This past week, as we prepare for the National Automatic Merchandising Association OneShow in Chicago, our staff has been poring through nominations from vending operators, supervisors, managers and even sales people for the Eighth Annual Route Driver of the Year Award. As usual, there are many excellent drivers to choose from.Since Automatic Merchandiser and Kraft Vending & OCS introduced this contest eight years ago, the process of reading through the nominations and selecting the most deserving driver has been the most engaging and, paradoxically, most troubling project for our staff. It is engaging because in these nomination forms, the passion that these drivers excite among their employers and their colleagues is electrifying. There is no question that many companies feel strongly about their drivers. And well they should.It is troubling because while our staff takes great pride in honoring these individuals, there are many highly deserving drivers who dont get recognized.To rectify this situation, in 2009 we began recognizing quarterly winners, one of whom becomes the grand prize winner. This has allowed more excellent drivers to be recognized. But the nominations keep coming in and there are still a lot of good people who go unnoticed.Which takes me to the recommendation I have been wanting but have been afraid to make.The winning drivers are based on a numerical score that considers key job performance areas. In addition, the nomination form asks for an explanation in writing why the driver is being nominated.The winner is typically a driver who scores well and whose nominator gives a very compelling reason why his or her driver should win.To win the contest, the nominator must describe, using specific examples, what makes the driver special. Generalizations like hes a great guy or shes a team motivator are not helpful. A story about how the driver took extra time to deliver a special present to a customer who was sick is what pushes that driver to the top of the list.Any kind of story about how your drivers go above and beyond the normal requirements of their job helps us choose the most worthy recipient.Think about your route drivers performance from the perspective of the customer. Any actions or behavior that make the customer think that your driver is a great guy is the stuff that will set them apart from the pack.