One of the biggest concerns voiced by operators in the vending and micro market industry is the rate of turnover amongst route drivers. Hiring and training route drivers is a tedious process every operator knows too well; it’s an investment of time and money, from posting job openings to reading every application to educating the new employee on the industry.
In many instances, however, route drivers only stay for a brief period of time—around 1 or 2 years—and then vacate their position, leaving an operator scrambling to fill route delivery and having to start the rehiring process all over again.
The process may be alleviated, however, with the simple tips to help an operator hire and train the right driver the first time around…and hopefully maintain them as a valued member of the organization.
Hire—Look for retail-oriented applicants
Though some operators hire micro market-specific route drivers, many do not have the resources to do so and therefore have the same driver run both vending and micro market routes; however, a vending and micro market location cannot be serviced the same way.
A micro market should appear neat, clean, organized and inviting, with front-facing product in specific locations, meaning that the driver stocking the market must show keen attention to detail. He or she should be both detail and retail-oriented. When hiring new route drivers, look for applicants who have worked for many years at previous jobs (previous merchandising experience would be a plus).
An applicant with no merchandising experience can still make a great micro market route driver as long as he or she can demonstrate attention to detail and an understanding that presentation in micro markets is of great importance.
Oftentimes in a micro market, product changes frequently, so potential hires must also be flexible to ever-changing product SKUs.
Train—Create efficiencies for your driver
Once you have hired your new micro market route driver, the last thing you want is for them to leave. That’s why proper education and training is critical to an employee’s success. Teach them that there are tricks to merchandising in micro markets. Explain to them why really popular items should be on the edges and low in the market (people will look for those products) and why they should put new items and non-traditional products at eye/reach level (so that they are more visible, and hopefully inviting).
An operator can also make the driver’s job easier by cutting down on inefficiencies. Use a planogram in the micro market, which eases route driver on-site activities by creating a roadmap for product placement and also allocates shelf space to categories and products that sell. Additionally the ‘more SKUs the better’ mentality can be dangerous for a route driver, increasing time in the market.
Communicate often with your micro market route driver to see if they have ideas on how to create efficiencies—letting your driver know you value their opinion is one way to get them to stay onboard for the long haul.
Maintain—Encourage and reward
Lack of recognition can drive the best employees to quit. Micro market route drivers spend much of their day on the road and in the location as the face of your company—make sure that they are being recognized as vital personnel to your operation.
If you’re not able to provide a monetary bonus as often as you’d like for your micro market driver, offer them (and other employees, for that matter) other perks such as a daily complimentary meal.
Create an ‘achievements board’ where you post positive customer comments about their micro market route driver, as well as personal achievements of each driver. If a micro market driver fills in for someone, recognize that in some form, even if it’s an in-person ‘thank you’.
Micro market route drivers are not a dime a dozen, so when you find one with a great can-do attitude and willingness to learn the business, be sure you’re giving them the proper tools and encouragement to succeed.