Back in the last century when I got out of high school, there was a job open in the warehouse of PPTB Vending. I got it and have worked here ever since. PPTB stands for People Push The Buttons (on my machines). They are the real customers. Those who insert their money or swipe a card for snacks, coffee, tea, water, and so many more choices are why I keep working.
Lots of changes have happened in my time as a driver. We went from vending, adding office coffee and water, opening micro markets and now pantries. I have been called a lot of names in my life, including route driver, sales associate, convenience services manager, and now convenience solutions talent (provider).
I am a solutions provider. One of my talents is that I know what the people who push the buttons on the machines in each of my locations want, need, and expect. I know what they like (and dislike), based on their tastes. Wish my company would ask me what I am seeing on the route so we can improve our convenience solutions. No one ever asks. And when I do suggest, it falls on deaf ears. No one listens. I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut.
I have the skills, knowledge, and attitude that it takes to be a success in this business. My job requires initiative and attention to detail. The senior driver, we used to call him “Pappy,” who taught me to run a route told me I should take it on myself to solve problems when I see them. He used to say: “don’t make me have to tell you!” What he meant was to see a situation, figure out what to do, and do it.
No matter who you call me, the fact is that convenience solutions are provided through my “silent partners, my machines.” They are on the front line, point of service delivery, so essential to offering the convenience solutions for those who push the buttons. My machines are on duty 24/7/365; ready to serve, provided that I keep them clean, filled, and working (CFW).
My machines are never late, call in sick, complain, not show up, or quit. As long as they are CFW, my machines are good and faithful servants for the people who push the buttons. Those people want choices that appeal to their tastes. Each machine and each person may have a slightly different set of choices. As the convenience solutions talent, I am there to provide the selections.
My role is to fill these choices; present my silent partners in clean ways; and be sure that the partners are working. Clean. Filled. Working. – My machines – Pappy told me to never forget these are three very important words. These three words are the understanding between me and my partners. They are the lifeblood of PPTB Convenience Solutions’ ability to satisfy the people who push the buttons.
The Take Away
NAMA and MSU currently have a Route Drivers and Clients research project underway. We need your input and your experiences to help us better understand the responsibilities of route drivers. The survey takes less than 10 minutes. THANK YOU for helping the industry improve.
Operator Survey: http://bit.ly/1kiHTnT
Route Driver Survey: http://bit.ly/2czpZyG
Client Survey: http://bit.ly/2cZahrZ
About the Authors
Greg Sidwell, NCE5, CCS is president/CEO of G & J Marketing and Sales.
Dr. Ronald F. Cichy, NCE5, O.M. is a professor in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University.