How is working for an agency different for drivers?
You may contact Dave of Revolution Staffing:
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @JDaveMacD, @revstaff
And welcome to another episode of the show. My guest this week, Mr. Dave, MacDonald of revolution, staffing, Dave, how are you? I'm doing great. I'm real well, you know, having technical difficulties today. Now my phone's been ringing off the hook since you and I have been chatting. It's just one of those afternoons. That's the way it goes. You know, I think everyone is tired of zooming and talking over each other in the middle of conversations like this, it's just the way 20, 20 is. It is it's, you know, this episode will air till 2021, but for the audience we're recording it very late of 2020. And I probably like you, but certainly I can't wait to get rid of this 19 or 2020, can't end it, You know, I would say, it's, it is what you make of it. And so there's been lots of there's lots of challenge to this year. Life is what you make of it. And so there's no sense of bemoaning it. We are, we got what we got, so let's make the best of what we have. And that's a great way to sum it up because, and I mean, I've known you for years and I know you are always a class, half full type of person, which is awesome. Makes you good Flowing generally, but I'll live with half today. Okay. Well, as I say, it makes you fun to be around they've what, how did you start revolution staffing? Or why did you want to start a staffing or a driver agency? Sure. That's a great question. One. I get a lot, you know, you don't do it because you need a lot. He want a lot of money. That's not what staffing's about. Really. There's a real intrinsic value in helping people find jobs. And for me, it came from a period in my own life where it was really hard for me to find a job in my twenties. I got married at 20 years old, a wet behind the ears with no schooling, no skills, no talents, just a lot of ambition and energy. And you know, the reality is that I tell people all the time I've been fired from every good job I've ever had, but there's a period of time in my early twenties when I was out of work for probably six months or more. And a couple of times in that period, I interviewed at companies that were staffing companies there's were, I was interviewing for a job to sell their services. And even while I didn't get those jobs and I wouldn't have given me the job either, but even while I didn't get those jobs, I caught a vision for the idea of helping people feed their families. I was struggling to feed my own family at the time and the idea of helping people jobs so that they could feed their families was really rewarding to me and something that just caught for me. And so five, 10 years later, when I was ready to start my own business, it was one of the things that I sought out. Well, how many years old is revolution staffing? Okay, Well, I own three different employment agencies. Revolution staffing started in 2005 essential staffing. I started in 2017 and I purchased home unlimited in 2019, but they've been in business since 1966. Sorry, what was the name of that one? Help unlimited help. Unlimited. You just sent shivers down my spine. Yeah, they've been around for a long time. Yeah. And help on limited with where they located on queen street, downtown Toronto, We're located on queen street. I first got to know them when they had offices in Brampton and downtown at Toronto and gr sorry, Doug DAS and Jarvis right downtown. And they helped me start revolution staffing really. And so when they came for sale in 2019, you know, I, nobody would believe this, but I'm a bit of a romantic. And so I bought my Alma mater in January of 2019 when they came for sale. Well, first of all, I kind of believe that you're a romantic, but that's okay. Tell my wife, she doesn't get flowers often enough. But the truth of the matter is, is I, you know, I do, I'm a fairly nostalgic minded person and I love those little hooks like that. They got, they helped me get my start and I wanted to help them, you know, make their transition Well, how did they help you start? Cool. Gosh. Yeah, I sure can. They, like I said, I had this vision for a staffing firm, but I didn't have any experience at it. And I, they were a client of my brothers at the time and my brother's an accountant in Oakville and they had a good working relationship and they agreed to teach me the business, knowing that I was going to start my own. It started as a joint venture and grew into its own independent business out of that. That's awesome. We all need mentors. We all need people who will share a lot of stuff for me. Kim Richardson is, has helped me immensely, you know? So I appreciate that. Yeah. Another fellow will, I'm throwing names out there. Do you know Claude chalk? Yeah, The name's familiar to me. I don't know that I know him personally, but I've heard of him for sure. Okay. He was my mentor at TMT and he ended his career. He's now retired, but he was at a man. A tool for was in the teens for sure. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So Bob Barker was the owner of help unlimited. And then Bob passed, I dunno, five or not quite 10 years ago. I think. And his business was then bought by the lady who ran it for many years for him, Lynn owl. And then I have the good fortune of buying it from Lynn. That's awesome because we don't, can you talk about a little bit the essential role because I do believe it's essential the role of staffing companies, right? Sure. I think, you know, we know we're essential because Doug Ford said so, right. Like isn't that the way that everything gets divided decided in 2020, 20, 21 is if the government decided that you were an essential service, you know, that you are. And so for us, because we provide so much labor to industry, whether that's truck drivers to trucking companies or warehouse workers or sanitation workers, or, you know, just, we, we put people into plants and all sorts of positions and all sorts of roles. Every day we have probably between the three companies we have about 300 or so people at work almost every day. So, you know, you can't, the staffing industry actually represents somewhere between four and 6% of all employees that are employed in Canada at any given time. So it's a significant percentage of the population. And, you know, really the trucking industry wouldn't represent that many employees of the total employment structure of Canada. I don't think. Yeah. That's a huge amount of people that work through a staffing service. I didn't realize that. Yeah. One of the challenges, as you know, Chris is, you know, separating the good legitimate agencies who are there to help people and to help companies and pretenders who are there, you know, making their money on the backs of the people, not helping the people up, but pushing the people down and taking advantage of them, people that aren't paying their fair share of taxes, people that are what I would really refer to as illegitimate operators and, you know, revolution, staffing got its name because we wanted to change the way people thought about agencies, because, you know, too, you alluded to this earlier, not all agencies and not all people's experiences with agencies have been positive. And so what we're trying to do really is to change the way both candidates and employers feel about working with an agency and to really create a proactive partnership between the two them. Well, I can tell you, you know, my history is 30 years or more ago when I was running the Sears operation and on Saturdays we needed helpers and we could never get enough helper, so help on limited. And there was one other company, I forget their name supplied us in those days with helpers and S it was sometimes a challenge because they would truly be unskilled on a Saturday morning and they were there to earn a buck. And, you know, some of them were a challenge. I'll tell you, the majority of them were really good people that did a great job because I was often a driver in those days. And I had to work with this film. So, you know, in the early part, certainly I was a supervisor, but I also drove trucks. So I often had a, a driver service help her with me. Sure. Some of the challenges, I, I think, I think what most people experienced then versus what they experienced today is let's just, let's just be honest, the government regulation and oversight of the trucking industry in particular, let's just talk about trucking right now has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. Think about the introduction of ELD is that's going on right now. Think about hours of services and changes to the regulations related to hours of service. Chris, I know you do a whole course on CBU RS and how to properly read a CBOR. Those things have all changed dramatically over 30 years. And so it's no surprise that the supporting industries around the trucking industry have also changed dramatically over 30 years. And so while, you know, back in time, you know, two feet in a heartbeat would get it done, but in today's environment, we don't, we don't work that way. I'm not saying that there aren't some agencies out there that still do that, but there's not that many of them. And, and if you're working with them, that's on that's, that's on the company. Who's making the decision to, you know, hire somebody at a, at a below livable wage scale so that they can line their companies, their company's bottom line as a company. And I I'm in business to make money. Let me be very clear. Okay. But I don't make it off the people. I make it off providing what we say. Well, we would say better together is improving productivity and profitability through people. That's the value add of working with revolution, staffing, essential staffing, or health unlimited in 2020. And so if you're trying to improve your bottom line by crushing the little guy, I don't want you as a customer anyways. No, I think w w That's so much not who you are. You've got such a great reputation in the industry. You're so highly regarded. Like I, you know, obviously I'm not saying you, but there are people out there that are just trying to take advantage of getting the low, low, low, low price. Well, During COVID, I've done nothing, but raise my price at all it six years ago, what I charged, isn't what I charged today. Thank goodness. You know, and, but thank you for the kind words. If I was, I've got two questions, both similar. If I was a driver, why would I want to work for a driver service? And if I was a company, what are the advantages and disadvantages of working for, or hiring, giving my employment to a driver service? So let's tackle the driver first. If I was a driver, what are their advantages disadvantages to working for a driver service? Why would I choose to work for a driver service rather than a trucking company direct Chris? That's a really good question. Why would somebody choose to work with an employment agency as opposed to going direct? And why would a company need the help of an employment agency? And what I would say is this first, I'm going to answer it to both groups and then I'll probably siphon it off for each one individually. The first, the first thing is you need to understand that we're always better when you have an advocate. I don't know about you, but in life there's been different times when I felt really alone. And when I have an advocate that stands next to me and supports me, I'm stronger. And that's true for employees. And that's true for employers, even when they're, you know, working with an employee and trying to, you know, work out a pay issue or to, you know, help them understand why things are, what they are. They find out that they're, they're better when they have an advocate. And so we act as an intermediary between the two parties to soak up some of the hurts and, and allow better communication between the two parties so that they both accomplish what they're hoping to. Does that make sense? We know that there's never been any miscommunication in any trucking company. No, of course not. It doesn't happen with truckers. It only happens, you know? Yeah, of course. So, you know, so, so that's kind of the reason, you know, more holistically, but then when you look at it from an individual standpoint, why a driver would want to work for us and, and not accompany, I would say that's a, that's a private individual decision based on the driver. And so they may, you know, it, it's no surprise to any of your listeners, that the population of drivers is changing dramatically. That demographic looks different today than it did 10 years ago than it did 20 years ago than it did 30 years ago. And, you know, with so many new immigrants as a part of that population, a lot of those people want to go home to their, you know, home of origin for a period of time. And when you're flying 12 to 24 hours, you don't want to go home for 15 minutes. Do you? It's not like you stop it into to your mom. It's, you know, they're going home for weeks and most trucking companies. If I could say to our shame as an industry have treated truck drivers like a commodity in the past and have just been straight out with guys said, look, if you leave for that long, we're going to flare you and the guys who said, I'm sure you've confused me with someone who can't get a job the very minute I get back to Canada. Have you heard of the driver shortage below? And so, you know, to our shame as an industry, we haven't allowed people the freedom to make those transitions. And, you know, was that done to us? Well, it's cost more in training. It's, you know, costs more in relational hardship between drivers. It's, it's an us versus them mindset in a lot of companies, you know, none of the top hundred fleets to drive for. But when you, when you get out, like how many, how many of the jobs in trucking actually are represented in the top 50 fleets or the top 100 fleets? 10%? I don't know. I don't know what the number is. It'd be interesting to know that if you, if you get Angela splinter on from the trucking human resource council, she might answer that question for you. But I would, I would say that it's not, it's not more than 20%. That's just, you know, me pulling something out of the side of my head, but I think that, so, so for the, for the drivers, it's, it's, it's that advocacy it's flexibility. It's the opportunity to work as an independent contractor, as an incorporated company, legally, legally, okay. We have very stringent operating rules for how we work with independent contractors that are incorporated companies with HST numbers that pay their taxes and, and run a right ship. And they conform to the laws of Canada and abide by the rules. And there's a bunch of people that fight this. But the reality is, is that Canada has set up rules for how this works. And if you can abide by the rules, you can do it legally. And if you can't abide by the rules, then you don't care about doing it legally. And I'm, I'm a guy who abides by the rules, we're rule followers. And I, I, one, I appreciate that because this whole driver Inc model that you are referring to when it's done illegally, really rubs me the wrong way, because I can remember back in my day when I was a supervisor at a trucking company, most of the drivers were taking home more money to their families. They weren't earning more, but they were able to take home more to their families because they weren't paying taxes and things like that. And this is, again, this is in that 30 year realm, a goal things have changed a lot, Right? They're incurring the tax burden related to it. And are they finding ways to skate on that tax burden? I don't know. That's up to them individually. That's up to revenue, Canada to take up with them. I'm not trying to promote people who are working illegally and I don't want people, I don't want to have to pay an extra share of my own taxes to cover somebody else. Who's not. So I'm obviously not going to support tax cheats. Okay. I have the Canada rev hotline on my phone on speed dial. So if I find anybody who's a tax cheat, I'm telling about, I hope everybody does that. Okay. I don't really have it on speed dial, but I know that it exists. And if I chose to do it, I would certainly do it. But I think the reality is the government of Canada is one of the largest users of corporations or, and independent contractors in the whole country. So they have created a system. They are benefiting from the system. And I don't see an end coming to the system anytime soon, despite what different lobbying groups would like to tell you? Well, I think there will be changes coming, but we as humans and particularly as the trucking industry, when change happens, we adapt very quickly. So I, and I'm certainly not smart enough to know how to make the changes or what changes might be coming. But so is it, They don't make the changes till the new rules come out, but every time the rules get written, someone smarter than me goes through the rules with a fine tooth comb and finds a method to make more money it's called free enterprise. And thank God we have it. I'm self-employed however, you know, under the Canadian structure, I'm legally, self-employed with multitude of, I'm blessed with many different sources of income. So, And I would tell you that, that you know of the, you know, it, I don't know how much of my business it represents anymore, but I would say that the guys that work for me in that vein all have multiple sources of income. And, and that's the primary rule. That's the primary rule that, that always provides them the safety. And then the, like the other reality is, is that we require, we don't work with any independent contractors that are sole proprietors or other things like that. If you tell me that you're going to run a legitimate business, you need to have the trappings of a legitimate business. So I'm, everybody has an HST number. Everybody has an incorporation that's legally incorporated in the country of Canada or in the province of Ontario. I got to make sure that we do it right. So, so I don't have any, a boogie man coming out from underneath the bed at night, if you know Yeah. Who needs CRA knocking at the door anyway, when we went down that rabbit hole, but there are advantages for drivers to work for a driver service. And you gave us some, are there any more before we switched to the company side, I think like, I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I would just go back to the advocacy. I dunno how you feel about this prison. I would just be interested in your take on it, but I genuinely believe that you don't choose a career in trucking, particularly as a driver, because you love spending a lot of time with people. If you choose a job where you're in an isolated 10 by 10 booth by yourself for 60 hours a week, I think that says something about your natural personality and desire to engage with people. And so some of those guys, I'm not saying all of them, but some of those guys need a hand to navigate the relationships with their dispatchers who used to live in the truck. Most of them and are angry about the fact they're stuck behind a desk and, and are yelling at the guy who can't make the deliveries the way he used to do the deliveries, because he's not the company man that I was. And so, so we, that advocacy plays out in real significant ways in managing those relationships. And it's something, unfortunately, one of the areas that I think we neglect our, our dispatchers and giving them some real tools and education on how to manage relationships, such as a relationship with a driver, you know, we take them, as you said, out of the truck, stick them behind the desk and then say, do this job. And we don't give them any added new skills. It's a whole different skillset, the guy, and the reason that happened, the reason why that was a natural, in my opinion, why that was a natural flow of, of a career path was driver to dispatcher was because the drivers knew all the routes. And the dispatcher had to know how to tell the driver, the route, walk into GPS 10 years ago with those that's not the skill set anymore. The skillset now is knowing what you can do legally within the bounds of the law, knowing when the customer needs the freight there and what that window time has and what the penalty is for missing that window, and then assisting the driver to accomplish that task in the timeframe that you have. And that's a whole different skill set. And it really isn't for a guy who chose to be a driver because he liked to see the open road, or he liked the independence of being in a truck. Now he's sitting three feet away or in COVID six feet away from another guy who doesn't like people and they're yelling at each other all day, and then they're yelling at their drags. Yup. Totally different skillset. Totally agree. And yeah, as I say, Maybe training, if we're going to continue to progress them through the same path that we've traditionally progressed them through, then they need new world training for new world skills. You know, you know, like I said, we hired, you know, got 300 people working every day. So we do a lot of hiring and people are always looking for people's soft skills. Well, what are soft skills? Well, no one can tell you because they're soft. Okay. There is not hard written. Nobody knows exactly what soft skills are, but people want people with an ability to talk and communicate and to have empathy. If you, you know, if you surf LinkedIn, as much as I do, there's like one in every four articles is about having more empathy. I was born without empathy. Empathy is Empathy. Empathy is different than sympathy. And I get the two confused, but empathy is the ability to see what someone in a situation and to have compassion for them in a way that helps them craft a way to get out of it or just to help carry their burden sympathies. Like, Hey, I saw that something bad happened to you. I'm sorry about that. Empathy is to actually give a crap. We'll see, in that kind of transitions into a working relationship with some of your customers, why does a customer come to you and say, Hey, I want to use a driver service or a staffing service. Sure. So companies use us for a number of reasons. Primarily they use us because they need us. They have trucks sitting against a fence and that's bad. That's the one rule that I've figured out in trucking is universally true trucks, sitting against a fence equals bad. And so they come to us to help solve that problem. They come to us to help them fill trucks that need to be trucked, to move freight that needs to be moved. And their recruiting department is having a level of success, but not the level of success that they need. And so they reach out to a third party for help. And we don't want to be your recruiting department. We want to be a partner with your recruiting department to fill your trucks, fill them for this week, fill them for this month, fill them on a long-term basis. And so we, we do all three of those things. If you've got the dye out on vacation, we will work with companies to fill that spot or several people's spots for several weeks. You know, we, we, we really have a big peak in the summers to help with vacation coverage. If you have somebody who's out on WSAB or you know, something for a long period of time, we'll cover off that longer stint. If you have peaks in your business, we'll help fill the truck for a peak period. And if you need people in the long-term, I will help fill your trucks. Yeah. In the, in the days let's say this is going back 30 years ago, a long time ago or more. Do you have contracts like where you are the supplier of the drivers for a specific location or for a specific company? All of, all of our relationships with customers, most of our relationships with customers, excuse me, are based on a written agreement. So contract yes. If you're saying, you know, do we handle the Sears portion of a company's business? Yeah. More, more that we would augment it. I'm I like to be the, the secondary supplier, the backup, the guy who helps make sure that everything happens more than the guy whose desk you're standing on. The first time of delivery doesn't happen. If that makes sense. So if I've got the whole contract and I miss, and I miss filling a truck, you're yelling and screaming at me, if I have the backup role and I miss filling the truck, you're disappointed in me, but you'll give me another shot. And the reality is is that we, I just have a fundamental business philosophy where I don't like to be beholden to any single customer for a majority of my business of my business is typically very nicely balanced between 20 or 30 different customers where we play a significant role, but not the dominant role. What I'm looking for is relationships with clients where, when I need a driver that is right up their alley, that I call them on Tuesday. They interview him on Wednesday or Thursday and they put him in a truck on Monday. What I'm trying to avoid is companies that call me on Monday for a driver the previous Saturday. And if I don't have them, somebody by Tuesday, they're yelling at me. I don't respond well to that. Yeah. And My experience with services was always filling them up. I say, I need two drivers tomorrow. And they would call back and say, yes, no. Like they always communicate really well because yeah, for sure. And these very seldom disappointed quite, and this was 30 years ago. So I can imagine things have gotten better since. Yeah. Well with additional communication channels, communication's gotten better, you know, in your day when we called you, you actually pick up the phone because one, you couldn't tell that it was us, that was called. And so you thought it might have been a customer and you had to answer the phone. Whereas now, you know, with caller ID, I, I see that it's Chris, the safety dog. And I'm like, yeah, I can take that call. But I see that it's, you know, Kim Richardson, I'm like, eh, I don't think I got time to talk to him today. And so like, the reality is, is that with more communication channels, there's more complexity to how we communicate with people, but really that's key to our whole business is just making sure that we are on top of it and that we're talking with people and we keep them informed. And up-to-date, and that works on both sides of the equation, both with employees and with clients. That's awesome. David, anything else that we need to know about revolution, staffing or Dave MacDonald? Sure. I think, I think the one thing that I would want you to know, Christian, I think that you do know this, you wouldn't have had me on your podcast is, you know, revolution staffing is about changing the way people think about agencies. And we do it one driver at a time. I'm not going to change the whole industry overnight. Okay. But by putting our drivers through a really regimented hiring process, we find the best available drivers in the marketplace. And we send them out to good companies. So for us, while our, you know, client facing purpose is to improve productivity and profitability through people, our employee facing purpose is to feed families one shift at a time. And I believe if I do a good job in both of those places, I can change the employment agency world. I can change the way people think about agencies. I can even change your mind. Hey, my mind, I'm all for agencies. There's a number of advantages. And as an employer, if I was a driver, because partially because of my age now, you know, if I was back driving, I wouldn't want to work five days a week, but I might be able to come to you and say, Hey, Dave, you know, I want to work this week, but I'm taking next week off, by the way. And then, you know, the flexibility that she, yeah, Our drivers love that. We, I don't know, I haven't looked at the numbers recently, but I would bet if you looked at mine, you know, people think that drivers service drivers are all, you know, sub one year experience. I don't have any guys that are, so in your experience, if you pulled my drivers for experience, I think you would see that we average around 15 years. So, you know, when we talk about, and that's one of the things that's different about me than other guys, like I, I know that I I've got customers that are asking me to lower my hiring criteria. And I'm like, no, no, you don't want me to do that. I'm sorry, that's a bad decision. I know that you're doing that. And, and, and in their environment where they're safety, people are fully engaged with every hire. They can reduce the hiring criteria and maintain a quality standard. But in when they're working with us, they don't look at our guys the same. They don't engage with them the same. And so I need to maintain my hiring standards so that I protect my customers. And I protect my good name. The reality That our driver. Yes, for sure. For sure. The driver's safety is, is ultimate and paramount. And if our guys go to work and they're not comfortable with what's in front of them, we want them to run screaming from the building. We don't want them to sneak away. We want them to get out of there and get out of there quick. The, you know, you ha you have to empower your employees to say no, or they never will. And so we don't ever take repercussions on employees who say, no, we are very forgiving employers. So one of the things about the agency world, we're very forgiving. And so, you know, when we have a difficult interaction with somebody, it, you know, it'll go bad for a couple of days, but we'll give them another shot. We'll help them out again. We'll try to find a new path for them to come back. I remember really early on, if you let me tell this story, this is one of my favorite stories about owning an employment agency. I was working with a guy. He was, he drove it two or three different accounts for me over a pay period. And he had a big expense coming up. And when he got his paycheck, it was less than what he needed. And he lost his money. He's yelled. And I was sitting in my back office, but he could see me through a window. And he yelled and screamed from the front of the office at me, calling me all sorts of awful things. He stood there and ripped up his paycheck is rip, rip, threw it on the ground or at the feet of the lady that was trying to help him and stormed out of the building. And I said to, I said to my payroll person, I said, Jeanette, can you go back into the step, go back into our payroll package and print that. Guy's check again. He's going to be back here in an hour. And he's going to know that having $600 today, even though it's not a thousand dollars a year means having $600 a day is going to be way more valuable than having nothing. And so he, she sat down, cut the check. I signed it. He walked back into the building an hour or two later and said, Dave, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have said those things. I wasn't, I wasn't healthy. It wasn't right for me. I was wrong. I shouldn't have spoke to you that way, you know, to think I could get another check. Is that sure, John, here it is. We already printed it for you. And that's, I just recognize that that's not the way every company treats their employees. And I'm not saying that I'm a hero because I did that. I was only giving that guy the money that he deserved, he earned the $600 and he may have actually earned the full thousand. I just didn't have authorization from the client to pay it all to him at that point. And I couldn't just take his word on it. And so one of the things that it's really important for me is to not withhold good from whom it is due when it's in your power to do so. And so it's an in my power to pay the guy, the money that I've been authorized to Pam, and I'm going to do everything that I can to get that guy as money. And so even in that time, when he was yelling and screaming at me and calling me all sorts of names, it wasn't the time for me to get back at him or to get even, it was time for me to make sure that we had the money for him, that he needed that day. And that's, you know, maybe that's one of the things that's different about revolution staffing than other companies. I don't know, but we are trying to change the way people think about agencies, both from the employee side and also from the customer side. Perfect. I think that's a great way to sum it up. David, thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it. It's always a pleasure, Chris, always great to talk to you. Thank you very much for your time. Hope you love the show. As much as I did, please Leave us a, like a thumbs up a review, a comment, a rating. If it is, thank you so much. And I do really appreciate the time and join us again next week for another exciting Andrew <inaudible>.