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ThompsonGas

We had the chance to talk with Aphrodite Reifsnyder, Driver Recruiter with Drive My Way client, ThompsonGas. She shared what she’s learned from her time in recruiting, how a centralized recruiting process can benefit hiring efforts, and how she stays motivated as a recruiter.  

How did you get started in the trucking industry? 

I actually never pictured myself working in trucking. After 5 years of working at a bank, I was displaced during a merger. Because of my financial background, a trucking company offered me a position as an inventory coordinator.  

In 2011, after a year of digging my heels in and making waves, another department director recognized my skill set and took me under his wing as a driver recruiter. I was in this role until 2014, when I took a pricing analyst position for a few months. I soon found that I missed interacting with the drivers and serving as a bridge between drivers and empty trucks. Apparently, I had found my niche. I decided to move back into recruiting, and I’ve been loving it ever since. 

When you arrived at ThompsonGas, what were your main goals for the recruiting department? 

As the first dedicated driver recruiter for the company, I wanted to establish the basics and build from there. I first had to meet with area directors to see what they wanted from prospective drivers. Next, I had to evaluate the individual 140+ markets we operate in, to see what advertising would make the biggest impact.  

From there, my top 3 goals were to bring in new vendor relationships, integrate a new ATS known as Tenstreet, and focus on military recruiting efforts. 

What are the benefits to a centralized recruiting process? 

Having our recruiting centralized allows for us to focus on big picture concepts. You have a budget, which can help us to negotiate better contracts when covering multiple areas. You seek connections and business relationships that are productive on a big scale but can also provide that local feel to connect with the drivers.  

Most importantly, you have a much better opportunity to share ideas that work in some areas and mirror them in areas that are struggling to fill roles. Being able to have a go-to point of contact for sharing tips on what works in different areas really helps the organization as a whole to collaborate and work together.  

There is no cookie-cutter way to recruiter drivers. Just because you have a centralized focus or department shouldn’t mean that it has to produce a generic blanket of ads. Just like the diversity of people is important in the workplace, so is the “diversity” of an advertising and marketing strategy for driver recruitment.  

What have you learned from working with hiring managers across the country? 

slip seating

Not only is local insight crucial, but keeping up to date with a market and industry in a state of constant flux is vital. You have to be flexible in transportation and willing to take risks. Bottom line, when I’ve collaborated with local hiring managers, I’ve found that I don’t have to re-invent the wheel. 

Taking the time to talk with the hiring managers  gives me the unique opportunity to find out what has and hasn’t worked in the past. If a hiring manager tells me, for example, that they’ve tried a certain advertising campaign in the past that didn’t produced results, why would I run the same ad and waste valuable time and money? It is far more beneficial to start with something they know has worked and integrate my ideas later.  

As a driver recruiter, what are some of the ways you keep yourself motivated? 

It’s very easy to get bogged down with the constant demand that operations and managers place on recruiters. It is often a thankless job in good times, and the first to blame in bad times.  

That being said, I believe it takes a strong individual to do this job and stay refreshed and motivated.  Things that have helped me are finding my work-life balance, flexibility in my daily routine, and recognizing when it’s time to make a change to avoid burnout.  

I have been very selective with the types of driver recruiting opportunities and the companies I’ve chosen to work with. It’s crucial to not just find a job for a paycheck but one where you can grow.  

What has made you successful as a driver recruiter? 

I think success comes from the team a recruiter works with as much as it does the individual. I’ve learned a lot over the past decade. I attribute that to the leaders, coworkers, and drivers I’ve worked with. I think any successful driver recruiter needs to be well-rounded in communication, creativity, innovation and perseverance. You can’t give up when the going gets tough. You have to keep rolling on. 

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

Stan Smith

Just a few years ago, Stan Smith was a company driver looking to branch out on his own by becoming an owner operator. Fast forward to today, and Stan is the owner of KimChris Xpress Transport, his own trucking company based out of Cleveland, Ohio. KimChris Xpress Transport is a dedicated Amazon partner and is committed to exceeding customer expectations while keeping drivers first. 

We spoke to Stan about his time in the trucking industry, what it’s like to partner with Amazon, and his plans for the future of KimChris Xpress Transport.  

Q: How did you get started in the trucking industry?

I was working at a factory and saw an advertisement for Great Lakes Driving School. I wanted to make more money and see the country, so it seemed like the perfect fit. After I completed training, I was hired the very next week with a logistics company in Northeast Ohio.  

My first check with this company was great. it was over $1,000, and I was excited about driving for them going forward. But, when it came time for my second check, I realized that the first one was inflated by a one-time bonus, and my checks after wouldn’t come close to that amount. I was also on the road for 3-4 months at a time with one weekend home in-between. Overall, I was disappointed with my experience at this company and began looking for something else. 

Q: What made you decide to start KimChris Xpress?

Once I left the first logistics company I was working with, I found a job with a smaller carrier. My experience there was much better. I learned from the more experienced drivers there and saw the advantages of being an Owner Operator. It didn’t take me long to decide that’s what I wanted to do. Shortly after, I financed my own truck and started KimChris.  

Q: Your company name is very unique. Where did it come from?

Originally in 2016, our name was KimLove Xpress Transport. We were named after my older sister who passed. The following year, my older brother passed as well and I decided to change our name to KimChris Xpress Transport as a way of honoring them both.  

The name is a way to always keep me motivated, and it helps their memory live on as well. My Mom loves to call me whenever she sees one of our trucks on the road.  

Q: When did KimChris Xpress Transport become an Amazon partner?

When you own your own trucking company, you have two options for how you get business. You can work through an intermediary broker, or you can deal directly with the shipper. After a while of going the broker route, I decided to get involved directly with one of the biggest shippers there is; Amazon.  

The results of this partnership have been great so far. As a company, they’re very accepting of smaller fleets working with them, which is perfect for KimChris. Obviously, they’re a huge company, so the work we get from them is very consistent as well.  

Q: What does the holiday season look like for KimChris?

We’re always looking for drivers around this time to help with the extra workload. Like with all trucking companies, this is definitely our busiest time, especially with Amazon. What’s nice about working with them is that they don’t rush drivers when they don’t feel safe or something goes wrong out on the road. Safety is the number one concern for them. This is especially reassuring for our drivers when the winter weather hits.  

Q: What does the future look like for KimChris Xpress?

My five-year-plan is for KimChris Xpress to become a medium-sized fleet. My ultimate goal is for us to become a mega fleet, but that’s down the road. For the immediate future, I want to keep working with Amazon and get more drivers and trucks. Trucks are the easy part; it’s finding the drivers first that’s the challenge. All in all, the future is looking bright for KimChris.  

Q: What makes KimChris Xpress different from other trucking companies?

We aren’t a huge carrier, but I feel like that’s a strength for us right now. During the hiring process, a driver will talk to me and maybe one other person. It’s not like some larger carriers where it’s very corporate, and you go through five rounds of interviews.  
I know my drivers by name and have a relationship with all of them. They’re not just a number here. I strive to give them the best home life balance possible by making their schedule a week out. They really appreciate this, since they’re able to plan their week and family time around it. My goal when starting KimChris was to build a company that treats drivers the way I would have liked to be treated at my first company, and I believe I’ve accomplished that. 

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

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