Being able to find and keep good drivers is essential to knowing how to run a successful trucking company.  With the economy still in recovery, it may seem that hiring truckers would be pretty easy; after all, lots of folks are looking for jobs, right?  Unfortunately, getting the right people can be pretty hard these days.  Here’s why:

  1. There are lots of jobs to choose from.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the transportation industry will need over 300,000 new long-haul drivers between now and 2020.  That makes trucking one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, right up there with health care workers and computer experts.
  2. Many trucking companies are notorious for making big promises to new recruits, such as high per-mile rates, time home every weekend, and no deliveries to New York City or other congested urban areas.  Then, when drivers sign on, they find out that they were misled during the hiring process.  When this happens, word spreads quickly, both online and through the truck stop grapevine.  It only takes one or two disgruntled employees to brand you as one of the bad guys.
  3. Trucking isn’t easy.  It requires far more than the ability to drive a big rig.  Truckers must be highly responsible people who can adjust to constantly changing work requirements.  They have to be able to read, write, do math, and perform well on written tests.
  4. Truckers must deal with the rigors of living in an area the size of a walk-in closet, eating food that’s often not-so-good, and the health risks that come with being physically inactive for most of the day.  Then there are the hassles of dealing with rude car drivers, weigh stations, and demanding dispatchers.

When you add up all these factors, it’s easy to see why so many companies are desperate to find capable drivers.  If you’re going to out-do them in the hunt for reliable employees, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Advertise in national trucker’s magazines, local papers, websites like Craigslist, and at trucker conventions and gatherings.  Spread the word both near and far.
  2. If you can hire trucking school graduates, then do so.  Most of these people have the drive and the brains to make good drivers given the chance.
  3. Hook up with organizations that match veterans with employers.  This can be an excellent way to find top-notch people, many of whom have gained experience operating transport equipment during their enlistment days.
  4. Consider hiring a full-time recruiter, or be ready to spend a good deal of your time recruiting, especially when you’re first getting your business up and running.

Finding people is only half of what you must do, however.  You also have to keep them with you for the long haul.  Given that the one-year turnover rate in the trucking industry is almost as high as in the fast food business, this can be the most challenging task you face.  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  If you’re not sure you can get your people home by Friday afternoon every week, then don’t say you can.  Be upfront about how many miles drivers can expect on average and how much they’ll be paid.  This will keep your company from ending up on the “hit list” of firms that no one wants to work for.
  2. Have an open-door policy.  This means simply that your drivers can come to you with questions or problems and know they’ll be treated with respect, even if what they have to say isn’t very pleasant.  Take the time to really listen, and let them know you appreciate their honesty.  If you can resolve the problem to everyone’s satisfaction, then make an honest effort to do so.
  3. Invite employees to share their suggestions for improving the company, and reward them when one of their ideas is adopted.  Little things like a compliment every now and then can go a long way, as can rewards like achievement plaques, cash bonuses, and gift certificates to popular restaurants.

By going above-and-beyond what your competitors are doing, you’ll build a reputation as the kind of company good drivers want to work for.  You’ll be amazed how much easier that will make your recruiting efforts.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is good advice, now as much as ever.

One way to make running your company easier is to get the right transportation management software.  That’s why we invite you to take TruckingOffice for a free 30-day test drive, so you can see for yourself just how effective it is.  Start your no-cost, no-obligation trial today.