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FreightWaves Carrier Summit: Strategies to attract younger drivers (with video)

Let current drivers show through social media channels what makes working for a particular trucking company great

FreightWaves research analyst Andrew Cox (left) interviews Sadie Church (right), vice president of marketing for CDLIFE, about how trucking companies can attract younger drivers. (FreightWaves)

If a trucking company wants to attract drivers in their 20s and 30s, the company can’t just say how it offers all the bells and whistles: great equipment, great pay and a lot of home time. It has to show a prospective driver what makes working for that company truly special and unique, according to Sadie Church, vice president of marketing for CDLIFE.

“The only thing you can do is identify what sets you apart from other companies, what makes you different, what makes you unique. And really show the drivers that. Show them what good home time looks like. Show them what good equipment looks like,” Church said as a guest in a virtual fireside chat during the FreightWaves Carrier Summit on Wednesday.

To give prospective millennial drivers an insight on what they can expect working for a certain trucking company, Church suggested leveraging existing drivers who have published their testimonies on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.

For instance, in Church’s former role at Riverside Transport, she was involved in a brand ambassador campaign in which a young woman documented on social media her journey to becoming a truck driver. The woman chronicled her experience going to driving school for her commercial driver’s license (CDL) and getting a pink Volvo truck, and she took daily videos of her life on the road. 

Examples of the brand ambassador campaign can be found here and here.

Meanwhile, the hashtag “truck driver” has 250 million views on the social media platform TikTok, according to Church. “It’s a great platform that’s untapped.”

But besides showing a company’s unique characteristics through branding, trucking companies should also appeal to millennials’ sense of adventure — as well as to their pocketbooks and wallets. 

There has been such a focus on obtaining a four-year college degree, but students can come out with a lot of student loan debt and they’re often offered lower-paying entry-level jobs, Church said. But as a truck driver, those people can make a good salary while also exploring the country. 

“They can go out and get their CDL and they can start making great money, travel the country and, really, do an honorable job,” Church said.

Of course, having the latest leisure technology in the cab also helps, from Wi-Fi to satellite transmission to tablets with streaming services installed. Also valuable to attracting younger drivers are trucks that use automatic transmission versus manual transmission, Church said.

The trucking industry has been trying to figure out ways to attract younger drivers since the driver pool is aging out, with the average age of a truck driver at 55 years old. 

“If we leverage social media — YouTube, TikTok, Instagram — we’re going to have a better opportunity to reach out to younger drivers. But I do think that branding is really important, and depending on who you want to appeal to, you would diversify your brand to appeal to that demographic,” Church said.

Click here for more FrieghtWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.