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Driver Recruitment Rule #1: Good In, Good Out – Bad In, Bad Out

March 11, 2024 | RMW Capabilities

By Doug Smith


 Doug Smith

 Director of Client Relations




I am a firm believer in the statement, “Good In, Good Out; Bad In, Bad Out”. It’s simply a proven truth: the best results and experiences are a sum of all that preceded the outcome.

Of course, not everything goes according to plan. As Mike Tyson reminded us, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Trucking gets punched in the face every day through driver turnover.

All carriers deal with turnover at some level, and blame cannot be limited to one department. But here’s a bold truth on the subject - “Bad In, Bad Out (and out the back door)”. Bad hires yield bad results.

That means stick rate increases, and keeping drivers in your trucks, begins with their application – not in orientation, not when they seat their truck, and definitely not when they encounter their first question or concern.

Between December 2022 and December 2023, I helped lead a driver recruiting team that knocked approximately 60 basis points off our responsible driver segment’s turnover in one year. How? We moved from processing to real conversations. “Good In, Good Out (out there winning)”.

I challenged my team not to blindly process every app toward orientation, employment, and likely abandonment within the first 120 days:

  • Did they complete a full app? 
  • Did they give us signatures? 
  • Do they have a CDL-A? 
  • Is their Med-Card valid? 
  • Do they meet the requirements and guidelines? 
  • Can they fog a mirror? 

Ok, you got me – I’m kidding about the last one (maybe).

Instead, I encouraged them to emphasize the driver’s “Culture” fit for our company, our team:

  • Are they responsive in a timely manner?
  • Do they give you exactly what you asked for?
  • Did they push back or become evasive during your conversations?
  • Were they disrespectful, vulgar, or dismissive as you’re helping them?
  • How did they talk about their current or past employers?

Recently, I listened to an episode of Driven Too Far - The Truth About Trucking, where my friend Mike Coble, a Partner at Recruit-Hire-Retain, had this to say about hiring culture: “Retention begins with that first phone call … when recruiters slow down a little bit more and look for a better candidate, and are given the opportunity to make that decision to say yes or no – that candidate becomes a longer lasting company driver.”

We must allow and encourage our frontline people to have real conversations and own the “is this candidate a good fit?” decision and move on to a better fit if the answer is “No”. We, in our office, warehouse, and shop environments do this with every other talent acquisition role in our businesses. I know I have had my share of “those” emails in my professional career. Why do we not in Driver Recruiting?

Retention is everyone’s responsibility, but it has to start somewhere. In trucking, it starts in Recruiting.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can aid your retention efforts, feel free to contact us by calling 800-209-8536 and requesting our Client Services Team or completing our contact form here.  

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