How to Stay on Top of the Shrinking Driver Pool
This year, a concern has been raised in the driver recruiting world and it’s bringing up very specific questions, many of which we’ve heard from our clients. Why is cost-per-hire going up? Why is cost-per-lead more? Why is the number of hires going down though there’s been no change in yearly/monthly budget? It would be easy to attribute all this to the driver shortage but we decided to take a closer look.
Not having changed our strategy, we decided to look at it from the point of view of the driver to see if that would reveal answers. We started from the beginning of the process for a driver looking for a job and asked ourselves, “where does a driver looking for a job go first?” According to our research, the number one site used by company drivers and owner-operators for job searches is Google search engine. So we took a look at the keyword search trends “truck driving jobs” and “trucking jobs” over the span of 2016 to 2018 and found a decline in search volume:
Source: Google Trends
With Google search being the number one source for job hunting, less online searches is a strong indicator of less drivers actually looking for a new job. With less drivers searching, this means less drivers are seeing advertising for driver jobs. This puts those drivers beyond our reach. Thereby shrinking the small pool of drivers we all pull from in the recruiting world.
This decrease in available drivers has led to another concern. We’re seeing a rise in cost-per-hire and cost-per-lead. With less available drivers out there, this drives up the worth of a potential hire. And like any precious commodity growing more and more scarce, this is driving up costs of hiring driving and securing leads.
Why Are Less Drivers Searching?
So what’s causing this decline? Why are less drivers searching for jobs? We have a few educated guesses that might explain this.
Lower Turnover Rate
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there’s been a significant rise in freight over the years.
With freight rising, this provides more loads for drivers and in many cases, higher pay. This could lead to less drivers leaving their driver jobs indicating the possibility of a decrease in turnover rate. The American Trucking Association announced a dip in truck driver turnover rate in the last quarter of 2017. With the consistent increase in freight, a further decline in this year’s first quarter wouldn’t be a far-fetched notion. But with more freight comes an even greater need for more drivers.
Not Enough Pay
We’ve learned from our research that this is the number one reason fleets cannot hire, and retain. Truck driver pay in the U.S. may have increased over the last 13 years but when taking into account inflation, drivers are making less now than in 2005.
With word of mouth playing a significant part in drivers finding jobs, not showing drivers respect becomes very dangerous territory for fleets in need of drivers. Our research shows 71% of drivers would work for less money if they felt respected. There are many fleets out there coming up with new ways to show their appreciation to drivers, but the lack of respect many drivers have experienced has unfortunately already tainted the general outlook of the profession.
What Can Be Done?
It’s in the hands of fleets to solve the main issues discouraging drivers from pursuing driver jobs. So what are some things we can do in the business of driver recruiting to get around these issues and reach out to drivers?
Focus on Value Rather Than Cost
Instead of focusing on cutting costs, focus on increasing the value of the drivers you do hire. First establish a baseline of your average lifetime value. This is accomplished by the following equation: Average Time at Fleet in Months x Average Revenue per Driver By Month.
However, it’s best to find your own fleet’s average.
Increase the value your recruiting provides by focusing your efforts on the types of drivers that offer the best LTV. This is a drastic change from the typical CPH focus. Build personas of these drivers and go after them hard. The personas may reveal insights on what attracts these types of drivers to your fleet.
The information will also provide insight on how best to reach these drivers. For example, if the drivers who stay the longest are attracted to the solitude of the open road or perhaps love travel, tailoring your advertising to emphasis these traits can draw these drivers.
Boost Your Brand
Because the demand for drivers is so high, the pressure on fleets to fill open spots can cause them to miss the importance of brand awareness. Some may feel the time it takes to build one’s brand isn’t time they can spare, but in the end branding can reinforce an important source of your hires, referrals and organics.
In fact, the industry average organic rehire and referral rates account for 30% of fleet hires. These also happen to be among the lowest CPH (since they’re organically generated). Being able to tap into this source and grow this segment’s hire rate could provide you with a huge advantage. Especially at a time where we see the qualified driver pool shrinking.
How can you increase the amount of drivers that reach out to you organically? You can use a strong branding method like content marketing to establish your business as worthy of a driver’s trust and build a healthy reputation. Creating content that touches on topics that matter to drivers like health and wellness, concerns, or provides the latest news in the industry can make you as a trusted source of relevant information for drivers. Content marketing is a great way to boost organic search and thereby organic hires. And of course organic hires will be your cheapest source of hires. Of course content marketing isn’t the only play here. Videos and events could also be a great solution.
How can you reinforce hires coming from referrals? Make sure your company has a good reputation. A good reputation makes it that much easier for a driver to recommend your fleet to others drivers. Start by surveying your drivers to see how they feel about you.
However, If you want to see how the industry thinks about your fleet, you could try Google Consumer Surveys. This allows you to poll a large audience of drivers outside of your fleet. If you want to improve your reputation, it helps to know what your reputation currently is.
With the many factors contributing to the shrinking driver pool, it’s easy to be discouraged about whether you’ll ever get the drivers you’re looking for. But by identifying and targeting the type of drivers who stay the longest, increasing brand awareness, and utilizing organics and referrals, you can increase your chances of reaching the drivers you need to be profitable.