We asked on a truckers forum about the opinions of driving schools and the recuiters that work for them. We wanted to know what students consider to be important when choosing a truck driving school and also what makes them trust one recruiter over another. Here are some of their responses…
“Honestly i trust a recruiter as much as i do a used car salesman. Their job is to get you to their school. But i can tell you one bad point about the recruiter i had at my cdl school. I went to the school and was an out of town student(120+ miles away) and they offered hotel rooms for price for the whole duration of the training. My recruiters exact words was “The cost is $200 for the full 3 weeks of training” but it turns out that the recruiter wasn’t very educated on the subject because when i got there i found out that it was for M-Thurs(i had assumed it was the full week including weekends). I ended up having to pay for a hotel over the weekends. Even though this isn’t directly related to the training it is part of a recruiters job to be well informed on the details, especially the ones that tell me how much it is going to cost me out of pocket. It put a choke hold on my wallet and I had to eat sardines and crackers for the whole last week of training!
Also on the financial part of the world and this may have been just me and not sure if you guys offer loans but mine did offer the student type loan that was done in house through a 3rd party. I had a cosigner on mine and my recruiter told me to bring this and this from them for the loan and that was all i needed from them. Well my uncle who was my co signer is a driver and i get called into the office on the last week saying i need to call my cosigner and tell them they have paperwork being overnighted to them to fill out and sign and overnight back before i would be able to test out. Well my cosigner at that time was 2,000 miles from home. Even though i got it handled it all goes back to being well informed on everything the student needs to know beforehand.
Keep the recruiters honest and well informed. Maybe even call the recruiters and ask about your own school from time to time to see if they do have all the information and it is right. Also one thing that would help me trust one is if they explained the highs and lows. If all they talk about is sunshine and rainbows it makes me think what are they not talking about. Not saying there is bad parts of your program but everywhere has its low points. Though i know that telling a prospective student about a low point or two may seem like a bad idea but me personally i will be able to trust a recruiter that is willing to share that over one that promises the best school in the world with no flaws.
Also this may be an odd note but for me i would have liked to know about what kind of places are close enough to eat at on lunch. I didnt think to ask when i was looking at the school I went to and it ended up being a 30 min lunch and the choices where bleak, costly, and time consuming. Will give them an idea of what kind of food allowance to bring.
Hope this helps, “
“I was trying to decide between a few different schools. The first school I went to, the building was cold, dark, the ceiling tiles were falling off and I felt it was a very unprofessional atmosphere. They had decent looking trucks, but I was not being treated like a perspective student. It’s not that they were rude or anything like that, they just weren’t very friendly. As I was talking to them trying to get answers to questions, the phone would ring, or somebody would walk in an interrupt us, and they even made fun of a student in front of me. I walked out of there knowing full well I wouldn’t be attending that school.
Another school I had considered but never actually visited them. I saw some of their trucks driving down the road and noticed they only used flatbed and pup trailers and their trucks looked just awful. No thanks!
Finally, I found the right place. Despite the school being located on a dirt / muddy lot and the fact the classrooms were in a double wide trailer, I felt extremely comfortable there. From the moment I walked in, I was greeted with a smile and a friendly hello. I met two instructors right off the bat and then I went into a private office with a recruiter that spent time answering all my questions honestly. After we were done talking, she brought me outside to look at some of their trucks and watched students practicing on the yard. They encouraged me to ask any questions to any of their students. We then returned back to the office when I was greeted by the owner of the school. He told me all bout his history, the qualifications of his instructors, why the school was started, why they stand apart from the rest, and told me he’d really like to have me on board as long as my background cleared, shook my hand, then left. I signed up for them without checking out any other schools and I’m glad I did. They were fantastic!
So I’d say the most important thing for a truck driving schools is to be friendly and patient with those coming in. Encourage them to speak with your current students. Even if they don’t the mere fact that you tell them to do that shows you have absolutely nothing to hide and are a stand up organization. These students are embarking on something that will radically change their lives. Being friendly and patient with them will go a long way, even if you’re based out of a double wide on a dirt lot.”
“As far as things that will attract students:
1) Prompt response from you - when a student tries contacting your school, whether it be phone, snail mail, or email, respond immediately. I’ve heard dozens of people over the years say they were thrilled and impressed by the quick response they received from certain schools or companies. It shows you’re eager to work with people and you’re on top of things. When I ran a contracting business that gave free estimates, I made it a policy to call every customer back within 3 hours of their initial call if I missed it, and give them a free estimate with 24 hours of their call. That earned us a lot of business. If you get back to people quickly, that makes a huge difference! Even without changing anything else, you’ll land more students by simply having super fast response times.
2) Make sure your school, your staff, and your trucks are clean. The instructors should have professional uniforms and be kind and pleasant. The yard trucks doing the backing are likely on a gravel lot so that’s tough. The road trucks are easier. But people care very much about the cleanliness and professionalism of the building, instructors, staff, and equipment. Stay sharp.
3) Like TruckerMike said - encourage them to talk to your students. If you guys are doing a great job of training people and treating them with patience, kindness, and respect, your students will be thrilled to recommend your school to prospective students. Treat your students like gold and make sure prospective students get a chance to speak privately with current students. You might recommend that people come visit your school before class, during lunch, or near the end of the day when your current students will have time to talk. The very best recommendation a prospective student can get is from a current student. Make sure you give them that chance.
4) Job placement is huge. Nobody is going to school just to learn to drive a truck. They need a new career and they’re worried about landing that first job. Show them a list of trucking companies that hire your students. Have a solid pre-hire process in place and get prospective students going on pre-hires right away - before they even commit to your school. If they can get pre-hires through your school, they’ll be far more confident that going to your school will result in a job afterward, and that’s what it’s all about. Even if they’re not thrilled with some other aspects of your school, knowing they’ve got worked lined up after graduating is what it’s all about - and that’s hard to walk away from.
5) Make sure you have a policy in place that accommodates drivers who are struggling. One of the big concerns people have is “What if it takes me a bit longer than most to catch on? Will they fail me? Will I pay all that money and go through the schooling for nothing?” There are a lot of schools that will allow a student to have extra training if they’re struggling. Financially, this can be very hard on a school, but even worse on a student who fails out, loses all that time and money, and has nothing to show for it. Make sure you have a solid plan in place to deal with struggling students, and be up front about it. You don’t have to offer additional training for free, but it has to be reasonably priced. Maybe a short amount of extra time for free, and then unlimited time for a fee if necessary after that. But make sure you have a solid plan in place and articulate that clearly to prospective students. They want to know you genuinely care about training them and getting their careers started - that you’re not just going to take their money and kick em to the curb.
6) Make sure you line up visits from trucking company recruiters. Prospective students love to see that a trucking company thinks highly enough of your training that they will send recruiters to visit with students during the schooling. Try scheduling them out at least a month or so in advance or doing it on a regular schedule so you can tell students what dates certain companies will be coming by.
The main concerns students have are:
1) Will I be treated with kindness, patience, and respect?
2) Does the school really care about helping me get my career started, or do they want to get me out of their hair as soon as they get my money?
3) Will I be able to land a job after graduating?
4) Does the school really know what they are doing? Are they true professionals with top-notch training methods, materials, and equipment?
Hope this helps!”