MARK G. GARDNER
CEO, Avatar Management Services, Inc.
Recruiting drivers probably is the most difficult challenge motor carriers face. Everyone agrees — it’s a jungle out there. But, believe it or not, some people have a tougher job than you do.
Consider the plight of the poor TV executive who has to fill 168 hours a week and compete with 200 other channels! With all those choices, the fickle viewer is just one click away from another show. Getting someone to tune in is tough. Keeping them there is even tougher.
The Reality of the Situation
Today, reality TV rules all. The current darling of this genre is lifestyle programming. Talent scouts roam the countryside looking for a different — and entertaining — kind of duck.
We have “Call of the Wildman,” starring Ernie Brown Jr., aka the Turtleman. He hunts for vicious snapping turtles with his bare feet in Animal Planet’s top hit. Shirtless, and nearly toothless, he gives out a big, old country yell every time he catches one.
Then there’s “Hillbilly Handfishin.’ ” The name says it all. Imagine a big old catfish, napping in the river, until our hero comes along.
In “Man Vs. Wild,” the hero is released in a hostile environment to live off the land and survive with basically nothing.
“Naked and Afraid” is billed as the Everest of survival challenges. A hero and heroine, who don’t know each other, are sent naked into the world’s most extreme environments where they try to survive for a few weeks. (Seriously, I’m not making this up).
Meet the Robertsons
Compared to these, you might think that a show about people who make duck calls would be far too mild to get anyone’s attention. But you’d be wrong. “Duck Dynasty” features the Robertson family from Louisiana. The show’s third-season finale in April attracted 9.6 million viewers!
If you shop at Wal-Mart, you’ll find the Robertsons’ faces on everything from T-shirts to self-help books. How could such heavily bearded people (the menfolk, that is) wearing camouflage be so popular?
First, they’re different, and they’re funny — often very funny. But that’s not enough. This is actually a show about traditional family values. They’re religious. They’re entrepreneurs. They’re a close-knit family. And they’re knowledgeable about a number of topics. They’re positive, can-do people.
Recruiting Drivers, Duck Dynasty Style
So what can “Duck Dynasty” teach us about driver recruiting?
Boring won’t work.
Saying the same old things every other carrier says won’t work.
Blending in won’t work.
Take a page from the Robertsons’ book. Start with your values. Build your recruiting campaign on substance, not platitudes. Communicate your values, like the Robertsons do. Applicants who think like you will be attracted to you. Those who have different values will go somewhere else. That’s a good thing! They would have quit in a few months anyway.
It’s Time to Get Personal
Can you build a campaign around the story of just one driver? You bet. Fundraising organizations do it every day. It’s enticing. We don’t care about thousands of people who suffer in an earthquake, but we’re glued to the TV for weeks when a little girl goes missing. Never underestimate the power of a personal story.
And please, don’t show another picture of a truck. They know you have trucks. They’ve seen your trucks. Show them a close-up of one content driver. Be different. Stand out. Show them why you’re the best choice.
Get rid of those platitudes, those useless statements that mean nothing. We call these “Well, I would hope so!” statements. Paid orientation. Well, I would hope so! Dependable trucks. Well, I would hope so! A commitment to safety. Well, I would hope so!
Feeling the bottom of the muddy pond with your toes or quacking the right note might work for turtles and ducks, but not drivers. But you can still learn from these shows. Heed the call of “Duck Dynasty,” and build your campaign around what really matters: your values. Attract drivers who are aligned with what you have to offer and your retention rates will soar.
In case you were interested, the fourth season of “Duck Dynasty” starts this month. Quack!
Mark G. Gardner is Chief Executive Officer of Avatar Management Services, Inc. You can view this post and others on his blog, reMARKables. It has been reposted with his permission. To get more information about Avatar Management Services, check their website or contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-728-2827.