FreightWaves Carrier Summit: Act fast on hiring, head of Tenstreet says (with video)

Successfully hiring a driver during the current iteration of the driver squeeze could mean acting on an application within five minutes of receiving it.

That was the observation of Tim Crawford, the CEO of Tenstreet, which offers a suite of software solutions that among other things is used by companies and drivers looking for new employees or new employers, respectively. Crawford was interviewed on the second day of FreightWaves’ Carrier Summit by Rob Hatchett, the president of recruiting agency SeatMyTrucks.

The number of drivers in the market, based on data from the use of the Tenstreet platform,  hit a “floor” around mid-May, Crawford said, and remains down 15% to 20% from where it was “at the start of this whole thing.” Even year-on-year, applications are down “pretty significantly” from where they were at this time in 2019.

But Crawford said the current market for drivers has no precedent. “I’ve been around a long time and I’ve never seen a driver shortage with unemployment at 10%,” Crawford said.

And in a tight market for drivers, speed is of the essence. “The biggest thing we see in terms of the impact efficiency has on overall success in recruiting is how quickly carriers respond to that application,” Crawford said.

The time intervals Crawford spoke of were about as fast as a company can humanly respond to an application. 

“If you catch them right, then they are going to be a lot more open to having that conversation,” Crawford said. 

But what constitutes “right”? If a carrier receives an application and waits 30 minutes to an hour to respond, the impact of that may vary. What they really need to do, Crawford said, is respond in five minutes. 

When a carrier does so, “they are converting those applications [into hires] at a 50% improved clip,” Crawford said. Even if the wait in responding is 30 minutes, efficiency at turning that into a new employee is improved by 40%, he added.

If the wait gets out to four hours, the decline in interest from applicants is so great that “you are wasting your money in terms of the ad spend that generated that interest,” Crawford said. “So we see response times as being huge in overall effectiveness.”

Even if the number of available drivers hasn’t rebounded to levels from a year ago or pre-pandemic, recruiters using the Tenstreet platform are running about 2% higher than they were before March, Crawford said, a sign that recruiting efforts are picking up and are doing so when the number of drivers is less than year-ago levels.   

The Tenstreet platform hosts the short and long applications for truck driver jobs. According to Crawford, if a driver has submitted a “lead application,” another term for the short form, research shows that the driver is talking to an average of 1.8 carriers. 

If the full, long Department of Transportation application is submitted, the driver is probably talking to between 4.5 and 5 carriers, Crawford said. And a driver who goes all the way to getting hired was probably speaking to 5.5 to 6 carriers before settling on a new employer.

“The deeper the driver gets in the process, the more carriers he is talking to,” Crawford said of the numbers. “From a driver perspective, it means that if you’re thinking about changing jobs, you’re getting the better offer. Do your due diligence.”

Tenstreet operates a chat app for its processes, Driver Pulse. Crawford said driver candidates who use the Driver Pulse app are 50% more likely to be converted into an application than by using straight text messages. “If your reply is between other text messages, it’s going to get lost in the shuffle,” Crawford said. 

Hatchett asked whether Crawford and Tenstreet could draw any conclusions about a possible deterioration in the quality of job candidates. Such a measurement could come from several data points, including safety records, stability in prior jobs and violation of work rules. 

Crawford said those numbers are “essentially rock solid. They haven’t really changed in over a year. They seem to be really stable.”

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