“Okay, let’s review where we’re at.”
Jack, head of Bright Mountain Trucking, stood beside a flip chart pad. Several more sheets torn from the pad clung to the walls at the front of the conference room.
“We’ve crossed out lots of ideas and added plenty more, but this is the bottom line.
We can’t go on like this. We keep doing the same things over and over to recruit truck drivers and it’s not getting us anywhere. We’re spending too much time and money. Worse, we’re running in place and not getting anywhere. We need to change, right? We need to recruit more good drivers and we need to keep them longer. It’s time to do something.”
Heads nodded affirmatively around the room.
“That’s what we’ve defined as the problem.”
“Okay, and we have four potential solutions, all of which might work and they all involve some type of change:
First, we can put more money and effort into what we already are doing. More money into newspaper and magazine advertising, more signage on our trucks, and so on. In other words, more of a good thing. Do more, do it better.
Second, we can try to create a better identity…a self-analysis of our uniqueness. Right now it’s kind of fuzzy. Then, let applicants know who we are and what we stand for. That might attract more job candidates with similar values to our own. And they might stay longer because they believe in what we believe.
Third we can try to be more creative. Try to stand out more with our recruiting message…be different than other carriers who we all agree use the same basic formula to attract drivers. Most of the time you could cross off a carrier’s name and replace it with another trucker and nobody would know the difference.
Or four, we can try some new things. Try to use “best practices”, for lack of a better term, to modernize our recruiting and create more and better streams of applicants.
We wrote down some pluses for each approach. Now for the negatives. Fritz, what do you see as a problem with the first strategy…putting more money into what we are already doing?”
“Well, if it’s not working so well now, how good will it work later? It’s like drilling into an old oil well. We’re getting some oil out but it’s not enough”.
“And there’s derricks all around us doing the same thing. On the other hand, maybe we need to just drill deeper. Bigger ads. Nice pictures. Of course that means spend more money, right?
“If that’s what it takes, that’s what we need to do.”
“Okay, Belinda, what about the second strategy…create a new and improved identity of who we are and then publicize it.”
“That’s a big change. The problem is we really don’t know if that will do us any good. Plus we already know who we are…we’re a family-owned company who started with one truck and grew big over the years through hard work. And we could spend a lot of money and time trying to create a new image.”
“Yeah, but isn’t that the case for any of these strategies?”
“Okay, Cary, what about Strategy Three—trying to be different in our communications than other carriers?”
“I don’t know, Jack. If everyone is using the same formula to attract applicants, then it must be working.”
“You know, ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’ Other carriers wouldn’t be doing what they do if they didn’t get results. They’d be doing something different.”
“Yeah, but we’re doing what we do and we’re not getting the results we want. I bet you a dollar to a doughnut there are tons of carriers out there who do the same thing because they don’t know any better.”
“Fourth, what about new improved strategies that we aren’t using or aren’t using in the right way, Bud?”
“That’s easy, Jack. Any time you try something new, there’s a risk. You have no track record. You’re just throwing spaghetti against the wall. The more creative you are, the more risk you are taking. Better to stick with what you know.”
“Okay management team, that’s where we’re at. So what will it be? What do you think is the best way to go?”
Lou Graziani: creator of Bright Mountain Trucking
“transportation guru, training expert, and imagineer.”
This story continues…