Welcome back to our Driver Onboarding Guide! The goal for this series of articles is to get you set up as quickly and comfortably as possible, so you can start booking shipments and making money.
Our first article covered the basic information, explaining the importance of a driver’s profile, preferred routes, and shipment categories — click here for a refresher.
In the second article, we’ll be dealing with the following topics:
- Background checks
- Messaging customers
- Winning your first bid
If you’re familiar with these, feel free to skip ahead to our next onboarding guide, titled Earnings, Expenses, Experience.
So you’ve signed up, created a profile, and found a shipment you’d like to bid on, but when you click it… it says you aren’t allowed to bid until you’ve submitted your information for a security screening of some kind. What’s up with that?
Here’s the deal. To make sure that all the drivers on the platform are reliable, professional folks doing legitimate business, we run a simple background check. You submit your information — phone number, address, SSN — and we run it through a screening service called Checkr, which verifies that you’re on the up and up.
As soon as you submit this information to us, you’ll be able to message customers and bid on their shipments. And once your background check has cleared, we’ll stamp your profile as “CitizenShipper-certified”!
Here's an interactive video tutorial showing you how to initiate your Background Check:
Here's an interactive tutorial for the visual learners
This might seem like a big hurdle to clear, but it really isn’t. If you don’t have a history of DUI or outstanding arrest warrants, if you’re not on any criminal watchlist, then don’t sweat it — the background check should come back clear.
Once you’re done with the background check, you can start bidding on shipments. However, before we get into the quotes and bids, let’s first cover the way you should address potential customers.
Communication is key to winning a shipment, before and after you send a bid. Our <messaging platform> allows you to chat with customers in real-time, but the way you present yourself is entirely under your control. Remember, it’s your own brand you’re representing here, not CitizenShipper’s, so put your best foot forward!
When it comes to messaging customers, we advise the following:
- Be professional. Let them know you’re serious about your business, and they’ll be more likely to hire you.
- Be personal. On the other hand, also let them know you’re human and not a faceless corporate entity.
- Be polite. Above all else, keep it civil. The customer may not know the ins and outs of the transportation business — don’t get upset, just clue them in.
- Be considerate of their needs. Most people want a reliable, experienced, and affordable transporter. If possible, try to offer these qualities.
As a rough guideline, here’s a good example of a successful message exchange between a driver and a customer:
Notice that this message was sent before a bid was made. Our data has shown that most successful drivers open with a message and only then, after making that personal contact, actually bid on the shipment.
One last thing about this: before you win the bid, we need you to keep all communication with the customer on the platform. Don’t try to send them your private email or phone number — we monitor for that and filter out those types of messages. Once you win the bid, we’ll handle the contact information exchange for you automatically. But before that, it’s in everyone’s best interest to stay on the platform, where everything is kept on record.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to bidding!
Winning Your First Bid
You can find shipments to bid on in your Dashboard, listed under the tabs to the right. If you click the Recommended tab, for example, you’ll see the shipments we think you might be interested in.
When you click one of the listed shipments, you’ll see what other people have been bidding — feel free to use this as an initial ballpark estimate of what your own bid should be for that particular shipment. Of course, there’s more to pricing a shipment: you’ll need to consider different factors, including your planned route and gas money.
Since you’re probably just starting out and don’t have many reviews on your profile yet, you’re at a disadvantage when it comes to more experienced drivers. Most people will prefer someone who’s been doing this for a while! But don’t worry — there are ways around this initial obstacle.
A common approach is to bid fairly low before you win your first few shipments. Maybe you go so low that you barely turn a profit on your initial shipment, but think of this as an investment — once you get positive feedback on your profile, once customers see that you’re a reliable, professional transporters, you’ll be able to start bidding higher.
But how low could you really go? Well, that depends. Transporters rarely charge less than $0.20 per mile, but with careful planning, you can turn a profit while bidding even less. This is where shipment stacking comes in: figure out your route so that you can make multiple stops, delivering several shipments while saving massively on gas and other expenses. Our handy shipment-stacking tool lists several stacking options whenever you click a shipment.
The key to winning that essential first shipment is persistence! You’ll need to keep trying, bidding repeatedly until you get one under your belt. Our data shows that once you win that first shipment, the odds of winning your second one are doubled. So keep at it, and you will break through — remember, all the successful drivers have faced the same issue early on!
There’s more ground to cover when it comes to bidding and messaging, but the essentials outlined above should be enough to set you on your way. For a more in-depth look, feel free to peruse our Help Center or become an active part of our driver community.
Speaking of the community, our next Onboarding guide will go through the expenses and earnings of a typical transporter, as well as list some of the ways for you to benefit from the experience of your fellow drivers.