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The Trucking Conundrum

Hiring is tough for many different verticals and in many ways, the trucking industry is nothing more than a microcosm of those hiring fails and pains.

Maybe it's time for trucking to undergo a rebrand? Maybe it's much more than that? That's why Chad & Cheese join the Yard Jockeys podcast to talk about the ins and outs of recruiting. They put their heads together to try and figure out trucking's problem and come up with a possible solution. B.J. and the Bear from the '70s anyone?

INTRO (1s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Chad (28s):

Welcome to a special episode of the Chad and Cheese. Why is it special? Well, if you haven't noticed, it's really hard to hire many different types of positions all over the world right now. And this discussion with David and Seth from the Yard Jockeys podcast is just a microcosm of what's happening in other verticals. So sit back, relax, take notes and enjoy the convoy.

David (1m 6s):

Cool. Well, I'm David Arsenault. I'm the VP of Marketing here. All the attention towards me, please.

Chad (1m 12s):

This is only audio David. So, you know, you don't have to worry about that.

David (1m 17s):

Okay. Well just for everyone listening, I also am the hotness of the duo here.

Joel (1m 25s):

Yeah. I was going to say you both, you both have the same thing, a bald guy and a guy with the hair. Some facial hair. Yeah. This is like looking in a mirror, right?

David (1m 33s):

Yeah. I've been in marketing the whole time. I've been here for 10 years. Originally the marketing department worked with both the, kind of the construction asset intelligence side of the company and the talent intelligence side, but for the last three years, I've spent only recruiting. Our team produces a lot of content solely around recruiting truck drivers. So it's, we do a bunch of different shows. We do a weekly report that Josh back here does where we talk about, you know, where it's, what's the freight market looking like? What is the demand on driver search? What's the demand on how many people are advertising for drivers, things like that and everything is just driver recruiting for the most primary. We delve into technicians here and there, but it's mostly we as all we think about is how to recruit truck drivers better.

David (2m 16s):

What our company does is that's essentially it. I mean, it's more the advertising marketing side of it, but really we'll dive into any area that helps our drivers. Or helps our clients recruit drivers better.

Seth (2m 28s):

All right. So I'm Seth Becker and I've been in the recruiting space for about 17, 18 years. 10 of that was in higher education. And now the past seven years in truck driver recruiting. So I'm excited to dive in with y'all and just, you know, talk about some of the things that are going on. Because driver recruiting it's, it's never boring, boring, right? I mean, it seems to be constantly changing. In fact, I've been preparing for a presentation coming up in a few weeks and I was updating a presentation from only six months ago and it was crazy how many changes I had to make just from a presentation six months ago.

David (3m 10s):

And he also, he actually worked at a fleet for a long time, too. He's our insider.

Chad (3m 15s):

Okay. Okay. Well, what were those changes?

Joel (3m 18s):

Where are you guys located?

Chad (3m 19s):

Cheeseman, I just asked the question. Back off. What were those changes? You just talked about changes that were on a slide. Don't tease us man and tell us what the changes were.

Seth (3m 29s):

So the changes really were around, in the past there being a shortage of drivers.

Chad (3m 35s):


Seth (3m 36s):

And then really in the last six months, the last few months, when you take a look at the data, there's more drivers now than there's ever been. Right. And so it's, it's interesting how that's changed and yet talking to fleets across the country, it's not like they're saying, Hey, we've got way too many? Right they're still needing more, even though there's more available than there's ever been. So it's kind of interesting.

Joel (4m 3s):

Are they not driving?

Seth (4m 5s):

They're driving? I think, you know, you guys mentioned the great resignation earlier. I think what we tend to see in this space is, drivers when the market seems to be slowing down, they look at additional options, right? Hey, I'm not moving as much as I used to be. Let me go see if there's something better out there? Or, Hey, there's a really attractive sign-on bonus, let me see what that's all about? so I don't think that it's necessarily true that they're available. It's just more looking is kind of my reaction.

David (4m 41s):

And you guys probably know this since you guys have that buddy from driver reach, but the turnover rate for trucking, I don't know. What is it currently at?

Seth (4m 49s):

It depends on the size of the fleet, but we'll say, you know, around 90%.

David (4m 52s):

Is what your average turnover rate?

Chad (4m 55s):

So how many of those people are actually going to different freight lines versus actually just leaving the industry?

Joel (5m 1s):


Seth (5m 1s):

It's tough to put a percentage on it, but the vast majority are just go into a different fleets. Of course there are some leaving, but I think it's less of that. What we've seen really the past year or so is individuals leaving companies, being a company driver to go venture out on their own. So buy a truck, essentially become their own company to take advantage of what used to be a really hot spot market is what we talk about.

Joel (5m 30s):

It strikes me a lot of nursing similarities where it's just a money thing and I'm jumping to different hospitals slash trucking companies. Some get out of it, you know, some take a break, some do other things. I mean, to me, there are a lot of similarities in those two professions.

David (5m 47s):

There is also the baby boomer exodus that's, I'm sure it's affecting every industry, but it's the demographic for truck driver. There, there were a lot of baby boomer truck drivers that are leaving the industry too. So that's, but I guess if there's more available, there has to be more coming in.

Seth (6m 3s):

Yeah. I mean, when we saw that big shortage, it was during those early days of COVID where things began to shut down in the schools that were training the truck drivers. There was actually a lot of closures, right. And so you didn't have this, this flood of new drivers coming in, like or consistent flooded drivers coming in, like we had in the past. But now that those have reopens and the pay has increased so significantly, it becomes a more attractive job than it was, you know, two years ago.

Chad (6m 30s):

So how much has the pay increased? Because we've obviously seen wage increases for other essential workers. And since you know, individuals in trucking, drivers specifically are, I mean, you're, you're talking about supply chain, which we've had huge issues with, how much has their wage actually gone up?

Seth (6m 48s):

Yeah. When we look at the numbers, I would say about two years ago, you know, the average was around $55,000. And if you look at numbers now, they're, they're closer to around $85,000, for averages. So that's, I mean, that's a nice $30,000 jump just in the past couple of years.

Joel (7m 6s):

It's commercial time.

Chad (7m 9s):

It's showtime.

Seth (7m 9s):

But I mean, what do you, what do you all seen on your end? Outside of trucking, I mean, does that sound like that falls in line with what you're seeing or is that maybe even further ahead of other industries?

Chad (7m 21s):

Well, I mean, we've seen from other essential workers, I guess you could say, huge pay bumps, but the reason being is there's been huge wage stagnation for decades. So this is, I mean, to be able to say that, you know, they they're getting a $30,000 bump, well, hell they should've gotten that over the last decade or two decades or three decades or so. So, you know, to be happy about that, I just can't get happy about something that should have, you know, that should've already been in the bank and they should have been making money on. And when you're seeing that type of thing, how can you expect individuals to stay? I've also seen, you know, advertisements and people saying pretty much false advertising that, you know, there are a hundred, $120,000 driving gigs, but then you get into a seat and it's $50 grand, right?

Chad (8m 8s):

So, you know, again, there's the false advertising in the markets and it just feels like the brand, the trucking brand in itself has done everything that it can to hurt itself.

David (8m 20s):

I think it's getting it. It does seem to be getting better, I think slowly but surely I think it's getting better, but what you actually brought a really good point of like it, and we've probably been guilty of this ourselves, that idea of like, I'm going to put what the absolute best driver with the longest tenure at my company makes to attract people. And then everybody comes in and they just feel they've been lied to. And I've seen some trucking companies do it much better where they are more transparent. And they say like the top 50% of our fleet make averages this. And then like, and then our absolute top driver makes this, so it gives us a better, like, it's still aspirational, but it's not so much like the guy that lives out of his truck and never stops driving makes.

David (9m 0s):

It's like, this is, but yeah, I think, and to your point, we've talked about this a million times about people getting a real commodity mindset around drivers and just thinking, well, it's like as long as you can keep them for a certain amount of time, there's no real pain to the turnover. Like there's an equation there and if we can keep them for a certain amount of time, there's no real pain, but I think what our clients have found and just the industry has found in general is there's an, a very hard to describe pain there of like you're building up your reputation over time and you're just making it harder and harder. And that the investment and treating drivers well and investing in them makes monetary sense over time.

Joel (9m 39s):

I think it's interesting that you said commodity and I think beyond, beyond the money, it, when you say boomers are still involved, you know, Chad and I are our kids of the seventies, trucking used to be cool, man. Trucking was like BJ and the Bear, you had a monkey in the passenger seat, you had a CB, like truck stops were cool. It was sort of this independent lifestyle. Like people wanted to be a trucker, man, I remember being, you know, seven years old bank and that's a cool job. We're so far from those days. I mean, on some point there needs to be a branding, a rebrand of what trucking is. And I think there's maybe some of that, but the Hollywood, you know, romanticized truck driver is dead.

Joel (10m 25s):

And I think beyond the money, it'd be nice if trucking sorta re-embraced that cool, independent, you know, rugged, free, you know, open road culture because they have strayed way far from that. And they've let companies like Uber and DoorDash kind of capture that, you know, high-tech independence, freewheeling spirit. Trucking needs to get that back, man. I don't know how, but it'd be nice if they did.

David (10m 53s):

I think that's one of the biggest complaints that drivers have now is that it is less independent because there's so much technology that monitors how they drive, when they drive.

Chad (11m 3s):


Joel (11m 3s):

Sure. And that might be why people want to get their own truck. Right? You get out in front of the hall monitor, do my own thing.

David (11m 10s):

That was also a big thing that contributed to there's lots of drivers, but fleets were still feeling the hurt was that because spot rates where they were the were the way they were in 2021, so many drivers said, I'm just going to go do this on my own because it's easy to make money doing this. So there's a, like 30% more startup fleets within that year. Then I don't remember the exact number someone's going to tell me that I'm wrong, which I probably am. But there was way more people decided to become owner operators during that time. I'm always trying to tell our clients because I tend to think on the marketing side and I like creative and all that kind of stuff. I don't get into the nitty gritty of technology as much, is that idea that people are emotional and make emotional decisions and so the way that you attract people to the place you work is through the emotional side of things.

David (11m 58s):

And it's like, you're saying, it's like that idea of, you know, having a life on the road and being independent and making a good living, like that's where they should be. But it tends to be more like feature and benefit type stuff.

Chad (12m 10s):

Yeah. I love Joel bringing up the seventies references cause I automatically think that Smokey and the Bandit. Right. I mean, just so cool. It's so awesome. Now all we're hearing is podcasts, truck driving serial killers, for God's sakes. It seems like, it seems like we just need to get the brand back, but it's hard to get the brand back when you're treating your people like shit. Right. I mean, that's almost impossible.

David (12m 36s):

What about for boomers talking about how to make it attractive for gen Z? What do you think that what you were talking about like that independent, rugged, would that still resonate with a newer audience do you think?

Chad (12m 48s):

Autonomy means everything especially to gen Z? And I mean, even the gen X-ers, I mean, there's nothing that I love more than just being able to do what I want to do. Right. And I think that's a human thing, but it's definitely a gen X-er thing. We were latchkey kids. I mean, we grew up pretty much on our own. I mean, we're just used to that now we've got the man telling us we can only do 55. That's bullshit. Right. So, I mean, overall I think this is about autonomy. The hard part about that is for big companies is they have all these measures in place, as you'd said, technology, to be able to not allow that autonomy because with autonomy is also risk and they want to cut down the risk.

Chad (13m 29s):

So my question is not to get away from gen Z. We'll get back there. When do we go on autonomous? I mean, that really for the big haulers is where they want to go. It's almost like Jeff Bezos and his warehouses. He doesn't want people on those things.

David (13m 45s):


Chad (13m 45s):

He wants robots in them and I guarantee you, every single freight guy that's out there other than spending all the money on the autonomous vehicles, he would love to be able to get rid of the risk and just let it go on autopilot. What do you think?

Seth (13m 57s):

Yeah, it seems like every conference I've been to in the past five years has brought up, you know, autonomous vehicles and every time somebody talks about it, they then followed up with, I think we're still 10, 20 years off though. Right. But because it's such a hot topic and everybody talks about it, I think it scares younger drivers to go, why would I get myself in an industry where I'm going to become irrelevant? So I do believe that we're still probably 10 years off from that, but I don't know. It is scary to think about like, Hey, I'm going to invest all this time and energy into this career, but is there really a career path here for me? And we know, I mean, we hear a lot about gen Z, career path is a big deal, right? Having that ability to get in somewhere, move up, have a title change all of that.

Joel (14m 43s):

When they have options, well, it's not like they're stuck in it. And oh, this is going to be around in 10 years, I'm going to do X, Y, or Z. They have options.

David (14m 52s):

One thing, I don't know how you would frame this as far as making this more attractive. But my uncle is a pilot. He was a pilot for Delta, I think for a long, long time. And he told me for the past 10 years, it's been complete autopilot, but the planes take off by themselves. They land themselves, they do everything and you could, the pilots could get up and walk around the cabin, but that they keep the pilots stay there cause nobody wants to see their pilot just up walking around. But so I would say that even if the trucks are autonomous, they're going to have pilots per se in the truck for awhile. They're not going to be just, you know, manless, they'll just be someone won't have to necessarily have hands on the wheel the whole time, which is pretty exciting.

David (15m 32s):

If it would be really attractive to me to think about, I would have all this free time, I'm just monitoring this vehicle. And then I have all this other free time to listen to the Chad and Cheese podcast and, you know, read books.

Chad (15m 44s):

Or code or code. I mean, you literally, you could be, you know, a driver or, you know, somebody who's watching the autonomous driver drive. Yep. And then sit in the back seat and code for goodness sakes, you know, which could be one, could be the side hustle. The other wouldn't be the full time.

David (15m 60s):

I do think there'll be someone in the vehicle for a long time.

Chad (16m 3s):

Overall. I think this still goes back to being sexy and having a brand and you know, to the back to the seventies, which is, I mean, bell bottom jeans, they came back. I mean, so it's one of those things where it's like, you have to own your brand. The thing is that we see many companies, not just struggling companies, every company that we talk to for the most part, a shitty application process, and they throw candidates into a black hole. So they have a bad brand. Now after decades of treating individuals like, you know, trash is throwing them in the black hole. Now they are focused. And over the last few years, they've become very focused on their brand and their experience and wanting to try to win them back.

Chad (16m 44s):

Right. This is something that I don't know that the trucking industry has even thought of, but you know, to try to harken back to those days, to, to bell bottoms and disco, and actually have somebody something that somebody cares and wants to do that to me, seems like step one, at least.

Joel (17m 3s):

It's commercial time.

Chad (17m 4s):

It's show time.

Seth (17m 5s):

So I'd love to hear if there's things being done in other industries. What could the trucking industry learned from some others that are doing it really well?

Joel (17m 13s):

I think is how wide of an editor you casting. And if we're talking about the seventies, I had a Farrah Fawcett poster in my room. I don't know, in terms of recruiting women, I

Chad (17m 25s):

Don't want to hear anything about a happy sock, okay.

Joel (17m 30s):

You know, diverse, you know, diverse candidates. My question to you would be how big is that net and is trucking doing as good a job as they can to appeal to women? Because I've heard stories about, you know, truck stops don't have showers for females, or like the locking mechanisms on trucks are the same per truck. I mean, so there are issues that not, as men, we ever think about, but that will keep women or other, you know, folks away from the profession. Has that been sort of addressed?

David (18m 1s):

I would not say and Seth we'll have more on this. I would not say they're doing the best they could. I have seen a lot of improvement in my 10 years and that it comes up frequently how do we get more women into trucking? How do we make it better for them? I'd say, it's come up at every event I've been to in the last four or five years.

Seth (18m 17s):

Yeah, no, I agree. I think there's progress being made, but it's still not leaps and bounds, right? It's not this big shift that's happened. It's been slow, but at least it's happening.

Chad (18m 28s):

I think you were talking about, are there any companies that are out there doing, you know, strides and branding and whatnot? We talked about, I think it was a couple of years or a couple of weeks ago, Joel, we talked about the Mod Pizza and they're a new advertising campaign where they're showing all of these individuals who are making pizza, delivering pizzas and all these things. And it is a diverse workforce. They've got, they've got a brand that they're pushing behind it and it's pushing the product, but it's also pushing the people. And is that to me was just really the leap that we needed to see for companies or one of the leaps that this brand needed to make to be able to demonstrate, Hey, we're more than just, you know, a pizza in the box.

Chad (19m 17s):

And the big issue that some had was one of the individuals had an ankle bracelet on, right? So it was like, everybody, it doesn't matter. We want you to be a part of a Mod Pizza, come work for us, eat our pizza, that kind of thing. And it almost seems like, you know, we need to see the same type at least of slowly push or even quick warp speed push from the actual trucking industry. I don't know if it can happen as an industry or it has to work line by line.

David (19m 47s):

Yeah. I think the, because there is such a high turnover rate and you know, when you have empty trucks, there's always, I think you tend to focus on the short wins. And so I think what I hear from a lot of clients, as opposed to thinking about what exactly is our brand, what do drivers say about us and how can we leverage that for the greatest effect? It tends to be like, what are other fleets doing that work? Like what pay gets noticed, what ads get noticed, we're just going to do exactly what they do because we know it works. It would be hard to sell internally. We need to take a step back, look at what our brand is and redesign everything around that idea. I think it's worth it. But I think the problem is just that turnover's so high, freights get missed, we got to just get leads in the door.

Seth (20m 30s):

Yeah. There is a lot of parody, right? I mean, when you look at the ads themselves, you know, a picture of a truck driver or a truck in the backgrounds, all kind of talking about the same things. And we all talk about wanting to stick out and do something different, but you don't see it that often.

Joel (20m 47s):

I would love to see, you know, I drive on the freeway as much as any other person. And I continually see trucks with we're hiring or X amount, you know, per mile. I've never, and I would notice because I do this for a living, I would totally notice if it was a female talking about how great the job is and why it's good for her or someone that's of diversity. So I agree. I agree that you, the industry is probably stuck in this rut of like, oh, every ad has to have this kind of guy, you know, the truck needs to be coming over the hill at sunset, you know, to show how that works and how much money. It seems like there's a lot of zagging. And when somebody needs to Zig, somebody needs to go like sort of the other direction to make it work in a different way.

David (21m 30s):

Yeah. I, and I do think a lot of them, I think a lot of them have tried it to some, or not a lot. I say a few have tried it to success. And I think a lot of them would love to, but I think they just like most people, they just get caught up in the whirlwind of, I don't have time to think about that. They don't see the, I believe in the long-term effect of that. That's I think that's the most important thing you could be doing, but it's hard to sell that internally. It's just like, we've got to get drivers in as quickly as possible. The problem is you're not fixing the thing that makes the drivers leave as quickly as possible.

Chad (22m 1s):

You can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. There's no reason why you can't have somebody focused tactically on what's happening day to day, and then have strategically, you know, this whole branding, this messaging, all of this changing, and then an integration of that. I mean, it seems like it's an excuse. They want to provide an excuse for not doing anything and then bitching and moaning because things aren't changing. Well, they're not changing because you're not changing it. It's fairly simple.

David (22m 32s):

This is going pretty well. Why don't we each.

Joel (22m 37s):

You sound surprised. You sound really surprised that this interview is going so well.

David (22m 42s):

He's not sure about Cheeseman, all those paternity suits you're talking about.

Joel (22m 48s):

What? God damn it. Sowash.

David (22m 50s):

All right. So we have a,

Joel (22m 51s):

Now this is going to be my brand in the trucking industry.

David (22m 56s):

Everyone's going to know Cheeseman is the paternity suits guy.

Joel (22m 57s):

I'm going to be the guy that's fathered, you know, hundreds of kids. Unbelievable. I can't show my face in a truck stop ever again now.

David (23m 7s):

So I like principle. I like to say, like, what is the, what are the guiding principles? I like to think in term of like overarching idea. So since you guys are in recruiting, we're in recruiting, let each person say what they think. Like the most important principle of being great at recruiting is? Why don't you start Cheeseman? Since we said, we were so mean to you/

Joel (23m 27s):

My grandfather was a big, he was into fishing. And so many rules of being a successful fishermen or woman are really relevant to recruiting. So if you want to catch fish, are you fishing in a lake that has fish and how many fish and what bait are you using? Right. So the similarities, where are you marketing? Are you marketing folks that are going to hear your message? Are you sourcing folks that are relevant to what you're hiring for? What is your messaging around that? I mean, we talk a lot about employment brand and brand on our show. And a lot of companies, like we said, think tactically, I need X, Y, and Z today. What am I going to do to find that and go find it.

Joel (24m 9s):

But being big picture and sort of like, okay, yes, we know what we need, but how do we increase that funnel to get more people in the door and more people interested in what we're doing. And I think thinking strategically is a big part of success in recruiting.

David (24m 23s):

The fishing metaphor is right up my alley. I,

Joel (24m 25s):

He was a bluegill guy for what it's worth, right?

David (24m 27s):

I'm a bass guy. I actually fished a tournament yesterday.

Joel (24m 35s):

It's commercial time.

Chad (24m 36s):

It's showtime.

David (24m 37s):

All right, Chad, what's yours?

Chad (24m 39s):

It's simple. It's human first. We're not treating the humans that actually do all of the work. They develop product. They drive the trucks. I mean, what we actually need to drive business forward are human beings until we have robots who can do it all, sorry, sucker, you gotta be good to the humans. And until you actually focus on human first types of strategies and day-to-day operations, then get somebody who can. Can that son of a bitch get rid of them, get somebody who cares about the actual people. Once you do that, guiding principle, that should be principle number one in every business, not just trucking, but it sounds like trucking needs that more than ever.

David (25m 22s):

Seth what's yours?

Seth (25m 22s):

Yeah. You know, mine's going to be, and it's 'be the easy choice'. And that means a lot of different things that, that goes to making the process easy because competition is so high, that you've got to make this process very easy for somebody to move through it with you. But it also, so that's physical effort, but then there's also this mental and emotional effort to where you've got to make that easy. And because once again, competition is so high, how do you make it easy for the driver to compare? What are the most, the things that are most important to him or her make that then easily available so they can compare that to what else is out there.

Seth (26m 2s):

Right. So both physical and emotional make that easy for them to make that choice.

David (26m 6s):

Mine's kind of a combination of what Chad and Seth said, but mine is kind of like, I need a better way of articulating it, but essentially it's like using your own empathy, like empathize with who you're trying to reach would be like empathize with, you're trying to reach, like ask yourself, would this be, I see so many marketers and recruiters do stuff that wouldn't be attractive to themselves. It's like, would you want to click that ad? Would you actually want to go through that process? Do you like that or would you want to go through orientation? We had, I don't think this happens near as much, but when drivers would come in for orientation, they would make them share hotel rooms with other drivers that were coming into orientation, that they were complete strangers. And it's like, would you want yourself, would you want to do that? And maybe even better.

David (26m 46s):

Would you want your son or daughter to have to do that? And even if it goes to, like, when you're like scrolling through your phone or something, how many times do we like something that doesn't have PayPal available or some sort of convenience that we're so used to using? And so we abandoned it right away. And then we'll put together these recruiting campaigns and it's like, you need to print out this PDF, fill it out and then fax it back to us or scan it and then email. And it's like, you would never do that. Why would you expect your audience to?

Chad (27m 15s):

Who owns a fax anyway?

David (27m 18s):

I know that was probably an extreme example, but it's the idea of like, you know, do what you would like, what, what would you want to see? What would be attractive to you and use that for how you try to reach, but it's kind of, we're all saying the same thing is that like they're humans, you know.

Joel (27m 32s):

Can we talk more about Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise and monkeys in the passenger seat? Is that

Chad (27m 41s):

I want to talk about Little Enos was like my favorite character, Little Enos. I can't even say it without laughing.

Chad and Cheese (27m 57s):

We out.

OUTRO (27m 57s):

Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode.

OUTRO (28m 45s):

And while you're at it, visit just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.


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