The trucking industry is at a peak of solid growth and fast-rising development. With new trends coming up in the industry, coupled with warm approval from the public, many new opportunities for both small and medium sized trucking businesses have emerged. Existing firms are continuously expanding, while new trucking businesses are starting to put up their own operations, which certainly makes staffing requirements and finding experience employees very challenging.
According to a study conducted by the American Trucking Associations, there is a growing shortage of truck drivers that could expand further as the years go by. Aside from the increasing number of retiring workforce, 88% of truck drivers are not qualified, which, as a small business owner, could pose a great threat to your business. To maintain your operations while following safety procedures and standards, here are some tips on how to hire drivers and when to invest in them.
Certifications and requirements
As with every industry, there is a process that needs to be followed in order to employ the right person for the job. And when it comes to truck drivers, just because they are skilled in handling big vehicles doesn’t mean they are automatically qualified for the position. There are certain requirements and certifications that must be met before they can be classified as qualified truck drivers.
Certifications – a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required in most states. There are various types of CDL such as Class A which is meant for driving vehicles with an automatic steering system while specialty licenses are available for different steering systems and special concerns like handling frozen or hazardous materials.
Insurance – Depending on the insurance company, they might require newly hired drivers to have at least two years of road experience, especially if you are a small carrier. It is best to discuss rules about insuring drivers with your trusted agent to find out the standards that need to be covered within your policy.
- Rules and regulations regarding CDL vary depending on state.
- Some insurance companies like CoverWallet cover trucks drivers with no road experience.
- Truck drivers can either be independent contractors or full-time employees, subject to state laws.
Key skills of qualified truck drivers
Keep in mind that when you hire truck drivers, you are not simply employing a person who can operate your vehicle on the road, but someone who will represent your company as a whole. Truck drivers are the face of your business, and they deal with your clients personally so it is important to do a thorough background check to ensure that they possess the right skills for the job.
Patience, diplomacy, and flexibility are the first set of skills you need to look for when hiring drivers. Make sure that they are able to handle stressful situations in a clear and professional manner. Additionally, they need to be collaborative with other team members and open to other job-related activities. Also, check that they are:
- Mechanically knowledgeable when it comes to repair and troubleshooting.
- Proficient in math since calculating bills and documentation often involves numbers.
- Technologically adept with latest devices and gadgets such as GPS and trackers.
Sources for driver recruiting
Next on these tips on how to hire truck drivers is where to find qualified personnel. Although most companies rely on staffing agencies, be aware that their main goal is to recruit drivers, and yours is to recruit and retain great people. To easily market such specific jobs, you need to spread awareness and let people know that you are looking for qualified truck drivers.
Create a job posting and list all details involved such as driving hours, expected salary, and minimum requirements. Use all possible platforms to share the job including through current employees, job posting sites, your own website, and through your social media accounts. You can also collaborate with schools and centers that offer CDL training for easy crowdsourcing. Likewise, consider:
- Midlife career shifters and early retirees looking for part-time jobs.
- Legal immigrants that are able to communicate in English, as different native languages are plus points.
- Veterans who are skilled and physically fit to drive large vehicles.
Topics to cover in the interview process
Driving a truck is a specialized occupation, there might be generic ideas that will come into play but everything is highly technical. Before conducting the interview, double check that the candidate you wish to employ is eligible for the job, both technically and experience wise. It would also be helpful if one of your people from the transportation department sits in the interview process.
Essential topics that need to be discussed include experience with previous employers and reasons for leaving, what motivates them to be a truck driver, common problems they face when driving long hours, and solutions to these problems. You should equally ask topics concerning their reliability when it comes to following schedules and how they handle accidents on the road.
- Don’t forget situational and hypothetical questions to gauge their knowledge.
- Ask compliance safety-related questions to measure their level of understanding.
- The second round of interview should demonstrate their basic driving skills.
Retain truck drivers
Hiring truck drivers doesn’t stop when the person signs the contract. The real challenge begins when it comes to retaining them to be a long-term part of your company. Keep in mind that the turnover rate in the trucking industry is increasingly high at 94%, meaning most drivers never make it past one year before they transfer to another company.
Make sure that you know how to retain great drivers to reduce your time, money, and effort needed to recruit as well as train new ones from square one. Always engage with your drivers and call them by name and let them feel they are appreciated. Do not forget that your drivers have families too, so let them go home whenever possible. Other things that will help retain drivers include:
- Asking drivers their opinion on certain things that matter, especially if it involves them.
- Being honest and upfront at all times, always practice transparent communication.
- Hiring truck drivers requires investing in their future, so keep them updated through training programs.