be faster than your competition.

Once you’re in touch with drivers, establish regular points of contact. For some drivers, you will need quite a few points of contact before they take steps forward with your company. Be patient, but be proactive. A quick follow-up and consistent subsequent touchpoints will ensure that you’re top of mind when that driver is ready to move jobs.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

minimum driver qualifications
The higher the driver qualifications, the better the driver applicants. Right? Not always. In some cases, high minimum qualifications bring top driver leads, but it may also cause you to miss top drivers who are strong candidates but don’t meet your minimum criteria. Especially when you are hiring for several positions in challenging geographies, you may be better off with a high-volume hiring strategy. If you’re having trouble getting good drivers behind the wheel, rethink your minimum qualifications and open your hiring pool. 

Find True Minimums

When you set minimum qualifications, are you starting with the true minimums? Before you modify the job description to fit your internal, company-specific qualification minimums, start with federal and state requirements. Many companies aim above the 21-year-old age minimum for interstate driving or simply displaying a valid CDL. However, it’s important to be strategic about where to raise the bar and where to keep minimums at or near their base level. When you do finalize hires, best practices include keeping a driver qualification file for each driver. 

Use the Job as the Foundation

Before you set minimum qualifications in a job posting, closely analyze the details of the job in two rounds. In Round 1, make a list of the skills and qualifications that you are looking for in a driver. Which ones are “nice to haves” and which ones are essential for a driver to be able to successfully complete the job? Are any of the skills or qualifications that you listed in Round 1 on the list primarily because they are intended to drive up application quality? For requirements that are just “weed-out” criteria, consider lowering your bar slightly to increase the hiring pool for jobs that are difficult to fill. 

Which ones are “nice to haves” and which ones are essential. Distill your qualifications list to the true minimums.

In the second round of developing appropriate minimum qualifications, focus on the “need to haves.” Distill your qualifications list to the true minimum qualifications. Use federal and state requirements as well as the minimums that you determine for your company and the specific job in question. Do not inflate the required qualifications from the essentials. Keep all of the necessary qualifications on the job description skills list. From there, determine your next round of priority qualifications. Decide where to increase your minimum qualifications and where to leave them at their baseline. 

Minimum Qualifications Are Not Static

Once you have reevaluated the qualifications for each job posting, consider those requirements the starting point. Optimize minimum by making them responsive to driver supply and job demand. When applicant volume is low, decrease the minimum qualifications to increase the hiring pool. This is often an effective recruitment strategy when hiring in challenging geographies with limited drivers. Even within a single company, some jobs may mandate different qualifications. 

Qualification requirements are not static. When applicant volume is low, decrease the minimum qualifications to increase the hiring pool. When applicant volume is high and job demand is low, consider increasing minimum qualifications.

On the other hand, when applicant volume is high and job demand is low, consider increasing minimum qualifications. Rapid changes to job postings may cause interested drivers to get frustrated by the perceived changing standards. Increase the required qualifications gradually to find the balance point between a sufficient candidate pool and maximizing driver quality. Then, boost your efforts with other recruiting best practices to connect with the drivers who will be valued members of your fleet.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook