NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Professional truck drivers advised recruiters to be realistic and honest as they develop relationships with prospective hires.
Three drivers participated in a panel discussion at the Recruitment and Retention Conference on Feb. 20. Conversion Interactive Agency, an advertising firm that specializes in recruitment, hosted the event in conjunction with Transport Topics and American Trucking Associations.
Daniel Walton, a driver for Roehl Transport, said maintaining realistic expectations is key. Roehl Transport ranks No. 76 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.
“You should look at your driver as a client,” Walton said. “It’s really about expectations. [The] highest turnover is in the place where unmet expectations surface.”
Walton said, in his capacity as a trainer, he meets a lot of millennials who are not ready to be away from home for extended periods of time.
Rick Tetreault, a driver for Averitt Express, said recruiters should prepare drivers for the lifestyle change they’re about to experience, such as spending most of their days in a truck cab and waking up early. Averitt Express ranks No. 32 on the for-hire TT 100.
Robert Sitarski, driver for Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport, which comes in at No. 93 on the for-hire TT100, said expectations also should be made clear when it comes to pay.
“If your drivers are averaging $80,000 a year, and this guy’s new to the industry, he’s got to know he’s not going to be making anything near to that when he gets started,” said Sitarski, who has completed local and over-the-road hauls over his 30 years as a driver.
The panelists revealed they value different aspects of the fleets they drive for. Sitarski, who has six kids, said pay, benefits and home time are important to him. Tetreault, whose son also drives for Averitt Express, agreed that home time was a priority. He said, during his 16 years with his company, he has been able to make it home every weekend except one.
Walton said his company prompts drivers with a survey every time they return home. He said this is an opportunity to ask for more miles and more variety in his runs.
“I just want to see things,” Walton said. “I want to see the country.”
The drivers said they enjoyed open-door communication policies with managers, charity events and team cookouts as ways to build trust and camaraderie.
Workplace environments and dispatch offices also make a difference in terms of a driver’s experience with a company.
“As a driver, the first thing you see every day is operations,” Sitarski said. “You see the dispatcher, you see their attitude. It plays a big role. If you see a dispatcher looking at you with a scowl on their face, it makes you start off terrible.”
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