Driver recruiting is never far from your mind. It leads to deep anxieties in the dark of the night. But what are you doing about it? All too often recruiting campaigns are off-base and ineffective. Millions of dollars are spent spreading weak messages out over ineffective media outlets. When these efforts fail to produce lots of applicants, trucking executives wring their hands and moan about the driver shortage.
Drivers aren’t disposable characters from The Walking Dead, bereft of consciousness and reacting only to narrow stimuli. So why do you try to get their attention by jiggling a few goodies in front of them, as if they were hungry, yet minimally-conscious zombies. Effective recruiting requires an effective message. One that portrays to the outside world, your inside reality. Start with some introspective questions.
Who are we? What makes us different? Are we high tech or old school? Are we family-oriented or big business? Are we short haul or 48 state? How often do our drivers get home? Do we specialize in no-touch freight? Do we have nice new tractors? Why do our long-term drivers stay with us? What do they like about us that keeps them here?
These are only a few of the more than 100 vital questions you better ask before you ever consider writing your first ad. And if you’re honest with yourself, you won’t get good marks across the board. That’s okay; you can’t be all things to all drivers, but you probably do have some good things to offer and that’s where you need to focus your energy.
Too many carriers run ads like they’re trying to attract zombies. And just like the zombie virus, this industry-wide mindset appears to be contagious. Why else would all the ads look identical? They all show a truck, a happy driver and offer a few platitudes. Do you really think this will get applicants plodding mindlessly to your doorstep?
Marketing is about perception and your message is ten times more important than where you place it. Good drivers are looking for a good job…a good quality of work life, not a dead thankless existence. Do you have the analytical skills to self-assess and creative staff to write good ad copy? If not, you better find some help. Building your brand starting today is more than just your future success…it may very well determine your ability to survive.
Once you have an effective message, you need to spread it far and wide. And that ain’t cheap. You need to invest your limited budget wisely. In 2013, that doesn’t happen in your small-town weekly newspaper. Today, you have dozens of choices, but what works? What doesn’t? The goal is to get a prospect’s attention: interrupt them! And, you have about one third of a second to do it, so your ad better be clever.
But, more than clever, it needs to inform. If you do get their attention, you have about one second the engage them. Once again, your message better be compelling.
Advertising in print media is not enough. Putting a hotline on the back of your trucks is not enough. Hanging banners on your fence is not enough. Drivers have Smartphones, iPads, laptops and wireless internet connections. They use Siri, or Wikipedia when they have a question and they go to the web when they’re looking for a job.
What’s your image in cyberspace? Do former drivers say nice things about you? Do you have promotional videos on YouTube? Do you use LinkedIn daily and have an up-to-date corporate Facebook page? Do you maintain a blog? You need a holistic approach, or you’ll be left behind.
The driver shortage may be an industry problem, but attracting and keeping drivers to haul your loads is your problem. Only you can solve it. Perhaps you need some help. But either way, it takes a thoughtful, methodical approach that blends analytical expertise, creative skills and trucking wisdom.
Don’t treat drivers like zombies through a mindless recruiting campaign or you’ll soon join the walking dead.
Mark G. Gardner
Chief Executive Officer
Avatar Management Services, Inc
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