Special Report: Making a successful hire

by James Menzies

CALGARY, Alta. – Many owner/operators will at some point or another face the difficult challenge of finding another driver for their rig. Whether it’s in order to expand the operation, or simply find a competent fill-in while taking a leave of absence, any O/O wants to ensure the best replacement is found.

When it comes time to put a driver behind the wheel of your rig, there are many things to consider.

Alberta-based owner/operator and executive director of the National Association of Professional Drivers, Albert Sykes, has some experience in this field.

After he decided to take the next step in his trucking career and purchase his own truck, his father asked him how he enjoyed being a truck owner.

“I said ‘Well, I’d never have hired me as a driver!'” jokes Sykes.

When searching for the right driver for your operation – whether it be a single truck or a fleet of dozens – it’s important to thoroughly investigate the prospective drivers’ background.

“From my experience, you have to look at references,” says Sykes. “But that’s not enough because previous employers really can’t give bad references because if it gets back to the person there could be legal implications to deal with.”

So the most effective way to evaluate a potential hire, says Sykes, is to take them out on the road to see how they perform.

“The best thing to do is take the guy for a ride and talk to him,” says Sykes.

He recalls taking a driving test with a company he had applied to work for. Sykes admitted blowing it on a hill and coming to a complete stop. But he got out of the situation and he claims that sometimes that’s more indicative of a drivers abilities.

“If you really want to test somebody, put them in a situation whereby it might exceed what they can do and hopefully they’ll recover,” suggests Sykes.

He emphasizes that thorough background checks and practical tests will help determine whether a driver is the right one for you.

Another option for truckers and fleet managers is to outsource their hiring responsibilities to a third-party agency such as The Advantage Group.

Branch manager, Luke Sebben, says there are many advantages to letting a specialized agency such as his take over the reins.

“By going to a third party you reduce your liability because we cover Workers Compensation which is a key component to any company looking to outsource,” says Sebben.

“It reduces a company’s cost and frees up their resources to expand their business and we will provide the personnel as they need it,” he also adds.

When their reputation is on the line, The Advantage Group puts a lot of emphasis on only placing the best drivers with companies.

“We run abstracts on all our drivers every six months to ensure everything is current,” stresses Sebben.

“We look for strong written and oral communication skills, a minimum of two to three years verifiable industry-related experience and our application consists of three written tests as well as a one-hour on-road evaluation with one of our three safety compliance officers,” he says.

The company also specializes in clerical staff and dispatchers.

‘I’d never have hired me as a driver.’


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