The Biggest Challenge in Driver Recruiting Today


There are so many difficulties in trucking today. Consumer demand is up, participation in the labor force is down, and today’s capacity crunch is worse than in 2018. There’re enough challenges to stuff an eighteen-wheeler.

What’s the hardest part of recruiting today?  Most fleets are going pedal to the metal on recruiting, only to find themselves bumping up against the same obstacles over and again. But there’s one that’s particularly gnarly. Based on my experience, the biggest challenge isn’t getting drivers in the door. It’s retention, especially in the first three months.

Sure, the pipeline isn’t what it was two years ago. But what’s even harder is keeping truckers from getting snatched away in those sixty to ninety days. It’s a delicate dance that’s critical to the health of your fleet.

If you’re seeing a lot of turnover during this period, never fear. The trick is to think of it like dating.  When keeping truckers on your payroll starts to feel more like looking for a serious relationship on Tinder, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Remind drivers of what you have to offer – Remember when you were first dating your spouse? Odds are, you didn’t stop trying to “sell yourself” after that first date. No matter how well things went in the beginning, you probably kept combing your hair and wearing pants that button for a while. Otherwise, you would have risked ending up in the discard pile, while your would-be spouse tells their friends about their latest dating horror story (parallel universe here, of course).

We kid, but that dating mentality must apply to relationships with your truckers too. If they aren’t being reminded why they chose you over another carrier, then they could get wooed by a competitor. Drown out the noise around your drivers by continuing to sell all that you offer to your truckers even after they’ve signed on.

  1. Make sure drivers are accessing your programs – It’s great that you’ve got the 401K or an awesome pay structure. But do your truckers know when and how to utilize it? If not, that could be an area where a little more communication is warranted. Think of it this way: you make a connection and take the next step. Sweet! In that situation, are you going to hide your shared interests or commonalities? Of course not! You want that special someone to know that dating you means getting to have an experience that they want to have. Their life gets better because you are in it.

It’s the same deal with your drivers. When it comes to truckers, your company’s benefits are the equivalent of that cooking or rock-climbing class that your date has always wanted to try. You win by giving them what they want. Unlike a romantic relationship, however, there’s less occasion to worry about awkward silences or talking about yourself too much. It’s a win-win situation.

  1. Improve clarity in pay communications – Busting out the dating analogy here again. If you were running late or had to cancel at the last minute, you’d give your date a heads up, right? Otherwise, they might assume that you stood them up, and the relationship would go south, fast. When it comes to miscommunication with truckers, it’s not just a matter of wasting an evening that could have been spent bingeing on Netflix. It’s their livelihood. Nowhere is this more critical than in pay communications. Do yourself a favor and make your pay structure as explicit as you can. That’s what turns a potential “you stood me up” situation into an “I’m disappointed, but I get it” one.

Just as it isn’t always clear whether to wear the polo shirt or the button down when you’re out with someone new, communication with drivers isn’t always straightforward. It can, however, make the difference between a new employee staying on for years or leaving after a month.  Whether it pertains to dating or trucker recruiting, sometimes you need to call a friend for advice. And while we probably can’t recommend a dating strategy, we can be there for you when your relationship with truckers feels like it’s going downhill. We’ll help you wow your drivers for the long run!

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On the first Thursday of every month, NTI President & CEO Leah Shaver, aka the Sunshine Girl, goes live on air on SiriusXM Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking, to talk with drivers about all things pay. From paycheck questions to working with fleets on resolving issues around compensation, HR and legal, life on the road, and relationships with their employers, Payday on Road Dog Live dives into topics drivers care about most.

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