Toni Tovi knows something about driver recruiting in this new environment. She started Bright Flag Recruiting in 2018 and matured the business through the pandemic. The company hires drivers for last-mile contractors and independent carriers, both CDL and non-CDL, as well as mechanics, operations managers, and other admin support positions.
Before starting Bright Flag, Tovi gained fleet experience firsthand as an investor in four FedEx Ground routes. As a contractor, Tovi immersed herself in the full scope of fleet operations, from vehicle procurement, driver hiring, and onboarding to payroll.
“It was drinking from the firehose on every level,” she said. “I really got immersed in that space.”
Begin the Process
Hire an internal recruiter or external firm?
One of the first questions growing organizations ask is whether to create an in-house staff recruiter position or outsource. In this decision, consider the value of your time, Tovi said.
Break down the hours you’ve spent on recruiting and divide that by the fee you’d pay to a recruiting service. Then, take that per-hour rate and compare it to your salary. This calculation often reveals that your time is better spent in other ways, such as scaling the business.
Know the types of recruiting firms.
Tovi said that fleet operators just starting to engage with a driver recruiting firm must understand the types.
Some recruiting firms specialize in temporary drivers or temp-to-hire. Another type is a full-service recruiting agency that finds permanent drivers and other positions, places them for the organization, and charges a fee for each placement.
Operators are assessed fees on a per-hire or month-to-month subscription model that guarantees a certain number of monthly placements. The latter is better suited to meet uneven seasonal demands, Tovi said.
Vet the driver recruitment firm.
The next step is to investigate the firm you’re thinking of hiring. One tried-and-true way is by checking out online reviews.
Be sure to seek out reviews from the hiring company and the drivers they’ve hired. In their reviews, do the drivers say the recruiting firm did its job by creating a warm handoff to the company? Did the firm properly explain what the job entails and the organization's culture so the drivers have full transparency into what they're getting into?
“If a driver offers a rave review of a recruitment firm, that driver is much more likely to last with the company than a firm just trying to fill a seat,” she said. “Having that feedback from the driver is a key component to substantiating the claims that the recruiting firm is selling you.”
Don’t stop with a couple of reviews. Tovi recommended asking for multiple referrals regarding different position types in the different markets the firm serves.
Understand the New Candidates
With the Great Resignation, remote jobs, automation, and now AI, the work environment is changing faster than in any other period in history. Candidates for driving jobs are aware of the new zeitgeist. They understand the explosion of e-commerce and that last-mile driving jobs are a hot commodity.
Know the new demands.
They’re also aware of corporate perks like free gourmet lunches, espresso bars, and napping pods through social media. And while they wouldn’t expect those at a driving job, they still wonder what extras the employer will do for them.
And they’re not afraid to advocate for themselves. “Be prepared to hear candidates asking about paid mental health days,” Tovi said. What’s your response?
Address pay disparity.
Potential hires will be cognizant of pay scales in the overall market, particularly with recent news of union-driven wage hikes at UPS.
Tovi said to explain to candidates that they can’t walk off the street and fall into a $45-an-hour gig — they need tenure with that organization.
Tovi sets the stage with the candidate by saying they can work toward the higher paying goal by using this immediate driving job as a stepping stone. “And then in two to five years, you can go and apply for that well-paying union job, and we're happy to be the conduit to that,” she said.
Know what motivates them.
Employers must continually take the pulse of potential hires to understand what motivates them. They want to know the culture of your organization before they decide to join, Tovi said.
They also want more of a relationship with their peers. Do you have social gatherings, barbecues, or a night out at Top Golf?
Understand how far you’ll go to address these motivators.