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Franchise in the spotlight: Driver Hire

Written by Josh Russell on Wednesday, 04 September 2013. Posted in Interviews

Transport is the central nervous system that keeps the heart of UK plc beating. So you need a tip-top recruiter to keep your firm in good health

Franchise in the spotlight: Driver Hire

Recruitment is a time-consuming and expensive process. When you introduce into the equation the need to find, vet and check the core competences of specialist staff, it’s not always easy for firms to manage those hires internally. Haulage and transport is definitely one of these fields, which is why it’s worth going to the experts.

Driver Hire is far from a new entrant to the field and has an impressive three decades in the recruitment industry. And franchising has formed an essential part of its model for the last 25 years, allowing the recruitment firm to amass 100 offices across the country serving catchments from Inverness to Truro. Originally the brainchild of Mark Lawn and John Bussey, a former driver and a finance provider respectively, Driver Hire was bought out nine years ago and has come to serve an impressive variety of clients.

“Any company that has a vehicle could be classed as a potential customer,” explains Graham Duckworth, franchise sales director at the firm. “Traditionally, it’s things such as parcel delivery, haulage companies as you’d imagine in transport. Then there are manufacturing companies, oil and gas companies, local councils; the list of what we cover is very long.” In addition, the firm also supplies blue-collar staff, warehouse operatives and general office staff, filling vacancies for 6,000 clients a year.

Obviously, building up a roster of candidates for such diverse industries takes a good deal of leg work. Fortunately, franchisees and recruiters for the firm aren’t lacking in resources. “We have a Driver Hire website and every office has its own micro-site, which has a jobs board on,” explains Duckworth.

The offices themselves control the jobs content, they can update it live themselves so it’s theirs to update frequently. “It’s free for the franchisee to use, so that’s an excellent source.”

While other sources include their close ties to local Jobcentre Plus offices and online job sites, this isn’t Driver Hire’s most valuable resource. Instead, that rests on the candidates themselves. “Word of mouth is very important and a really good way for offices to source drivers,” says Duckworth. “Because, when drivers or candidates go to work for a company, you can be absolutely sure that they speak to drivers from other recruiters as well; things like how are they treated and what are they paid.”

And the company recognises just how much value this adds to its business. “We try to treat people with respect, try to find them work that they’ll enjoy and pay them a decent rate,” Duckworth says. “Hopefully, that combination of things makes them want to stay with us and recommend us to other people.” Which is far more than wishful thinking; the company has had candidates who have been securing work through it for ten years, identifying more with Driver Hire than the organisations holding their contracts. “Even though they’re going to work for different companies, they consider Driver Hire to be their employers.”

But it’s not just about sourcing candidates. As may be anticipated, a lot of work goes into ensuring potential employees are up to scratch. The firm is accredited to the standard ISO 9000, which governs a lot of the recruitment process. It runs through a detailed application and a licence check for its drivers, but the process is much more than just a box-checking exercise.

“We sit down, figure out what sort of work they enjoy, whether there are any particular shift patterns they’d like to work or whether there’s anything in their personal lives that dictates how and when they work,” explains Duckworth. And this is something the firm prides itself on, making sure they match candidates to the right positions, rather than just trying to churn through applicants as a numbers game.

It doesn’t end there, however. “Traditionally, recruitment companies are just seen as people who supply staff,” Duckworth says. “We’ve diversified significantly over the last few years.” Since the introduction of the Drivers Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) – a mandatory qualification for all LGV drivers – Driver Hire has begun to offer training to prepare employees for the certification. They also provide extensive e-learning, including guides to aid drivers in increasing fuel efficiency and performing daily safety checks on their vehicles. “We’re looking at ways of not just simply being a supplier of temporary staff; we’re looking to provide other things for customers that are going to be beneficial.”

As mentioned, franchising has been key in helping Driver Hire establish a comprehensive network across the nation. Franchises are sold and broken down by postcode and each is set at a specific size to ensure the ability to achieve peak profitability. Because of this, new regions are comparatively hard to come by, with only ten more locations identified that aren’t currently served. But resales of established franchises are still allowing committed recruiters to get their hands on a location.

And many of these can be highly desirable, generating very healthy incomes. “During 2012-2013, 41% of our offices had a turnover of more than £750,000,” comments Duckworth. But the numbers aren’t the main focus. Instead, central to the Driver Hire ethos is securing the best hires for their customers and building up quality, long-term relationships. He continues: “It’s not just trying to put a bum on a seat, it’s thinking very carefully and – this is how we get customers coming back to us – finding the right person.” 

About the Author

Josh Russell

Josh Russell

When he isn’t tooling around on trains in a tux like the Daniel Craig of the Greater Anglia transport system, Russell spends his time living the glamourous life of an enterprise journalist, judging Digital Business of the Year at the National Business Awards and attending conferences like NixonMcInnes’ Meaning 2013. However, like all good secret agents, Russell lives a double life – in his case, as a closet revolutionary. Social enterprise, sustainable business and collaborative practices are his true passions, something that he has had plenty of opportunity to air in his features here at Elite Franchise.

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