Here are some tips for growing your trucking company because one of the most difficult things that owners operators will face is growing from one truck operation to hiring drivers. (If that is his/her desire)
BONUS: Before starting your trucking company, you should create a mission statement. Think about what problem or need your trucking company will provide solutions for in the marketplace. What is the mindset your want your drivers to have and express?
Make every driver learn the mission statement and it will help produce the culture and attitude you want from your drivers. Also, If there is a niche that you go after, it will help with marketing for direct shippers.
As for drivers, what benefit can you provide that is missing at other companies they drive for?
As for shippers and receivers what can the focus be to provide value to them? For example, guaranteed on time delivery. (NOT cheaper freight rates) Or maybe you will specialize in a type of product or area, etc.
If your company has already been started with you as an owner operator, that's cool. It's never too late to think about this. Based on your current operation what is your ideal driver? What is the driver's need or desires that will best be served by what your company can provide?
Most trucking companies don't do this. They ignore the writing on the wall and they pay a price for it with high turnover and many driver complaints. Their service is easily replaceable by the lowest bid.
Don't ignore the writing on the wall.
I'm not talking about their driving record, that's a standard focus. I'm talking about hiring drivers who know what you're company is about and it's in line with their personal goals.
I'm talking about....
I have talked to enough drivers and driven long enough to have a good idea about what keeps quality drivers. I have also talked to enough shippers and receivers to understand what was missing and needed in the trucking industry more.
Take the tips for growing your company that makes sense and dismiss the others.
My number 1 tip, which I am sure you will agree with as a driver but you must also adapt as business owner. Don't trick drivers into driving for you under false pretense.
Tell them exactly what to expect and let them know when things change and why. This will keep your turnover lower and with happy, more loyal drivers.
Don't allow recruiters to lie to them, if you get to that level. Meanwhile, don't you lie to them about what to expect. Tell them exactly what to expect so that you get compatible truckers.
This is something that most trucking companies will ignore. Especially independent operators because it's just them.
Have a mission statement. What will your company stand for in the trucking industry? What value will you bring to the marketplace?
How do you want your company to be represented?
If trucking companies did this it would help them to make choices and rules that created the type of reputation and operation with higher driver retention and lower driver turn over.. People like me and your own drivers and customers would promote the company. All of this would eventually result in higher profitability and ease of growth.
Hiring drivers means you are going to another level in your business. There are other things that you need to do in order to be in legal compliance with Federal Regulations. This is found in section 391.51 of FMCS Regs. and also 391.23
Qualifications and Disqualification of Drivers
Depending on the state, driver and situation you might also need to take other steps. I don't know all of these details. I seek professionals for this. This is a lot information that you need to put together.
It's like taxes. If you have it put together well and in order, during an audit, things go smoothly. Have something missing or out of place then they will go over your operation with a fine tooth comb. It's possible to do it yourself but a person that does this as a business will get it done quickly, efficiently and usually flawlessly saving you time and money on the back end. There are businesses that do this.
Your equipment is important. It has several ways of influencing how you are perceived and therefor dealt with by drivers, customers and even the DOT.
Appearance is your first impression unless you are cold calling then of course your attitude and content of conversation matters more.
But when drivers see your trucks rolling or on the yard, they will pass judgment. When the DOT see you approaching and rolling across the scales, they will pass judgment. They don't know you.
When driver get in your trucks they will desire for much more or be pleasantly surprised. So some small things could matter a lot.
Trucks should be kept clean and running well. Trailers should be clean and have properly functioning landing gear and tandems
You want responsible drivers with good work ethic. You want the right type of person for the right type of position. Single drivers or people with strong relationships will be better for over the road. Local drivers are better with families and maturity. (I realize those are generalizations. There are exceptions but this is for quick reading, I will elaborate if you want coaching).
In other words don't hire the first person that comes in your door and make them do what you need. Hire people based on what you need them to do. (Also your hiring process should include a focus on personal development. I explain this in coaching as well)
You might wonder, "How will i get these types of drivers?" You hire quality and you continue to hone and nurture them with instruction and a great work environment. It's like looking for a marriage partner.
Sell your service based on quality and customization not price point. These days many carriers compete in the marketplace trying to undercut each other. It's hard to grow a profitable trucking company that way. As a smaller operation, it's better to offer customized and/or quality service.
How can you differentiate yourself from other trucking companies. Also what other trucking industry operations can you synergistically work with instead of compete against.
Shippers and Receivers should
Truck drivers are tired of being treated like disposable necessities. They want and need (according to Maslow) to be treated with respect and dignity. Of course you need the quality of driver to match this expectation. Which is why I said you should hire carefully.
Shippers and receivers also deserve to be treated with respect and dignity by drivers as well as the company and office personnel.
There should be a mutual agreement about them not holding your equipment and drivers up. There should also be a mutual agreement about you having someone there on time and with a great attitude.
Have a reputation for being a place that drivers love working at. Have a reputation for being a trucking company that shippers, receivers and brokers love to do business with.
You do this by being better than average.
You could offer things such as...
Seems like these things might be costly. First of all it doesn't have to cost retail prices. You could get people entering coaching or speaking to provide if you don't have the money. Or you could barter services. You could also see if the drivers have people who are in businesses related and offer them the opportunity to provides services at discounts or for exchange of exposure.
I would be willing to come in and speak to local trucking companies about personal development, attitude, trucking success and health locally for a fee.
Find causes in the community that fit your organization. Become involved in a meaningful way which includes your drivers and their family members. Make it part of your existence. Make sure it fits what your company represent.
Your company website will have more information about why shippers, receivers and brokers should use you. It should explain why drivers should drive for you.
It should have contact information, your story of why you exist, what benefits you provide to the marketplace.
It should have your logo, slogan/motto and mission statement.
While building a website takes a huge amount of time and commitment it is not too difficult for most people to be able to do. If you want to build your own company website it is doable. If you have kids, this might be a great project for them to work on assuming you have started them on it very early on prior to actually wanting to expand.
However, if your time and image is a priority you might want to get the website done by a professional. I actually provide this service but can not take on new clients right now as I am rebuilding some of my old projects. If you want a website built, just fill in the contact form.
Take Your Time and Do it Right
1. Hire the type of drivers - ask question to give you insight to the drivers mind. Qualities that you want are. (Reason why?) Thinkers with good work ethic, moral character, goal oriented. Ideally drivers should be open to personal development, self improvement and have a positive attitude and care about how they treat others.
Ask, "Why do you want to work for MY company?"
Note: You need to have good reasons in order for the potential drivers to be able to give good answers. The reasons can be proudly displayed on your company website.
2. Hire the right person for the job. Hire local drivers for local deliveries instead of making OTR drivers wait around to deliver. This is for companies that have a lot of local customers or freight going out from home. Hire OTR drivers for staying out. Hire regional drivers for those positions. Don't lie to drivers about what they will be doing.
Let over the road drivers drive over the road if that is what they expected.
3. Keep quality drivers - Pay the well and treat them right and you will keep them. Also see #5.
4. Have adequate and quality equipment. It might cost extra up front but it could either attract the right people or repel. It needs to be not just safe and operational but also attractive.
5. Make sure your customers respect your time and drivers in exchange for quality service. If they hold your equipment and drivers up demand compensation and share it with the driver. But if late give customers discounts (see #6.)
6. Market your business to Shippers, Receivers and Brokers based on quality of service and/or customization not price point. This might take longer but will be rewarding and profitable. Build a reputation of being on time every time. Have a guarantee that offers discount for service failure. (That's why you hire quality drivers with the right attitude. See #1)
6. Offer your drivers more than a job. Training for business, finance, health, relationships, parenting by 3rd parties or other connections. Group plans, benefits, memberships to things such as gym, insurance, etc.
7. See your business as a community asset not just a profit center. How will you give back as a business and create a culture in the work place that represents something bigger than just another transportation or logistics company? When you can answer that, you will be unstoppable.
8. Have a company website designed. Your company website could be effective at sharing what your company is about, what your vision is and what you expect out of the drivers you are looking for.
It should have your story and contact information. Videos from your drivers, employees or customers as testimonials are powerful tools for growth.
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