The Frog Buying Binge

April 1, 2012

By Dan Baker

There’s this story about this guy that walks into a bar and says to the bartender: “Hey Mister, I’m broke, but if I show you something really cool, will you give me a drink?” And the bartender says, “Well, what have you got?”

So this guy reaches into his coat and pulls out a little piano and puts it up on the bar. Then, he pulls out  a hamster and a miniature stool and puts the hamster on the stool and shoves it up to the little piano, and the hamster starts playing the piano, really good.

Then the guy reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a big green bullfrog and puts the bullfrog next to the piano, and this bullfrog starts singing really good. The people are astounded to see this bullfrog singing.

So one of the patrons says, “Mister, that singing frog is fantastic. I’ll give you $5,000 for that frog.”  And the guy gives the patron the frog and the patron gives the guy his $5,000 and leaves. After the guy is gone with his frog the bartender says, “Mister, I’m not telling you how to run your business, but that singing frog was worth a lot more than $5,000. And you just gave him up for good for a mere $5,000.”

And the guy says to the bartender, “You don’t understand. The hamster is a ventriloquist!”

Every time I tell that story, I tell my people that we need to quit buying frogs and start investing in hamsters. What do I mean by that? Well, too often, our efforts are directed at the obvious, while we neglect the source.

Today, the big push is for drivers. The recruiters are out in force, beating the bushes for every driver they can find. There simply aren’t as many available drivers because our younger generations simply don’t want to drive a truck. They have been told that being a truck driver is a second-class job, and besides, they don’t want to be gone from home that much.

I call this recruitment craze the frog buying binge. What we need to be doing is going back to the source of why a driver joins a company in the first place. Again I tell you that recruitment is not a process of promotion and marketing. It is a process of attraction, and if you are going to succeed in recruiting drivers, you have got to do whatever it is you have to do to become the kind of company that a driver wants to work for.

First, you’ve got to be the kind of company that the drivers you’ve already got want to stay for, and then, you have got to be so good, that people who have never heard about you want to come and be a part of. There are those kinds of trucking companies out there, and they read this, and say, “He’s right!”

You bet I’m right. When you’re dealing with drivers, pushing doesn’t work. You can josh and fun an ole driver a million miles, but you can’t push him a foot.

Today, the big word is company culture. What is it like to be you? What is it like to drive for you? Who are you focused on first: your customers or your drivers? Just remember that you drivers perform the only function in your entire organization that creates the revenue that feeds the rest of you. You take care of them, and they’ll take care of you. Be a ventriloquist and learn to throw your message out there so those who hear it will come; and they will.