Truck on a road, the sun is setting in the background

Case study: recruiting truck drivers

February 12, 2024

In this case study, we investigate how journey mapping helped Dot Transportation, Inc. (DTI) – one of the USA's largest private trucking companies – identify and attract aspiring truck drivers, improve its hiring processes, and reinforce its reputation as a respectable employer in the trucking industry. 

About the company

DTI is the exclusive transportation affiliate of Dot Foods, North America’s largest food product redistributor. Through Dot Foods’ revolutionary redistribution model, distributors are able to order less-than-truckload quantities of product from multiple food suppliers all at once. These custom orders are assembled in one of Dot Foods’ 15 North American distribution centers and shipped to all 50 states by way of DTI’s fleet of more than 1,700 trucks. Together, these companies help to bridge the gap between food product manufacturers and distributors.

This case study was conducted with Kathleen Parvis, creative services manager for Dot Foods and DTI. Her motivation to start a journey map project was to better understand the audience to which they were communicating.

Problem statement

The project aimed to understand how to more effectively reach potential employees, educate them on the advantages of trucking careers, and position DTI as a reputable career path. 

This project focused specifically on prospective truck drivers as truck drivers make up the majority of DTI’s employee base.

The truck driving industry has a notoriously low retention rate with only a small percentage of drivers choosing to stick with a single company for their entire careers. Much of the workforce is in their 40s and 50s, and, generally speaking, it’s not a career path to which many Gen Z’ers are exposed early on.

During the pandemic, many trucking companies struggled to fill seats, and DTI was no exception. Experienced CDL (commercial driver’s license) drivers were in high demand and many hiring trucking companies focused their efforts exclusively on this population.

At DTI, this approach represented only a fraction of their overall plan. In addition, DTI developed a campaign targeted at those who had never driven trucks before and, in many instances, may have never previously considered doing so.

In this case study, we’ll explore this approach and see how DTI triggered both industry and employer awareness.

Project setup and process

Interviews & persona workshops

The brand marketing team of DTI began by conducting interviews with drivers and other transportation professionals to get a clearer picture and elaborate on one or more personas. Also, managers, trainers, and recruiters of drivers in various locations were invited to share their experiences and points of view. These findings of demographics and psychographics were compiled into a target persona that the team referred to as “Eddie”. From then on, all actions were conducted in an effort to convince “Eddie” to join DTI to advance their career.

Journey map workshop

Using the Smaply journey mapping exercise, all this information was also used in the subsequent meetings to create a journey map. The entire recruiting process was discussed and narrowed down to four stages of Eddie’s job-seeking journey.

  1. Awareness
  2. Investigate
  3. Interest
  4. Apply

In rounding out this persona, the team was able to brainstorm ideas on how to improve Eddie’s experience and convince prospective candidates that driving for DTI could be a fulfilling career choice.

Design Thinking Learnings

The next steps involved taking the journey map learnings and conducting ideation sessions on what needed to be done to move Eddie into the next stage (e.g. landing pages, emails, digital and print ads, etc.). The team developed an action plan and prioritized the work derived from these ideation sessions.


The next step was to create storylines by developing and implementing clear action items in an effort to reach and influence Eddie. Based on the journey map phases, the storylines helped to map out the content and action steps needed to help move Eddie along his journey and find value in DTI as an employer of choice. In each step, the following questions were asked:

  • What is Eddie doing?
  • What is Eddie thinking and saying?
  • What is Eddie feeling?
  • What can we do to help him and guide him to the next phase?
A section of a journey map showing the discovery phase of Eddie's journey.

Step One: Awareness

The first step was to raise awareness and build interest in trucking careers. The team developed strategies based on stories of what it was like to be a driver. With multiple driver stories at their disposal, it became easier to illustrate what drivers like Eddie could come to expect out of a career behind the wheel.

Step Two: Investigate

Phase two was all about persona Eddie investigating and learning that DTI can be a great choice as an employer. In this phase, the important points were to: 

  • Show the availability of driving schools to get the necessary education and training.
  • Connect aspiring drivers with experienced drivers.
  • Illustrate why driving—especially driving for DTI—is a good career choice.
  • Demonstrate DTI thought leadership.

Step Three: Interest

In the next phase, Eddie searched for where he could attain a commercial driver’s license and attended school for it. In this step, he also considered various employer options, but he knew from previous research and conversations that DTI is a great employer. Furthermore, his driving school offered advice for picking an employer.

Step Four: Apply

Now Eddie decided to reach out and apply for a position as a driver for DTI. The application and hiring process was transparent and frictionless, and Eddie looked forward to embarking on his new career path.

Minimum viable product

At this point, the findings were brought back to the wider project team, and the concept was presented to them. Together, they developed MVP (or “minimum viable product”) benchmarks. The next step was to develop those benchmarks by way of an Agile methodology while constantly keeping journey maps front of mind.

Project-specific challenges and benefits

One of Kathleen’s biggest challenges was getting the right people in the room from the beginning. Having an online tool that allowed people across the country to join in and collaborate was key.

In order to do so, the team felt the need to use a journey mapping tool and opted for Smaply. This was helpful to the team in a variety of aspects. First and foremost, it leveled the playing field and offered equal opportunities to everyone, remote or in person, participating in the process. 

The structure and limitations were perceived as an advantage because they forced note-takers to be concise and only write down the most crucial things. 

Smaply helped them map out the journey through the process. It helped keep conversations going and brought clarity and solutions to questions the team didn’t even know they had. Journey mapping helped the team walk a mile in Eddie’s shoes by first removing their own. 

“We learned a lot about what we don’t know. Journey mapping brought up answers to questions we didn’t even think to ask.”

– Kathleen Parvis


The entire Eddie process opened up a wealth of opportunity with regard to employer branding and allowed DTI to make the best of messaging through targeted channels and messaging. Driver applications increased across the board and resulted in a prospective driver and CDL school wait list that continues growing by the day.

The biggest challenge in the journey mapping process was to establish the mindset of a journey map as a living document. 

Overall, the journey map project was a full success and leveled the playing field for future projects.

With only a small team and limited time put into journey mapping, DTI managed to position itself as one of the most attractive employers in the trucking industry for drivers with all levels of experience.