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How To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers

May 9, 2022

how to recruit owner operator drivers

A​ lot of fleet operators are interested in how to recruit owner operator drivers. Having an owner operator fleet can make your life a lot simpler, because you won’t be the one responsible for the trucks.

S​ince an owner operator is effectively an independent contractor who owns their own truck, they’re responsible for things like maintenance and insurance costs. But learning how to recruit owner operator drivers is different from company drivers.

O​wner operators are, by necessity, a different breed. They’re much more independent and entrepreneurial. Plus, being an owner operator is riskier than being a company driver. So, the job itself has to be more attractive.

I​f you want to recruit an owner operator for your fleet, here’s what you need to know.

owner operator driving in their truck

W​hat Is An Owner Operator?

A​n owner operator is someone who owns their own truck, and often their own trailer. They contract with shipping companies to deliver cargo. Because they own the truck, they’re responsible for maintenance costs.

T​hey’re also responsible for paying tolls, securing the necessary permits, and following the federal regulations for motor carriers. That removes a lot of administrative burdens from the shipper, not to mention the financial costs involved.

I​n a sense, an owner operator is just like any other independent contractor. It’s just that, given the expense of buying and maintaining a truck and trailer, the stakes for them are a bit higher than for most contractors.

T​he Cost of Losing An Owner Operator

B​efore we talk about how to recruit owner operator drivers, let’s go over the cost of owner operator turnover. Losing a driver and having to recruit a new one is always going to be more expensive than keeping the drivers you have.

T​he cost of owner operator turnover can range from as little as $3500 to over $10,000. Even though an owner operator is an independent contractor, they still require some training to make sure they follow the policies and procedures that you have in place. Every fleet works a little differently, and things work better when each driver is familiar with the way your fleet works.

P​lus, they’re familiar with your clients. They already work well with them. And, perhaps most importantly, each owner operator represents revenue for your business. When you lose one, you’re losing money. That’s a truck that’s not on the road, carrying products for you.

Owner operators will need training to get up to speed with the company

O​nce you’ve got a new owner operator recruited, you’ll have to spend time and money training them. Then it will take them a while to get used to how things are done in your fleet. They won’t be as efficient as the driver they’re replacing, not at first. So, even when you’ve got the new driver out on the road, it will take some time before they’re generating as much revenue for you as their predecessor.

O​ne thing that’s often overlooked is the cost that you incur right before you have to replace an owner operator. When a person is dissatisfied with their job, they don’t quit immediately. It takes time to realize that they want to leave. During that time, they’re dissatisfaction causes their job performance to decline.

T​hey’ll be less dedicated and less efficient. They’ll show less interest in the job overall. As a result, you’ll probably be losing money even before they leave.

All of this means that it’s in your best interest to keep your owner operator happy so that you minimize owner operator turnover. Plus, having a low turnover rate is something which will make you more appealing to an owner operator, making recruitment easier when you need to do it.

O​f course, it’s impossible to please everyone. You’re going to have some turnover. It’s inevitable. Even if all of your owner operators love working for you, eventually they’ll get a better offer from someone else, or they’re personal circumstances will change, and they’ll leave. That’s why, no matter how hard you work to prevent turnover, you need to know how to recruit owner operator drivers.

recruiting owner operators

H​ow To Recruit Owner Operator Drivers

R​ecruiting owner operators is not like recruiting company drivers. The job itself is fairly different, since there’s a lot more risk to the driver. Plus, owner operators are more experienced on average than company drivers, and probably have a very good idea of their own skill and their value as drivers. All of that means your recruiting strategies have to be a bit different.

U​se Facebook

N​ot that long ago, this would have seemed like strangely unprofessional advice. But Facebook has begun to fulfill a lot of roles nobody really expected it to. It’s no longer just a social network. It’s now, effectively, a news outlet, retail venue, message board, and, yes, a job board.

7​0% of adults in the US use Facebook. That means you can expect 70% of the available owner operators to be on Facebook, as well. So, advertising your job on Facebook will let you reach 70% of the possible candidates. That’s better than any of the traditional means of listing a job.

B​ut it’s not just about the number of operators you might reach. Facebook lets you target your advertising in such a way that you’re all but guaranteed to reach the entire pool of candidates using it. In other words, if you advertise your job opening on Facebook, it’s a sure bet that 70% of the available owner operators in the country will see your ad.

A​nd if you’re worried about figuring out how to advertise on Facebook, don’t be. You can simply use a professional Facebook advertiser. That’s right- people have made a career out of designing ads for Facebook. They can ensure that your ad is targeted properly so that a) pretty much every owner operator on Facebook will see it and b) nobody who isn’t an owner operator will see it. That way you aren’t wasting money on advertising a job to people who don’t work in that field.

A​dvertising on Facebook is also great because we all know that everybody spends a lot of time on it. It’s not just that 70% of adults have a Facebook account, it’s that almost everyone with a Facebook account spends a significant amount of their free time looking at it.

I​t commands more attention than virtually any other advertising platform in existence. There’s a great chance that someone will be reading your ad on Facebook instead of paying attention to the ads playing on their tv at the same time.

D​on’t Neglect Print Ads

F​acebook advertising should be the priority, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use as many advertising channels as possible. Prints ads are still very effective. Surveys have shown that owner operators still read printed magazines at a high rate. Placing your job ads there might be the key to reaching the 30% of them who still don’t have a Facebook account.

I​n fact, you should place your ad in as many different spots as you can. Job boards, newspapers, and forums are all good. The more people who see your ad, the better. Plus, if one person sees your ad showing up in multiple places, they’re probably going to be more inclined to look into it. Often, people ignore an ad they only see once.

B​ut it’s hard to ignore an ad you see three or four times, especially when it’s a job ad and you’re in need of work. So, list that job opening wherever you can.

S​pread the Word

I​n trucking, as in everything else, networking is key. It’s a fact of life that in almost any job field, your connections tend to matter more than your credentials. We don’t like to admit that this is true, but it is. Your connections help you to find jobs, and once you get an interview those same connections help you to land them. So, one key to how to recruit owner operator drivers is using your connections.

I​n part, that’s because people don’t like to hire somebody with no connection to them. They want to hire the guy who comes highly recommended by a friend or coworker. They have more trust that the hire will work out when that’s the case. It’s true for owner operators, too.

T​hey’re more inclined to work with somebody who comes recommended by a friend than with a company they’ve never heard of at all. Remember, their job is inherently risky. They don’t want to take a job if they have any doubts about the employer.

S​o, if an owner operator is picking between two jobs- one he saw advertised on in a magazine, and one that a friend told him about- he’s probably choosing the one his friend told him about. This means that you should encourage word of mouth when you have a job opening.

B​ear in mind that all forms of advertising already encourage that, but it’s a good idea to make sure that you let your drivers know there’s an opening. They’ll tell their friends about it, and you’ll probably wind up with lots of great candidates for the job that way.

What To Do When You Find Recruits

It’s not enough just to get owner operators to respond to your ad. You’ve got to get them to take the job. Remember, these aren’t company drivers. If they work for you, they’re using a truck they own, covered by insurance they pay for. The stakes are higher for them, and they’re inclined to be pickier about the jobs they take.

You’ve got to convince them that the job you’re offering is the best one for them. Here are some tips on how to recruit owner operator drivers who respond to your ad.

Create Trust

Switching carriers has a monetary cost to any owner operator. It takes a few weeks to make the switch and start bringing in money and during that time they still have to pay insurance and make payments on their truck.

One of the keys to getting them to choose a new carrier is to create trust. For that, you’ll probably need the help of your current owner operators. Owner operators believe one another. Testimonials from your current drivers will go a long way toward helping to recruit new ones.

Film your current drivers talking about how much they enjoy working for you. There’s not much else that will work as well to create trust right off the bay. If the owner operator you’re trying to recruit can see that other owner operators like working for you, they’re a lot more likely to make the switch.

Don’t Treat Them Like Company Drivers

Whether you’re recruiting owner operators for the first time, or just trying to figure out why you keep losing owner operators, this is key. Owner operators are driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. The reason they aren’t company drivers is that they liked the idea of being their own boss and earning more money.

Your company policies need to reflect that. The regulations and policies you use with company drivers can’t be applied to owner operators. Let them be their own boss, and you’ll be amazed at how effective and efficient they will be.

Be Patient

Recruiting an owner operator is a long term thing. You’re asking them to make a big, potentially very expensive decision. It might take them a while to make up their minds. Be patient. You probably don’t want an owner operator who makes quick, rash decisions anyway.

Conclusion

A lot of carriers prefer working with owner operators because they don’t have to be managed as closely, and they take care of their own trucks. It makes life a lot easier for the carriers. Owner operators are often more reliable and efficient drivers than company drivers, too. By following these tips, you’ll learn how to recruit owner operator drivers in no time.

About Booker Transportation

Booker Trans is 100% Owner Operator. It is our belief that an Independent Owner is the best way to get a customers freight delivered timely and safely. Booker is a leading Refrigerated Carrier providing the best lease options in the industry for today’s Owner Operators. Monthly and Yearly Awards, Longevity Bonuses, and the Free tires for Life of Lease Program, are just a few examples of what Booker Trans offers the Owner Operator. Booker Trans has built it’s success upon working partnerships with Customers, as well as Agency Relationships built over the last 20 years. Those same relationships are what makes consistent year round freight possible.

Are you interested in becoming an owner operator driver or getting into the logistics industry?

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