Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
I’m always reading articles instructing drivers on things to consider when choosing a trucking company to work for. But I haven’t seen very much information for recruiters looking to hire professional drivers. That’s probably a contributing reason to why we can’t tell much difference between the larger trucking companies. They have very similar business practices and you really can’t differentiate their service from the service of their competitors. The color and graphics on the truck are different, but that’s about it.
When recruiters are tasked to fill the seats of a 10,000 truck fleet with an industry average turnover rate of around 95%, they are looking to put “meat in the seat” and are definitely not looking for the best and the brightest. I couldn’t work for a company like that and I can’t offer a solution. I only want to associate with people and companies that are concerned with excellence. That core value always gets lost when quantity is preferred over quality.
Most of the best drivers are in the Less Than Truckload (LTL) sector. The turnover rate there is usually between 10-15%. LTL drivers are usually home every day and are paid for all of their work time. Those are two things not available in the truckload (TL) sector. A load of LTL generates a considerable amount more of revenue than a TL which translates in higher wages to attract the best drivers and to offer regular home time.
TL companies have also been losing drivers to the energy sector. These oil/gas exploration and drilling companies are paying some of the highest wages in the U.S. and are attracting many drivers who can walk away from their current life and take up residence in West Texas, North Dakota and other parts of the country on short notice and reside in less than desirable living conditions, like “man camps” and campgrounds. From my observation, these drivers aren’t the best so don’t be concerned.
Ok, who’s left to hire? There are plenty of million mile safe drivers out there that you can recruit. These are the top tier drivers that you want in your trucks. In order to attract the very best, you must offer the very best packages. This is what they are looking for:
- Attractive, modern and dependable equipment – that’s the first thing everyone notice
- Top Tier Wage and Benefits – You get what you pay for.
- A comprehensive maintenance program – There’s no room for short cuts here. They want to know you that take care of the equipment they use to make money.
- A friendly, personal relationship with dispatcher/fleet manager – the most important relationship in a trucking company
- Fellow top tier drivers – I wouldn’t want to be associated with a company that hires rookies and problem children
- Individual Attention – There are drivers who want to be home every weekend and some who’ll stay out longer. Work individually with them; no hardline standards i.e. For every 7 days on the road, you get one day off. That’s rookie stuff!
There is an exception to the “don’t hire a rookie” rule that I want to mention. Always consider hiring military veterans. They have worked in high tempo, stressful work environments and are fast learners. I’m very thankful that someone in the trucking industry took a chance and hired me back in 1992 right after I discharged from the Army. And 23 years later, I’m still here!