School Bus Contractors

Looking for More Drivers? Try School Bus Safety Outreach

O. Shelley Kemp
Posted on June 20, 2018
Shown here are student winners of Durham’s 2016 School Bus Coloring and Poster Contest with their teachers, principal, and the local chamber of commerce director.
Shown here are student winners of Durham’s 2016 School Bus Coloring and Poster Contest with their teachers, principal, and the local chamber of commerce director.

What started out as an initiative to recruit parents searching for a part-time job turned into an annual effort for the Shelby County, Tennessee, recruitment team at Durham School Services. The company’s recruiters teamed up with school districts and the company’s safety team to educate their communities about school bus safety.

In 2014, Recruiting Specialist LaTonya Lyons and I wanted to explore the possibility of attracting stay-at-home parents to apply for driver positions. Knowing that the third week of October is National School Bus Safety Week, we partnered with the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and started Durham’s annual School Bus Coloring and Poster Contest for elementary and middle school students in October. NAPT designed a coloring page, which included space at the bottom with a message informing parents that positions were open, and that recruiters would contact them if they provided their contact information.

That year, 960 coloring pages were returned. We received 33 leads, and five people were hired as a result of the effort to both recruit parents and inform kids of the importance of school bus safety. A recruiting tradition was born.

Since its inception, Durham’s School Bus Safety Week campaign has brought forth messages every October of anti-bullying, as well as two years of NAPT’s #StopOnRed campaign. It has also sparked an awareness of school bus safety at 18 schools in four cities in and around west Tennessee, for more than 3,000 students, an estimated 14,160 households. Most importantly, it added new hires to Durham’s school bus driving population.

Durham staff members display posters for the 2017 contest.
Durham staff members display posters for the 2017 contest.

Here are five tips to help you create a community message to bring in driver applications.

1. Research industry associations.

Review calendars, conventions, and safety and community programs of those associations and identify common goals, visions, or values between them and your business. You can build on those just as Durham’s recruiting team has with NAPT.

2. Partner with your local chambers of commerce.

Chambers of commerce often have an annual calendar of events that they organize. They are the best way to get close to your communities, and chamber representatives appreciate companies that want to provide a message regarding public safety. Recruiters who make themselves an extension of the company’s dedication to safety will most likely garner the support of chamber members, thereby capturing referrals as well.

3. Host a safety carnival or conference for the community.

Although the theme isn’t job recruitment, recruiters can still benefit from organizing a safety conference for the community. Offer commercial driver’s license (CDL) and first aid classes on site. Bring in the local police association, fire department, and ambulance services to not only provide safety tips for the public, but to also lead workshops on community safety programs. Consider that the community members who participate in this type of event are typically safety-minded and make great recruits for school bus drivers.

O. Shelley Kemp is a talent acquisition partner for Durham School Services, a National Express LLC company.
O. Shelley Kemp is a talent acquisition partner for Durham School Services, a National Express LLC company.

4. Write press releases in cooperation with your safety department to report safety initiatives or accomplishments.

As a recruiter, nothing supports the effort of recruiting new drivers more than good press. Work with your company’s communications department to ensure media outlets are hearing about progress in the area of safety. Professional drivers want to join a company that provides a safe environment and has a positive reputation.

5. Host your own contest among school districts during National School Bus Safety Month.

While coloring contests appeal to elementary students, poster contests, art contests, or even debate team contests may appeal to older students. Work with principals, school administration, or school board members to showcase students’ artwork at local libraries, at your school bus center, or even at local art galleries. Host an awards night to draw in families (i.e., referrals), and solicit support from chamber of commerce members for prizes for the students. 

Related Topics: contractors, driver recruitment/retention, Durham School Services, NAPT, National School Bus Safety Week

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