Continuing on with Ray’s Rules, I thought I would comment on recruiters; the group of folks who are in charge of bringing new drivers and owner operators into trucking companies. It seems funny how just a few short years ago, you couldn’t help but bump into any number of recruitment and retention consultants. Many of those consultants have since become experts at something else. Times have changed and many ex R and R experts have found a new demon that needs taming; that being CSA 2010 (Comprehensive Safety Analysis).
I have never bought into the fact that a driver shortage exists in this industry. In the past, trucks have been short drivers because trucking companies bought too many trucks, but this was not actually a driver shortage. A true driver shortage would mean that tangible goods cannot get to market because there isn’t a driver available to drive the truck to bring them there. Lately, I have heard many intelligent people whom I respect, and who know this industry well, speak about a truly severe shortage of drivers being right around the corner. I must admit that this line of thinking is not without merit and the stars might be aligning themselves for such an event. Star one, otherwise known as CSA 2010, will thin some drivers and carriers from the industry as it is designed to do. Star two, FMCSA mandated minimum entry level driver training should be out this year or early next year and should shut down or severely cripple many of the sub-standard training schools on both sides of the border. Combine these items with star three, any sizable uptick in this economy, and the culmination will mean that there simply won’t be enough drivers out there to fill the seats that need to be filled.
At that time, an effective recruiting department will be worth its weight in gold. Effective recruiting is summarized as the execution of a strategic plan, as developed by the leadership of a given company. Target numbers should be discussed and agreed to by all involved parties and a budget to accomplish the goal must be developed and adhered to, Now, I just capsulated a mountain of work into one sentence, so consider this an overview of the execution of the recruiting process. Recruiting is a difficult function within a company; it can sometimes feel like you’re pushing a rock up a hill. Getting it going can be tough and then when you get it going you need to keep up your momentum because your progress can stop as quickly as it started.
So, without further adieu, here are Ray’s Rules for Recruiters:
Rule 1, Hire what you want and need to be successful, but do not settle. I shudder when I hear people say that drivers and owner operators are not what they used to be. This is an excuse for inefficient effort in my opinion. Remain determined to find drivers who meet your standards and stay your course!
Rule 2, Under-promise and over-deliver. Do not misrepresent or stretch the truth to attract applicants to your company. Doing so is the quickest way to increase turnover and create ill will in your driving force. Let people see that you were everything you told them you would be (and more) if you want people to stay with your company.
Rule 3, Create a ‘points’ system as a front-line screening tool. There’s no sense dragging the hiring process out if you’re not right for each other. In my previous life, an applicant had to have at least five points to be considered a legitimate candidate. For example, they received two points for each year of safe North American, cross-border, van driving experience. They would also get points for safe driving awards or defensive driving courses that they had taken. A candidate would lose points for traffic tickets and would be eliminated from consideration with two speeding tickets or a DUI in the past three years. You get the idea…once the points are developed they cannot be circumvented at anytime without the Safety Manager’s complete support.
Rule 4, Develop a list of expectations for your drivers. Each dispatch board should develop their own list of expectations for their drivers. The expectations should list all of the requirements needed for success for both parties including but not limited to time off notice, check-in requirements, specifics on freight, etc. These expectations are shown to the candidate who must then agree to them in order to continue on in the hiring process. The candidate should then also do the same thing; have them state their expectations of your company. If the candidate needs every other weekend off and you can’t accommodate that schedule then there is no sense in continuing the process. The expectation sheet becomes the platform for your relationship moving forward.
Rule 5, your existing drivers can be your best recruiters. Again, in my past life, we recruited over 50% of our new hires from leads produced by our existing driving force. We compensated them for their effort and gave appropriate recognition through our company newsletter and at company functions. It works, try it! Rewards came in the form of cash, and free entrance to company functions such as Christmas parties and golf tournaments for the leading driver-recruiters.
Rule 6, Know the curriculum that new hires are being trained under. I believe in the PTDI (Professional Truck Drivers Institute) standards for training (check them out at www.ptdi.org ) and you should research and decide what standards you require new hires to adhere to. Hiring from a sub-standard school isn’t helping anyone, least alone your company. I would also strongly advise that your company and the training school use the Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver Apprenticeship Program as a guideline for an appropriate finishing program for new folks starting in the industry.
Rule 7, don’t get hung up on the cost per new hire, I used to get this question all the time, were hiring people, the right people that is, not making widgets, the idea is to fill the funnel with potential candidates and that will cost money, for advertising field trips etc, If you want to get what you’re looking for. The cost of hire is a number that does not apply, this being said measuring the effectiveness of paying for an ad in a trade magazine and measuring results is a different thing along with staying within a given departmental budget.
I hope some of this helps those of you who are having a difficult time filling seats these days. Feel free to drop me a line if you need more information on this subject.
Ray J. Haight
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight