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rising fuel pricesAll across the country, skyrocketing fuel prices are taking their toll on everyone. Offices are extending work from home policies to save employees money, families are postponing summer road trips, and people are staying home whenever possible.  

While the price hikes for consumer fuel are bad, it’s got nothing on the increase in diesel fuel over the past few months. In January 2022, the average price of a gallon of diesel fuel was $3.72. Fast forward a few months and that same gallon costs $5.57, with it going for over $6 a gallon in some places.  

rising fuel prices

Data courtesy of the U.S EIA

This issue is affecting the entire trucking industry, but the biggest group of people hit by this? Owner operators and small trucking companies.  

What’s Causing the Increased Prices of Diesel?

The global economy is massive and complex. There are hundreds of things at play at any given time that affect the price of everything from diesel fuel to toilet paper. That being said, most economists point to two specific things impacting the price of diesel fuel. 

The bounce back of the economy after covid is the first. Supply simply couldn’t keep up with the sudden demand for fuel. Things started to even out in early 2022, but then Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, which is the second factor. The ongoing crisis caused leaders in the US and Europe to ban the import of Russian oil, which caused further turmoil in the market. 

Comedown from Covid

It wasn’t long ago that owner operators were in the driver’s seat of the trucking world. After Covid, the US saw a huge demand for products from consumers ready to return to normal. Retailers weren’t able to keep up with the demands and there weren’t enough drivers to transport what they had.  

This brought a huge number of small-time trucking companies and owner operators into the market, ready to capitalize on the demand for their services. Times were good for a while, but with diesel rising to never-before-seen prices and supply chain issues still prevalent, these small operations are finding that the market they came for isn’t the one we have now.  

Larger carriers are able to weather storms like these thanks to their size, but these new entrants are having a very hard time staying afloat. 

How are Small Companies and Owner Operators Responding?

For many, the increased price of diesel (along with the increased price of everything else) is just too much to bear. It’s leading them to either exit the industry altogether or find other alternatives to keep driving. Small companies and owner operators are either downsizing or leasing on with larger carriers to get by. 

What Does this Mean for Recruiting?

While nothing’s certain (especially in transportation), it’s looking as though the pendulum is swinging the other way again. Hiring numbers in the trucking industry have grown steadily over the past few months with less and less carriers having issues finding drivers.  

As these owner operators and small trucking companies close up shop, expect a number of them to come back to being company drivers for the stability and reduced costs. Some may want to keep their rigs and lease on to a company as owner operators.  

Recruiting Owner Operators

If you haven’t already, now is a great time to think about bringing owner operators into your fleet. But, unlike company drivers, recruiting owner operators can be a bit more difficult.  

Owner operators are more independent and entrepreneurial-minded than your average company driver. They’re also more experienced and will usually have a better safety record.  

When it comes to recruiting them, the process can take a bit longer since it’s a business transaction between partners rather than a standard hiring process. Instead of being hired, the driver is “leasing on” with the carrier for a set amount of time.  

Owner operators also cost more to hire than company drivers with the average yearly salary at about $140,000. This number is of course offset by the fact that the carrier won’t be paying truck maintenance costs, insurance costs, or benefits to the owner operator. 

The best advice for hiring owner operators is to use the right channels to find them, be patient during the recruitment process, and be honest in all your communication. You can read more about how to best recruit owner operators to your business here.  

Increased diesel prices are affecting all aspects of trucking and logistics. While owner operators and small trucking companies are having a hard time staying in business, they can be helped by larger carriers leasing them on for the time being.  

If you’re planning on bringing owner operators into your business, consider partnering with Drive My Way. Our patented software matches drivers with jobs based on their professional qualifications and personal lifestyle preferences. 

Comprehensive CDL Recruitment Solutions

Ready to start recruiting the right drivers? Our solutions experts are happy to answer any questions and show you how Drive My Way uniquely approaches CDL driver recruitment.

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recruiting owner operators

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.

Comprehensive CDL Recruitment Solutions

Ready to start recruiting the right drivers? Our solutions experts are happy to answer any questions and show you how Drive My Way uniquely approaches CDL driver recruitment.

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sprinter van owner operators
With the recent e-commerce explosion, companies have an increased need for “last mile” sprinter van drivers. While most companies prefer to hire their own drivers, a growing number are starting to hire independent Owner Operators to help with the influx of orders. Additionally, more and more drivers who owned their own truck are downsizing to sprinter vans to increase home time, cut costs, and avoid CDL regulations. 

When it comes to recruiting these drivers, it can be difficult to know what you need to do to stand out from other companies. Here are 4 of the most helpful tips successful recruiters follow when recruiting sprinter van Owner Operators. 

1. Know Your Drivers

The first tip is to know the type of drivers you are recruiting. If a driver owns their own sprinter van, he or she will likely be more experienced and entrepreneurial-minded than an average company driver. Like all Owner Operators, sprinter van owners value job flexibility. That’s most likely why they became an Owner Operator in the first place.  

Since there’s a huge demand for their services, they can be much more selective in the type of work they pick up. They’ll want to see the long-term benefit before they consider partnering with your business. 

2. Disclose Everything Related to the Job

One of the biggest issues that drivers point out with recruiters is an apparent lack of honesty. Often, this isn’t because the recruiter is doing anything dishonest or deceptive, it’s because he or she isn’t informed on everything the driver finds important. When it comes to Owner Operators, this becomes especially apparent.  

As stated earlier, these drivers view working with your company as a partnership, not simply a job. It may not be enough to simply provide Owner Operators with the pay, equipment requirements, and the hours. They may want to know the overall business goals, culture, and operations of your company before they partner with you. It’s important for recruiters to be well-versed in all these things before reaching out to Owner Operators. 

3. Go Where Owner Operators Are

Just like company drivers, Owner Operators use a variety of job boards to find employment. But, if you’re looking to hire a large number of sprinter van Owner Operators, your best bet may be to advertise with print magazines. According to the Overdrive 2016 Connectivity Study, Owner Operators read industry magazines at a much higher rate than other drivers.  

Utilizing your network of past and present drivers can be another huge resource in tracking down quality sprinter van Owner Operators who may not be on job boards. According to that same study, 43.8% of drivers find new jobs by word of mouth referrals. 

4. Respond Quickly and Professionally

Drivers are in high demand right now. The ones who are actively looking for work can afford to be picky with who they partner with. If you’re not staying in contact throughout the hiring process, they’ll quickly move on to the next opportunity. According to data captured through Drive My Way drivers, the top reason candidates declined job offers is because they just accepted an offer from someone else. 

This may mean being available outside of normal business hours. If you’re recruiting for a national company, be ready to take calls a few hours before or after the traditional 8AM-5PM workday to account for different time zones and driver shifts.  

Another tip is to make sure you’re getting back to all the drivers who have applied, even if the news isn’t good. It can be a difficult conversation, but avoiding it can lead to a negative impact on your company’s reputation. A LinkedIn survey found that 94% of respondents said they want to receive feedback on their interviews, good or bad. Not every Owner Operator will be a good match for your company, but having a quick and transparent hiring process will make them much more likely to tell other Owner Operators good things about your company.  

 

While there is a lot of competition right now for sprinter van Owner Operators, following these key tips will make the recruiting process for you and the driver easier and more productive.  

owner operator job description template

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trucking regulations and driver misclassification

Driver misclassification is not a new problem as part of trucking regulations. If a driver fills the role of a company driver, but the employer pays them with a 1099 as an independent contractor, there’s a problem. That driver is likely misclassified, an error that employers can face serious consequences for. Recent Legislation, such as the PRO Act, was developed to help combat driver misclassification. Unfortunately, it also effectively eliminates the owner operator business model. Here’s what you need to know about the state of the PRO Act in Congress and driver misclassification.

What Is the PRO Act?

If you follow political or legal developments in trucking regulations, you’ve likely been following the PRO Act. This bill, formally known as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, intends to protect workers from unethical employment practices, but it has alarming consequences for the owner operator business model. The PRO Act is similar to California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), and it sets very specific criteria for gig workers. Unfortunately, in trucking, this also applies to owner operators. 

Under the PRO Act, for a company to employ an independent contractor (like an owner operator), the partnership must pass an ABC test. According to the PRO ACT, an independent contractor must meet the following criteria:

“(A) the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under the contract for the performance of service and in fact;

(B) the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and

(C) the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.”

As part of trucking regulations, the B prong is usually the hardest to satisfy. Section B requires that independent contractors must be doing work outside of the scope of normal business. Unfortunately, in an owner operator model, those drivers are at the heart of a successful operation. Trucking experts are raising concerns that the PRO Act may effectively eliminate the current owner operator model. To date, the PRO Act has passed in the House of Representatives but has not made it to the Senate floor for discussion yet.

What Is the PRO Act Trying to Solve?

truck driverMany trucking regulations experts are strongly opposed to the PRO Act, but there is an underlying problem that this Act brings to the surface. The PRO Act tries to prevent companies from “employing” workers without offering benefits AKA misclassifying drivers. In many cases, this pushes the cost burden to the individual driver. However, owner operators are business owners, and many enjoy the freedom, income potential, and flexibility that comes with their role.

While the owner operator model works well for many truck drivers and carriers, driver misclassification is still prevalent in the industry. Misclassified drivers include those who earn pay as independent contractors and do not have guaranteed work but work like company drivers. There is a difference between owner operators who run under their own authority and misclassified truck drivers, however, the PRO Act includes both. 

What Is Driver Misclassification?

Driver misclassification occurs when fleets try to pay company drivers as independent contractors. By classifying company drivers as 1099 employees, carriers illegally avoid paying full benefits to their drivers. Owner operators are a different business model. They are independent contractors. True owner operators run their own business. They partner with carriers based on a mutually agreeable contract and may run for multiple carriers simultaneously. 

If you are uncertain about the appropriate driver classification for your fleet, there are ways to check.

Does the driver:

  1. Do their job under their own direction? For example, can drivers refuse loads if it doesn’t meet their criteria?
  2. Pay lease, maintenance, and insurance costs? Have proof of vehicle registration in their name?
  3. Have the ability to work for another company?

If you said “no” to any of these questions, you are employing a company driver. In that case, the driver should earn pay as a W2 employee and be eligible for benefits.

Brian Dershaw

Brian Dershaw, Partner at Taft Law

We spoke with Brian Dershaw, Partner at Taft Law, and he shared Taft’s response to companies with concerns about misclassification:

“In many instances, contractor classification may be an essential component of the company; the consequences of misclassification could be detrimental. With that in mind, we continuously navigate the federal and state tests in this area. This includes guiding clients in ways to maintain their independent contractor classification and, if appropriate, advising on the transition to an employer-employee model.”     

Paying a company driver as a 1099 employee is illegal and can lead to serious consequences, but there are legal resources, such as Taft Law or other firms, that can help.

What Are the Penalties for Driver Misclassification?

The legal ramifications for driver misclassification can vary based on the situation. In some cases, the company is required to pay back the money owed to the driver based on the loss of income and benefits. In severe cases, companies may face additional fines or time if the misclassification is found to be deliberate.

When asked about driver misclassification penalties, Taft Law’s Brian Dershaw, shared:

“If an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, that can raise serious issues across the employment spectrum. These include wage and hour issues such as overtime under the FLSA and state laws, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, health insurance benefits, and employee-specific anti-discrimination and leave laws (e.g., ADA, Title VII, ADEA, and FMLA). Misclassification can result in steep financial penalties and other damages.”

Misclassifying drivers as independent contractors when their role is as a company driver is a serious offense. The PRO Act may not be an effective solution to driver misclassification in the trucking industry because of its reaching consequences for owner operators. However, driver misclassification is a serious problem, and carriers should take immediate action to rectify any misclassification in their fleet to avoid legal consequences.

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box truck owner operators
Josh Massay is a CDL B licensed box truck owner operator with three years of driving experience. He drove as a non-CDL delivery driver for two years and then decided he needed a better-paying job to support his wife and his 3-year-old daughter, Emma. Josh didn’t plan on a trucking career, but he decided to get his CDL B, and he’s proud of his trucking work. So, he put his independent streak and business sense to good use on his newest venture: becoming a box truck owner operator. Now, 1 year into being one of FedEx’s box truck owner operators, Josh is looking for his next job.

Would you partner with Josh? Would Josh partner with your organization?

Josh isn’t real, but your open job is. There are many box truck owner operators just like Josh ready to be hired. Make sure you connect with the right drivers to make the hires you need.

1. Know Your Drivers

The cardinal rule of partnering with box truck owner operators is to know your drivers. It’s number one for a reason. Having a clear image of the drivers you want to reach sets the tone for your job offerings, the position description, and all recruiting efforts. Drivers with some experience and a CDL A, like Josh Massay, may expect higher pay. Drivers who have a CDL C may need additional training if they will be hauling an atypical load.

box truck owner operatorWhile every box truck owner operator will be different, there are a few common traits that you can expect. Like most CDL owner operators, box truck owner operators are likely to be independent. Many became owner operators to be their own boss. Similarly, you can expect box truck owner operators to be business savvy. Even the newest owner operators must quickly learn the ropes if they want to stay afloat. Once you have a distinct driver persona, use your employee value proposition to connect.

On the technical side, box truck owner operators are probably not new to the driver’s seat. Many will have several years of driving experience, though that may not be as a box truck driver. On the other hand, some great box truck drivers may have only a CDL C or CDL B. They’re not your typical CDL A truck driver, but they can be a great fit for other box truck driving jobs.

2. Write Job Descriptions and Ads That Work

Posting a new job description can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Far too many job applicants are unqualified or a poor position fit. Hiring managers lose precious hours wading through applicants for a few good candidates. In addition, the dramatic rise in e-commerce demands means competition from shipping giants like Amazon and FedEx is extremely high. Better job descriptions can help you get the right drivers into your hiring pipeline faster with fewer unqualified applicants. 

Driver applicants should be crystal clear on the job based on the description. No surprises. If you have specific criteria for the job, it must be in the position description. Have specific vehicle criteria? Are 3+ years of experience required? Looking in a specific hiring radius? Tell drivers in the job description. Similarly, be upfront about what you can offer drivers.

Drivers will self-select whether the job is right for them. If drivers are interested, they’ll apply. If not, they’ll stay away and save you time. 

A good job description does nothing for drivers who don’t see it. Box truck owner operator positions should be posted through a variety of distribution channels. Start with online resources such as e-newsletters, social media, and online forums. Since many box truck owner operators are doing local or regional work, consider advertising in local newspapers or other print sources near you as well. Tracking efficacy through print channels can be difficult and costly, so make sure you have a set budget before you start advertising. If you have a physical store in a visible location, post signs to let drivers know that you’re hiring. As you start reviewing candidates, track their application source. Continue using a multi-pronged advertising strategy, but prioritize the channels that are generating the best candidates.

3. Consider it a Partnership

Owner operators have a big decision to make in joining your company. Make sure it’s a mutually good fit. Consider the driver from the start, Josh Massay. He is running a business and takes pride in his job as an owner operator, and he expects respect and reliability from the companies he works with. As an employer, find the balance between setting clear guidelines without over-managing. Owner operators can choose to find other work if things aren’t going well, so maintaining a positive business relationship is critical to reducing turnover.

Treat owner operators as respected partners, and they’ll be happy to step in when you need them year after year.

owner operator job description template

FREE TEMPLATE

Owner Operator Job Description

Writing an effective job description for owner operators is the key to attracting the right applicants for your company. Download this free template to start optimizing your posts.

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