Talk to any fleet owner and ask them what their biggest challenge is, and the vast majority will reply that it’s finding and keeping good dependable drivers.
That’s because with unemployment at historic lows and increasing demand for freight in recent years, fleet owners are struggling to compete for drivers to keep their trucks rolling and earning money.
So, how can you gain a competitive advantage in attracting the “cream of the crop” drivers to your fleet?
Here are four marketing ideas to help give you a leg up in your recruiting efforts.
#1. Define your unique selling proposition (USP).
Posting an ad on driver recruiting websites is a smart strategy. But so many of the ads say the same thing, especially about compensation. You know, offering a sign-on bonus or promoting how teams can generate consistent revenue or saying that direct deposit is every Friday and so forth.
Yes, money is important to drivers. But is your driver compensation package indeed a differentiator compared to what other fleet owners are offering? Not likely.
So what DOES make you different? Why should drivers work for you and not the competition?
Your answer is your unique selling proposition or USP.
Perhaps it’s that you take care of your drivers, offering the newest and best equipment designed with their comfort in mind.
Or, it’s that you’ve built up such a strong book of business that you can keep them busy even when freight for others is slow.
Or, it’s that you have your drivers’ back at all times, willing to take their calls at any hour of the night and help them through situations impacting their ability to make a delivery.
But don’t merely look at your USP from what you think it is. Talk with your best current drivers to get their perspective.
Why did they choose you? What do they like most about driving for you?
Your drivers’ answers to these questions will reveal your strongest value proposition. And it’s that USP you will want to communicate in your job ads to set you apart from the competition.
#2. Provide advice on online forums and social media.
If you haven’t already done so, join the discussion forums on ExpeditersOnline.com. And request to join various expediting groups on Facebook and other social networks.
The point here isn’t to spam everyone with posts about jobs you’re looking to fill. Instead, use online forums and social media groups as platforms for giving back to the community. Answer questions. Offer advice. Help people make valuable connections with other folks in the industry.
This will raise your profile in the community and give prospective drivers a strong first impression of how you might be as their fleet owner. This will give you a competitive advantage. And you’ll find that top drivers will be reaching out to you.
Does this mean you shouldn’t ever use these online platforms to advertise when you’re looking for drivers?
No. Getting the word out on social media can be an effective way to find new drivers. But wait until you’ve made sufficient “deposits” into the relationships you’re building online before making “withdrawals” with “drivers wanted” posts.
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a book titled Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World that provides a powerful metaphor from the world of boxing to illustrate for how we can most effectively communicate on social media—and that is to “Give, Give, Give, then Ask.”
So, in your online interactions, maintain a similar ratio of give-to-ask. Give advice, help make a connection, provide industry insights…then ask for help to find good drivers.
You’ll discover that when you give first, you’ll get far more than you could have ever imagined in return.
#3. Build your email list.
You may not have an opening for a driver right now, but you still want to keep in touch with quality folks. So add them to your email list and create an email newsletter to “touch base” periodically.
An email newsletter doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. Check out email tools like MailChimp, which is free for up to 2,000 subscribers.
And it doesn’t need to be fancy either. It could be something as simple as this:
“Saw this interesting article on [insert media outlet]. Thought you might find it useful.
My take is that [insert opinion—and why you think that way].
What are your thoughts?
Hit reply and let me know.”
You’ll gain insight into the drivers who hit reply and interact with you. And when you do this over time, you will have built a strong community of prospective drivers.
This way, when you do have openings for drivers, you can alert your email community. And since they already know you, the odds are strong that you’ll find good candidates reaching out to you.
Even when you meet drivers who are with other owners, ask their permission to keep in touch and add them to your email list. You never know when their situation might change and they would be open to speaking with you.
#4. Create a professional looking website.
Do you have a website?
If not, why not?
If so, are you proud of it?
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a website to get good results. For example, services like Squarespace offer ready-made beautifully designed templates where you don’t need technical expertise to put a website that gives off a great first impression.
Why invest in a website? After all, do drivers really care?
Well, put yourself in the mindset of good dependable drivers who have options. What are they looking for when they’re narrowing down their choices for potential fleet owners?
Is this a stable company? Are they professional with how they represent themselves?
Your website becomes the first impression you make with these drivers. And making the right first impression is especially critical when attracting younger drivers who are conditioned to evaluate options online before deciding to contact a company.
The Bottom Line
You’re competing with a lot of other fleet owners and carriers to hire good dependable drivers. So why not give yourself an advantage? Think about what makes you different. Give back to the expedite community. Expand your email list—and your influence. And create an online presence that communicates the right message to the right drivers.