Have you ever heard the saying, “the customer is always right?” There’s a reason vendors feel that your opinion matters. However, how often do you actually tell a company whether you like or dislike their product? As a professional driver, you are an influential customer. You buy fuel and supplies at truck stops, clothing and food at retail and grocery stores, and you purchase services from your tax preparer to your dog groomer.
What about your carrier? Are you treated as if you are a customer? Whether you are an owner-operator or a company driver, you’re more than an employee or contractor. When you are looking for a new company in an effort to increase your income, you are a customer. You’re in the process of “shopping” for a new carrier.
What do you look for when you’re “shopping?” Are you looking for a company with better pay? What about more home
time? Maybe the make and model of the truck is your top priority. What about the type of freight or trailer? Is the geographic region important to you? Are you looking for a carrier with the sexiest models in their booths or ads?
What does this have to do with trucking? Look around you the next time you walk into a trucking industry trade show. How many vendors and carriers use (and I mean “use”) women in short skirts or skimpy tops to try to bring you into their booths? Do you stop and chat with these “booth babes” because you are certain they represent all of the women at that trucking company? Maybe you stop and get your photo taken with the girls in the hot pants who are spinning the game wheel for you.
Do you walk by them because you have your wife and kids in tow? If you are a female driver, do you really feel that the trucking company or vendor is trying to reach YOU? Probably not.
Well, guess what? As a customer, you have some clout. If you are offended by the advertisers and carriers who use sex to get your attention, you need to let them know how you feel.
Maybe you enjoy talking to these young girls who obviously have no connection to the trucking industry. They are there to get your attention. That’s okay, we understand, you might be married, but you’re not dead. However, would you want your daughter or niece or granddaughter to be standing in a 10’ x 20’ booth with a short skirt and low cut top being ogled by truck drivers? Would you?
The last time I checked the calendar, it was 2013 and we are trying to embrace diversity and be inclusive. Using sex to sell products, services, or companies takes us back thirty years to the days when there were (almost) only men driving trucks. There were men running the trucking companies and men buying the tires, trailers, and just about everything associated with big trucks.
As a traffic manager at a steel fabricating plant in the late seventies, I was approached by sales “men” who wanted my business. They represented airfreight, truckload, and LTL carriers, as well as the rail and intermodal companies. They weren’t sure how to treat a young female traffic manager who was responsible for shipping steel fabricated products out and raw steel in. This was before deregulation, so rates were consistent regardless of the carrier. They had to sell me on service and region.
The methods these salesmen used to obtain my shipping business were often questionable and bordered on illegal. I was offered everything from dates with professional athletes to some products I had never experienced because of their tendency to land the user in jail. The competition was tough.
Deregulation brought with it a way to differentiate carriers in regard to shipping rates. They didn’t need to rely on other ways to convince customers to use their services. I didn’t “buy” their methods as the company’s needs were my priority. Choosing a carrier was about getting the product to the customer in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.
That was nearly 25 years ago. Although the industry has changed, there are still vendors that ASSUME all drivers are men. Don’t let them get away with it. Remember that when you see advertisements that use sex to sell a product or service. If the item is something you need, you’ll buy it. The short skirts and low cut tops aren’t relevant. It’s your job to tell them. You’re the customer. You’re always right!
About the Author
Ellen Voie is the President of Women in Trucking.
Mission: Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.
Ellen Voie CAE, President/CEO
P O Box 400 Plover, WI 54467-0400
888-464-9482 920-312-1350 Direct