Chad Hendricks hosted "the Dr. Phil of Trucking" on his “Recruit and Retain” podcast, who had five great points worth sharing with our readers. Charles Gracey of Arka Express shared how he earned that nickname through his observations and practices for recruiting and retaining truck drivers.
The son of a former truck driver and terminal manager, as well as a former driver himself, Gracey has a wealth of experience and understanding to draw on to help him be a successful recruiter, retainer, and marketer at Arka Express. He outlined five key points during the interview:
- Get back to basics
- Listen to what they’re looking for
- Be flexible and supportive
- Get marketing and recruiting in sync
- Always show your appreciation to your drivers
Get back to basics. Above all else, Gracey stresses being approachable and personable when talking to prospective drivers. You will need to talk to recruits about pay, bonuses, and the like because these are the conversations every company must have. Find out what they want and be transparent about what you want. Be willing to have a lengthy conversation to cover that ground (Gracey says he spends typically 45 minutes to an hour on an initial phone call).
Listen to what they’re looking for. Beginning with that initial call, find out everything you can about that driver, such as what they want out of a trucking job, more money, more home time, or room for growth. Gracey believes that stretching out that conversation can reveal what the driver wants MOST, which can help reveal if this is a good fit for both company and driver.
Along with this, you can get to the heart of their pain points and the reasons they’re looking to leave their current job. Gracey lists three primary reasons as the main culprits of driver turnover he hears:
- The driver is a number, not a person
- The driver has no input or voice in everyday operations
- The driver doesn’t get the miles that they want
Be flexible and supportive. Gracey is so dedicated to recruiting and helping drivers that he literally practices 24/7 recruiting; he makes himself available at any time to talk to a driver. Flexibility is necessary to effectively recruit drivers because you need to work around their schedule. Gracey stresses the need for constant communication with recruits and being sympathetic to the driver's needs.
If you touch base multiple times throughout the process and talk with them directly, drivers are more likely to share their concerns and you can address potential problems ahead of time before they drop out of the application process or leave your company down the road. Gracey takes it one step further by acting as a driver support contact after hire. Managers will call Gracey to help mediate driver concerns, which has led to Gracey’s reputation at Arka Expressas the “Dr. Phil of Trucking”. That level of dedication and trust, as well as a visible demonstration of management caring about the driver, will prove to drivers you mean what you say and you want them to stay.
Get marketing and recruiting in sync. On a larger level, this is a critical step in navigating a competitive driver market. Gracey mentions the importance of social media and generating content that helps you stand out from other companies like videos, posts, and pictures.
Gracey also likes to utilize social platforms during the recruiting lead generation process. He joins and participates in trucking group pages on Facebook to reach more people and uses Messenger to directly contact potential drivers who leave questions or comments on his posts. He even works on improving recruiting and marketing simultaneously by getting feedback by visitors to the company’s pages - he will ask anyone who likes or comments on posts for their feedback, even if they aren’t job hunting just so he can make the social media pages better and more attractive to drivers.
Gracey makes the same arguments that we often do: it only costs time, drivers are already on social media, and it’s very easy to post across platforms now, so why not do it?
Always show your appreciation to drivers. Gracey lists a few ways Arka shows their appreciation for their drivers. Some are special, like the veterans program he helps run which offers extended training and special support to vets. More wide-ranging is a weekly Friday group lunch they hold for all of their employees at the terminal. It’s a simple gesture, but it can mean a lot to a driver who’s used to being treated like a number.
None of these concepts are rocket science, but they take a major time investment. You need to evaluate if you have a Charles Gracey at your company. If you don’t have one, he’ll pay for himself 100 times over once he takes your turnover down by 10%. If you do have one, are you letting the reigns go?
The size of your organization dictates how many Charles Graceys you need, but everyone needs at least one. Give your Charles this e-book to choose the top three strategies your company needs and start executing on the plan this quarter.