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How to Better Recruit Owner Operators

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What is an Owner Operator?

In the trucking industry, owner-operators are self-employed commercial truck drivers or small trucking businesses. Owner-operator drivers are not usually employed by one carrier. They’re independent contractors who choose who they work for. It can be tricky to recruit owner-operators.

In order for a driver to be considered an owner-operator, they must own their semi-truck and equipment. They are business owners.

Owner operator and independent contractor can not be used interchangeably. An owner-operator is an independent contractor, but an independent contractor is not an owner-operator. Independent contractors usually lease a semi and are not business owners. Instead, they run with another company and use the company's authority. Owner-operators have their own authority due to being their own business owner.

Why you should hire Owner Operators?

Owner-operators on average have more experience than a company driver and are more independent. Their independence often motivates them to be out on the road. Not only do they often enjoy their job more, but they also possess vital characteristics to serve as successful drivers: They are more likely to be more organized, professional, and knowledgeable about routes, equipment, and driving safely. They are an asset for building a great reputation for your fleet. 

They also have a financial benefit. Owner-operators are contract employees, meaning you are not required to provide them with benefits such as insurance, 401k, etc. Owner-operators have their own equipment, including semi-trucks. This means they are responsible for maintenance, payments, and insurance. Be sure to discuss who pays for the fuel. 

How to better Recruit Owner Operators

1. Reach

Many owner-operators have a targeted niche of truck driving. This means most sources you use to reach other company driving divisions won’t work on owner-operators. Most owner-operators aim to get experience before starting their own business so they will more likely be older than your average driver. On average, older people are more likely to use Facebook, meaning Facebook advertisements will be your best bet on reaching owner-operators. 

It has been statistically found that owner-operators are also more likely to read printed magazines while company drivers read email newsletters. Advertising in printed media outlets isn’t dead! Give it a try if you’re looking to hire owner-operators. 

2. Communication

Company drivers usually look for a job that puts food on the table and treats them well. Owner-operators want the same things but are usually more selective. Owner-operators usually take longer to sign on, which requires more patience from your side. Keep in mind not every driver will be right for your company, just as every company might not be right for the driver. 

Owner-operators are looking to make sure your company is a good fit for them. Be sure to be upfront and honest during the hiring process. Get to know what job factors are important to them and alleviate any doubts they might have. Asking something like “do you have any doubts?” is a great way to clear up anything that is holding back a decision. There may be more negotiation and compromise required than a recruiter might be used to so be prepared. 

The process might take longer than recruiting another company driver, but you know that if the owner-operator chooses to work with your company, you have formed a relationship and hired someone who truly wants to be on your team.

3. Keep it consistent

When hiring an owner-operator, as mentioned above, it’s important to clear any doubts they have. A lack of clarity might throw them off from wanting to work with you. That being said, stay consistent from start to finish - from the advertising to the recruitment call, and finally the initial hiring. You do not want to create a negative reputation with any owner-operators. A recruiter should never go back on something they previously promised, as this is unacceptable. Know what you have to offer and lay it out on the table right in the beginning. This will create open and clear communication between you and any driver, whether an owner operator or company driver. 

Be aware that the owner-operators are more likely to have an independent mindset. They will want to have the freedom to work when they want and be able to choose the load they prefer. They do not usually react well to too much oversight. 

We hope this guide can help you better recruit owner-operators into your business!

How to Better Recruit Owner Operators
Vanessa Kuras