How can I avoid hiring the same (wrong) type of person every time?

That problem is generally the result of hiring for technical skills or certifications over attitude. While certain skills are a must for each position we are trying to fill, we can’t get caught up in only looking for these skills. Perhaps we need to hire for attitude and aptitude regardless of experience, licenses, or certifications. We can always train the right candidate for the hard skills they need and help them to obtain their licenses or certifications, but we can’t change their basic personalities to fit our team no matter how hard we try. 

Jerr-Dan team members

This is why I prefer to hire folks without towing-specific experience and train them from the ground up. The extra time and effort pay dividends in their improved attitude, plus you don’t need to take the time to retrain all their bad habits away.

Honesty goes a long way in the hiring process. Towing is a difficult career, often with long, odd hours, bad weather, ungrateful customers, and the risk of physical harm daily. Actually, it’s a wonder anyone wants to drive a tow truck! We can’t control many of these factors, but we can manage the applicant’s expectations right from the start. It doesn’t do anyone any good to sugarcoat what the job entails, because they won’t last and you will have wasted thousands of dollars hiring and training someone that wasn’t a fit from the start.

I know we need to fill positions, often quickly, but the hiring process cannot be rushed for it to be effective. Besides the basic background screening that may be required by law enforcement and insurance, a good hiring process includes multiple interviews conducted by different people within your company, maybe even a ride-along for the driver or roadside technician positions. This will allow the applicant to see firsthand what the job really is, and multiple interviews with different staff members will give you a better picture of the applicant as a whole. Don’t forget to include a hands-on skills demonstration to check for technical aptitude or ability, depending on what level of experience you choose to look for.

If you are serious about building culture within your organization, I strongly suggest administering personality profiles. It may help you identify different positions where someone’s unique personality traits may be better suited. For example, do you really want an introvert as the first line of communication with your company? They may be better suited to a back-office admin role than as a dispatcher.

Final Thoughts
My closing thought on improving your team is that anyone can strive to improve. What I’ve described isn’t just for big companies. Even family businesses can find ways to better communicate and support each other for their own good, which in turn will improve the company as a whole. Change doesn’t need to be scary, nor does it even need to be huge to be effective. Little baby steps along the way will make major improvements over time.