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G. Williams & Associates hooking up drivers, companies on the Web

Jackson ad firm takes 18-wheel clients online

JACKSON — When Skip Aaron developed a Web site for professional truck drivers, he designed it with every resource he would have liked access to during his 25 years as a trucking company recruiter.

Last March, Aaron, vice president of recruitment marketing and Internet operations at G. Williams & Associates in Jackson, developed www.truckersjobbank.com primarily as a way to hook up professional drivers and national trucking companies.

“It’s a driver’s market,” Aaron said. “According to a study five years ago, about 700,000 truck driving jobs that are open every year are not filled because the supply is not there. It’s a well-paying industry where first-year drivers can make about $35,000. After a year, drivers become four-season veterans. Then, they can look at making $55,000 to $70,000.”

The Web site, which has generated more than 100,000 hits since its creation, was developed as a way to reduce advertising costs for G. Williams’ clients, Aaron said.

“Unfortunately, newspaper advertisement for employment in the trucking industry is basically dead, so we came up with an online recruiting service,” he said. “About 22% of the drivers who check out our Web site fill out online applications for existing customers. That’s a drastic increase of applications submitted to carriers on a monthly basis. It’s an inexpensive way for a company to get the word out that they’re hiring drivers and what their pay package is.”

Roughly 67% of professional drivers use the Internet on a daily basis by renting air time at truck stops or via laptop computers or onboard systems — 80% of trucks have them — to check out loads, search for employment, find truck parts, check weather conditions and keep in touch with families.

Aaron created the Web site in-house without templates and sold advertising to major carriers with operations in 48 states, such as Heartland Express, whose logos are prominent and company bios and online applications are easy to find in the well organized Web site filled with colorful graphics and bright road-yellow directional signs. Other advertisers, such as FedEx and NASCAR-related businesses, contribute to the site’s more than $15,000 in monthly revenues. Next up: national hotel and restaurant chains.

“Eventually, we want to make it a one-stop shop for all of the information drivers will need,” Aaron said.

Quick links to map routes, weather conditions, construction updates and reported delays are heavily used, particularly in the wintertime in the northern part of the U.S., he said.

Aaron promotes the Web site via advertisements in trade magazines, radio shows, trucking affiliate links, such as www.getloaded.com, and cooperative advertising with the popular Midnight Cowboy Trucking Network.

“When we started, there were only four other similar sites,” he said. “Now, there are 20 or so sites. Ours is one of the longest and has been classified as one of the most user-friendly, but it’s a day-to-day battle, submitting to the search engines and staying on top of the list. I probably spend 15 hours a week making sure we’re climbing that ladder.”

The Web site has spawned more Web sites, such as www.drivermatch.com, which is geared toward newcomers in the trucking industry that Aaron recently launched.

Ironically, most calls from the Web site are generated from television ads, he said.

“Drivermatch.com helps hook up new drivers with driving schools to get them started on their careers,” he said. “After they finish school, drivermatch will also help get them placed with an appropriate carrier that fits their needs.”

Web sites for other industries will likely follow, Aaron said, adding that, “once you get a system, setting up a job site is pretty easy.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at mbj@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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