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Struggling to Hire Drivers? Here's Why

Written by: Rick Acosta

Keeping each truck filled at all times is a privilege most carriers don’t get to experience.

Smaller, local carriers don’t experience this as an issue quite as often, as they can rely on word of mouth, personal contacts, and old school advertising methods to keep their trucks full. It comes down to supply and demand, and it’s no surprise that local and regional gigs are easier to find drivers for. However, if you’re running an OTR operation, or you’re unlucky in terms of your location, company age, or if you’re still in the process of building your reputation - there’s a lot you need to do to make sure you fill those trucks.

All recruiters want to keep their trucks full. Recruiters are also stubborn. You know it’s true. Oftentimes, they refuse to think outside the box. They’re either stuck in their ways, or are too afraid to invest into their success in fear of losing money, or not getting the results they expected right away.

There are plenty of reasons why recruiters like that would continue struggling. Certainly, not all investments into your hiring process will turn out to be beneficial.

In order to make the right choices and really optimize your hiring, there are a few things all recruiters in the industry can do right now to achieve long lasting results. Let's break down some of the things you may be doing wrong, and the solutions you can employ right away.

Your website isn’t optimized for Google

There’s a certain three letter acronym that’s been bouncing around the internet for a while. SEO. Search Engine Optimization. You may have heard of it and you may know what it means... but you may not know how it works.

I wouldn’t blame you if that were the case, as it’s a hassle to get into. It’s not exactly rocket science, but for some folks in the trucking industry it may as well be.

The average trucker is 55, and the guys sitting in the offices aren’t getting any younger either. SEO may as well be the new game console their grandkid got for Christmas. If it were up to those codgers, they’d still be sending out telegraphs, am I right? - .-. ..- -.-. -.- . .-. ... / .- .-. . / -.-. --- --- .-..

Anyway... why should you care about SEO? Well, because it’s going to enable you to show up on Google searches. People Google everything. You already know it. Look at your search history and you’re bound to see some funny questions. “What came first, turkey the bird, or the country?” or something wacky like that. “What is gingham?”

Whatever. The results that pop up at the top are the things you click on, and your mind automatically trusts those results the most. If it’s at the top of the search, that means it’s the best, right? Well, damn right it is.

You want to be at the top of your search list when truck drivers type in anything regarding a job in your area. The thing is, making a site from scratch requires time, money, and a whole rigmarole of inconvenience. You don’t have time for that.

You don’t have a career site that tells your story

What you need is a career site where you can post your jobs, and have them be easily found by people whenever they’re looking for work in your area. YouCruit offers a great, beautiful, stunning career site. Check it out.

So what will a career site do for your business?

  • Provide you with a constant stream of traffic, for free
  • Let drivers know more about you as a team
  • Give visitors an insight into who you are
  • Free up your time
  • Give you a beautiful that is SEO optimized with no effort on your part

The career site is built to remove all the hassle of setting up a site on your own. ALL of the hard work is done for you. All you need to do is customize it to your preferences, meaning deck it out with images, stories, and nuggets of trucking wisdom and you’re set.

In my research, I’ve stumbled upon several company websites where the career pages lead nowhere. If I were a driver trying to apply, and I was met with a 404 page leading nowhere… I wouldn’t apply. The amount of big, established trucking companies without an online presence these days is ridiculous. It’s unbelievable. Maybe now, with an easily accessible YouCruit career site, that will change.

For more information about why you need a career site, I wrote a whole article on the topic here.

You’re paying for ads on the wrong platforms

Don’t even get me started on the whole ad thing. And please don’t tell me you’re paying an ad agency. I have nothing against ad agencies, but in the trucking sector, they’re notoriously shady. Even when they're not shady, striking a balance between budget, candidate volume, and candidate quality is a very hard thing to do.

Unfortunately for you - even if you’re not paying a middle-man, you probably are. Let me explain. Some companies promise to bring you “X amount of qualified leads per month” for a flat subscription fee. Or you have an agent promising that “our director will personally work on your campaign”.

Alternatively, you may be putting all of your eggs in one basket. That basket could be Indeed, or Craigslist, or Facebook. When your entire strategy relies on one or two platforms, you are setting yourself up for subpar results.

The problem is that you can’t know whether or not your results are subpar until you have a point of reference - something to compare your results to.

That’s why I want to introduce you to a little miracle called “programmatic advertising”. It’s a fancy way of saying that a computer determines the best channels and methods for your advertising efforts, and adjusts your strategy accordingly.

What’s even better is YouCruit offers its own in-house programmatic advertising suite that we’re calling “The Works”. It almost feels like cheating, but “The Works” really works.

Other trucking companies in your area are offering more

There’s no “quick-fix” for this, but there’s something to be said here nonetheless. A big reason for not receiving applications can be due to competition in your area. Other companies may just be offering better wages, home-time, benefits, holidays, you name it.

It’s important to know your local competition, and make sure your offer is competitive. Of course, it isn’t just about being competitive, but being able to communicate your value to the driver.

If you lack a website, if you advertise on the wrong platforms, or drivers can’t find you by searching your company name in Google, then you’re probably going to suffer from this.

It’s important to treat your employees with respect. Though you may not be a company that does this, I know several carriers that do a poor job at keeping their drivers satisfied.

If you can’t raise pay, consider the needs of your drivers. You’d be surprised at what matters most to them. From the many drivers I’ve spoken to, I know they’d choose a company with trucks governed at 70mph over one that governs their trucks at 65mph any day. They’ll take a pay cut, if it means they get to drive faster and be more efficient.

Your value to the drivers doesn’t just lie in your home time and pay, but extends far beyond that. You need to think about what your drivers value, and the unique things you can bring to the table. That’s why branding is so important.

Consider your quality of life policies. I know many drivers that couldn’t go for a position because of a stringent pet policy, or rider policy. Always consider the little things.

You’re not investing into your recruitment

Good recruiting departments are fueled by a few things. Hard work, good employees, professionalism… oh, and of course, money. Investing resources into new sourcing and management methods can transform your hiring results. If you make the right choices.

All carriers have different needs, and what may work for one company won’t necessarily work for another. There’s also a lot of skepticism in the industry, as a lot of charlatans, smooth talkers, and salesmen try to convince carriers of their patented driver attraction formula.

I’ve spoken to several carriers who are unhappy with their hiring results, but see no reason to make any changes. “We’ve tried nothing, and we’re all out of ideas!” Further, their stubborn attitude to anything new stems from fear of losing money.

Every aspect of business craves investment, and recruiting should be one of the main areas, especially in the trucking industry. Your competitive potential relies largely on how well you can manage your turnover.

It's all uphill from here

I don't know how much of this article applies to you. I really don't. I suspect that you can probably relate to one or two of the problems mentioned here, if not more. My point here isn't to demoralize or point out flaws or problems. Quite the opposite.

There are always solutions, always workarounds, and always tweaks that you can make to achieve better results.

There's no plateau, just incremental improvements. Don't be afraid to try new things to stay competitive. The market is ever-shifting, and you want to keep dancing along with it well into the future.

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