Webinar Q&A: "Your CDL Driver Recruiting and Retention Playbook - 5 Steps to Success"

Did you have a chance to attend our recent webinar, “Your CDL Driver Recruiting and Retention Playbook - 5 Steps to Success?” We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted time frame, so Jeremy Reymer, Founder & CEO of DriverReach, and Max Farrell, Founder & CEO of WorkHound, answered them below in this Q&A-style blog post.

A few questions that related to driver pay and incentives were answered by driver wage expert, Leah Shaver of the National Transportation Institute.

If you weren’t able to join the live webinar, don’t worry – you can watch it on-demand anytime!

Question: Talking about a basic form to fill from the CDL drivers, what are the basic questions to include to make it simple as well as enough for a basic investigation?

Answer: At the very least you need contact information (obviously) - name, email address, and phone number. Beyond that, I’d suggest collecting their CDL class, years of experience, and any endorsements. The more information you want to collect, the more empowered you are, but the more information you collect also has a diminishing return as it creates more friction and will lead to a higher rate of abandonment.

DriverReach provides you with the option of using a basic LEAD FORM in addition to the complete DOT APPLICATION. 

Question: What do you think about having a "secret shopper" driver test by calling their own recruiters/recruiting department and discover how it flows?

Answer: I’m a huge fan of operating with empathy. As you know, before we started WorkHound, I rode along in a truck across the country. So that I knew what it was like to live in the truck, eat in the truck, and shower at truck stops. It was critical to understand the highs and lows of that. So, acting like a driver and calling or having a driver call-in and recording it is helpful because all of us in business, myself included, operate with blinders on. So having the ability to see what the experience is like from a driver's perspective is helpful data. We don’t know what we don’t know and so taking advantage of resources that allow us to gain first-person empathy is always worth a shot. You can experiment with the “secret shopper” path pretty quickly, make changes to make it more seamless to drivers, and then determine how regularly you should review the process. 

Question: Can you share the link to your book?

Answer: www.driverreach.com/cdlrecruitingbook 

Question: Because of COVID, ride alongs have dissipated lately and it is harder to find drivers willing to have a passenger right now. Any recommendations? 

Answer: It’s difficult for all of us, and will remain that way until the pandemic subsides. Between now and then, the best we can do is figure out how we can leverage technology to make the recruiting, onboarding, and orientation process as smooth as possible. I’ve heard of creative ways to address the concerns with a passenger, including having someone trail the driver with a video camera. It’s not perfect, but the goal is to protect each other first. A simulator may also be an option if access to one can be made available.

Question: What advice can you give me on how I can attract drivers without spending money on advertising?

Answer: Develop and consistently maintain an internal marketing plan.  Use your social media channels to reflect what you admire; in turn, you’ll attract what you reflect.  Share opportunities like dedicated runs, open positions, new incentives, success celebrations and images and videos that you are proud of. Celebrate your driver heroes at all levels of tenure.  Engage with your own drivers first, consistently, and others will want to join you.

Treat your drivers well, pay them fairly for all work done, respect them, share openings and needs and they will want to help fill them. Your drivers are your best ambassadors. 

Facebook is free. It costs nothing to showcase your brand and the driver experience on social media. Sure, it costs some sweat equity to create it and get it in front of the right people, but it’s no monetary cost. And social media allows you to collect your entire network of current and former drivers in one place. They say your network is your net worth, and so take advantage of it.

Question: Is a monetary referral bonus still competitive?

Answer:  Yes, paid referral bonuses are still very prevalent; in fact, sign-ons and referrals were the first trending increases reported at the start of the current pay cycle which began in Q3 2020.  Paid in a variety of ways intended to reward the referrer initially while also retaining the new employee along the way, fleets often pay an initial large bump with subsequent smaller payouts during the first year of employment. Depending on the size of the fleet, need by job type or market, cost per hire and value placed on driver referrals, payouts range from $200 - $5000. 

Another option is to try to think about things and understand what kind of behavior you want to drive and what kind of behavior you want to continue instead of jumping to compensation and bonuses. As we’ve talked about before, compensation can seem like sugar water in this industry. You can keep trying to use it to incentivize, but then eventually the value add of it goes away and at the end of it, all you’ve been able to do is spend a bunch of money rather than driving real loyalty. Monetary referral bonuses can be valuable, but it needs to be simple and easy to explain because there are some incredibly complex incentive programs out there. Simple to explain and simple to reward are great baselines because then drivers won’t get excluded or unintentionally blocked out from receiving the bonus they thought they had coming to them.

Question: Does having a Facebook group for drivers/the company ever present any negative consequences? This is an idea I've toyed with in the past, but I have been wary due to potential negative backlash.

Answer: If you have a strong culture, your own drivers are your best ambassadors. Don't be afraid to create or support communities that allow your drivers to collaborate and connect!  Create leadership roles that elevate your drivers and allow them to mentor and train.  If a public group is too scary, start with a driver liaison team in a private Facebook group or company hosted zoom meeting that facilitates connections and progress. Allow them to provide feedback without threat and be open to improvements they suggest, and empathetic to their challenges. Your top 10% are strong leaders, but they don't offer the same perspective as a first or third year driver. Enlist drivers at all levels of tenure to ensure well-rounded engagement and feedback. 

You have to put in the work to maintain a Facebook group. If you aren’t going to manage it, don’t bother. But if you have a driver population of 100 or more trucks, there’s a chance your drivers have already created a community, you’re just locked out of it. It’s worth it to take the time to build a community to interact with drivers, you’ll be better off because of it. Interacting with drivers on more than one channel is important for keeping your finger on the pulse. 

Question: What have you guys seen in the market right now that would attract drivers? Sign on bonus, perks, etc?

Answer:  Companies and drivers look at sign-on bonuses differently, depending on priority. Some companies feel sign-on bonuses are necessary, while others feel they are unfairly offered now when they were not to current drivers. Many drivers tell us that the higher the sign-on bonus, the warier they are of the company.  That said, there can be costs to changing jobs related to travel, belongings, orientation, and onboarding so transition bonuses paired with a sound package can be very appealing.   We often find that 1st-year driver earnings are significantly less than full-year drivers so consider what “starting out in the hole” feels like or results in as you make decisions on hiring costs. 

Drivers are also very attracted to offers or pay packages that address unpaid and unproductive time, pay for all miles driven, PTO taken when they need it, achievable bonuses, and affordable benefits. Transparency in pay and schedule is crucial for not only recruiting but retention.

Question: What are some of the top job boards that you/others in the market have utilized to attract new drivers? - outside of Indeed, LinkedIn, Careerbuilder

Answer: There are a good number of industry-leading job boards that are specific to truck drivers. Many of those are integrated partners of DriverReach and can be found at the bottom of DriverReach’s home page (https://www.driverreach.com/).

Question: I recruit for Agricultural Truck Drivers. What's the best way to sell a seasonal truck driver job that you can't give them a start date or guarantee they will get hours?

Answer: As a former driver staffing company owner, we provided drivers to many companies that had needs on a seasonal basis. That would likely be the path of least resistance since a driver staffing company may have drivers available for your seasonal need, and then when that need no longer exists, they can use the driver on other jobs.

Question: What websites have you found to be most helpful to find drivers outside of Facebook?

Answer: Most CDL driver-specific job boards are effective at lead generation. There are also affordable options with agencies that can manage this for you. As shared above, many of those companies are integrated partners of DriverReach and can be found at the bottom of DriverReach’s home page (https://www.driverreach.com/).

Question: If we use a third-party recruiting firm, what's a fair price to pay them for finding me the driver?

Answer: The answer to this can be all over the board. Those prices have been climbing this past year with the increasing demand for CDL drivers. That being said, you often get what you pay for. At the end of the day, if the goal is to add new hires, the company that can get that done for you is worth it. It’s better to pay a little more and actually get driver hires than to have a lower agreed-upon rate but zero hires. Reputation matters. Be sure to ask around before you get too involved.

Question: What about other perks to incentivize retention? Like equipment or home time?

Answer:  These are the top factors reported by both companies with low turnover and drivers who say they are not looking to leave their company:

  • Respect - (described by drivers in SO many ways including steady, strong income, and trusting driver as “captain of ship”)
  • Competitive pay package 
  • Achievable incentives and bonuses that are promoted, reviewed and paid regularly
  • Hometime when scheduled
  • Comfortable air-ride seat
  • SiriusXM in trucks
  • Parking solutions
  • Strong customer relationships (respectful, facilities, etc)

On the equipment side, we have to keep in mind that a truck is where drivers spend most of their time and is often their home, so comfort matters. But since the truck helps them do their job, it also has to work, which is where their relationship with maintenance comes in. You have to ensure that drivers can easily communicate with maintenance, and when drivers share a concern, maintenance must respond quickly in a way that lets drivers know their concerns are valid, but also communicating what happened to their truck and why. Most importantly, that communication has to be conducted in a way that improves respect between drivers and maintenance. People are a perk of any company, and if we invest more in people and communication and view them as a company “perk,” drivers will ultimately stick around and become more loyal.

Now when it comes to home time, it’s about consistency and being direct about how home time works, but also operating with empathy to allow for the unique experiences that force drivers to go home quickly. What we all learned in 2020, is that we have to see each other as human and that drivers will remember how they were treated in some of the tough situations they went through last year because of their employers. Most of all, employers have to understand that drivers aren’t one size fits all and that empathy will allow you to understand the unique needs of each of them.

Question: In regards to finding new drivers. What is more attractive, higher base pay or having incentives?

Answer: Incentives may look attractive in earning potential but they are often difficult to understand, harder to achieve, and are often not promoted in ways that engage early tenure drivers to perform at levels needed to be rewarded. Higher base pay is more attractive to drivers.  Transparency in pay and schedule has historically attracted faster and retained longer. 

Clarity is critical. Drivers are sensitive to smoke and mirrors. Keep the pay structure clear and communicate what it means for a driver’s earning potential upfront. But most of all, consistency is the key to stability and so a higher base pay allows consistency for drivers and is the more attractive option overall.

Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.

Interested in seeing DriverReach’s modern Recruiting and Compliance Management System in action? Request a demo!


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