Q&A: Reducing Unqualified Leads in the New Driver Recruitment Market
On September 23, FATj's Corey Wagner, was joined by Conversion Interactive Agency's Priscilla...
Watsontown Trucking Company has been around for 77 years, with a family-type atmosphere that entices many employees and executives to stick around. But while annual driver turnover is usually 30-40% lower than the industry norm, recruitment remains a constant necessity.
Gerald Woolcock, the Director of Recruiting and Driver Relations, has been in the trucking business for 34 years as a driver and an executive, with almost 20 of them at Watsontown. When he took over recruiting, he originally continued the approach used by his predecessor, advertising on Craigslist, Indeed. com, Monster, local radio and, for a short while, even newsprint. However, many times he wasn’t satisfied with the quality of applicants through those channels.
Woolcock tried a couple of recruitment services he found online, but they didn’t work as well as he had hoped. “When drivers click on an all-inclusive website, their inquiry is blasted out to dozens, if not a hundred, different trucking companies,” he explained. “Drivers get so many calls they get frustrated and just stop responding.” A pay-per-application service he tried was a bit more successful, but if a driver wasn’t hired or didn’t qualify, the money still had to be paid.
After these experiences, Woolcock shied away from trying out another service he hadn’t heard of until he spoke with Tom McKenna of FATj.com.
“When I first spoke with Gerald, there was an understandable hesitation about using a company he had never heard of before,” says Amanda Fasano, Director of Client Engagement at FusionRL, the parent company of FATj.com.
Woolcock agrees, “To be honest, had they not reached out to me like they did, I probably still wouldn’t look at FATj.com. But you know, they said some interesting things during our first call, and I’m glad we kept talking.”
McKenna explained to him how Watsontown’s campaign with FATj.com would be successful, based on an analysis of their hiring areas, pay packages, and company offerings, as well as by comparing the results of similar campaigns derived from internal data. Woolcock talked it over with his Vice President and Director of Safety. He did some research and spoke with some FATj.com clients, who seemed very, very pleased. “They have a great customer base, with carriers that are much larger than we are. I thought if they’re doing amazing things for these other carriers, I don’t think we can go wrong,” Woolcock says.
“Frankly, I’m going to need a full-time assistant to help process the applications that are coming in, at this rate." – Gerald Woolcock
Within the first few weeks, Watsontown saw about an 18% increase in acceptable applications, and about a 23% increase in overall applications. “I just had a meeting with our finance administrator yesterday about my advertising budget,” related Woolcock, “and she was amazed at the amount of applications we have in processing.”
In fact, Watsontown recently had its largest training class for new drivers, ever. It could have been even bigger, but Woolcock wanted to maintain a quality training experience. He now has enough new drivers to schedule training four weeks in advance. “I’m a goal-oriented kind of person,” he says, “and would like to put us at over four hundred drivers and four hundred trucks by the end of the year. I would like to see it happen by the end of the third quarter, and that is possible. It would mean a record-setting year for recruitment at our company.”
Due to his off-site safety and operations meetings, Woolcock can only spend a couple of days a week processing applications. “Frankly, I’m going to need a full-time assistant to help process the applications that are coming in, at this rate. It’s very good for the company. As we pick up drivers, we continue to pick up trade lanes. We can keep the drivers busy and keep the per-truck revenue up.”