Characteristics of Top Drivers

Jan. 13, 2009
Some route drivers are simply better than others. The question is why and how can you hire more successful drivers.

The best route drivers have a set of characteristics that make them ideally suited for the job. When you find someone with the right personality, interests and mental capabilities as well as the right attitudes toward honesty, ethics, reliability and substance abuse, you can be confident you are hiring someone who will succeed as a route driver; it’s that simple. Measuring these characteristics before you hire leads to a greater likelihood of success. Let’s look at the three characteristics found in most good route drivers.

1. They must have the right personality. These characteristics determine how well a person is suited for a job, leading to increased productivity and decreased turnover.

Successful route drivers:

  • Are not very sociable. They prefer to work independently. They are most effective when they are not required to present their ideas or opinions to others.
    As one operator said: “We hired a new route driver who was a very personable guy. We thought he would make a good impression when visiting our accounts. But we found that he was talking to and joking with people most of the day and really didn’t focus on filling the machines.”
  • Have a high energy level and like to work at a brisk pace. They enjoy the repetition of filling the machines quickly and moving on to the next account. They feel good at the end of the day when they filled machines accurately and efficiently.
  • Take direction well and can work without constant supervision. They are willing to take direction from others and follow other people’s lead. They respond well to motivation from management without really expressing a particularly positive attitude. This is not someone you need to watch over all the time. The best route drivers are independent and enjoy getting the job done.

2. They generally share the same interests in life. These characteristics determine how long the person will stay on the job.

Successful route drivers generally:

  • Enjoy the technical aspects of the job. As you might expect, they are mechanical by nature. They like working with tools. They fix their machines when needed, so they operate smoothly and take pride in doing so.
  • Don’t need to be creative. An operator was heard to say: “We hired a driver who we hoped could find new ways to improve efficiency. But we found this driver spent most of his time thinking up new ways to do things instead of focusing on the job at hand — filling the machines.”
  • Don’t want to interact and serve people. The best ones stick to the “knitting” and don’t focus on the people around them. They focus on getting the job done quickly and moving on to the next location.
  • Don’t like to prepare written reports. Top performers like to concentrate on completing the day’s work, not writing up summaries for management.

3. They must have the right mental capabilities. These characteristics determine if the person can do the job.

Successful route drivers must:

  • Process information quickly and have the ability to learn new things.
  • Understand fairly complex verbal information.
  • Respond well to straightforward questions.
  • Use numbers to help with decisions.
  • Not become bored by the repetition of filling machines.
  • Have the smarts to think, act and make decisions on their own.

Determine Ethics

You can decline to hire because of poor attitude, but you cannot fire an employee for it post-hire. Therefore, it is also important to screen out applicants with poor attitudes toward honesty, ethics, reliability and/or substance abuse. Quick, simple and inexpensive assessments can accurately reveal these poor attitudes pre-interview.

Ready for more good news? Assessments also allow you to determine someone’s personality traits, interests and mental capabilities — the characteristics that make up that successful driver. Use of assessment virtually assures new hires will be successful before you hire them.

As an operator in California recently stated: “These tools have made our hiring process much more time efficient and productive. Now we only interview applicants who ‘have what it takes’ to be successful.”

Companies in the vending, OCS and foodservice industries are finding the job match method approach to hiring a much more efficient and productive process than the traditional inefficient and costly hiring methods used in the past.

Operators currently using these hiring tools include: Treat America, Custom Coffee Plan, McMurray Coin, Eagle Vending and Pavlic Vending. NAMA has also reported success, as has Custom Data Solutions, a data service supplier to the industry, and Patterson Co. Inc., a Midwest vend product broker.

About the Author

Dave McCaffrey | Hiring Process Specialist

Dave McCaffrey is a vending/OCS veteran representing Profiles International, a NAMA Business Partner. Contact him at 630-941-3469; email: [email protected].


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