Auto Service World
Feature   December 23, 2015   by Steve Pawlett

Delivering the Goods






While I recently enjoyed a conversation with some industry friends about the coming age of drones delivering auto parts, it is likely going to be quite some time before a flying robot delivers anything from your shelves.

Even if it were to show up tomorrow, I doubt today’s technology or the regulations in place would allow dozens of flying gizmos to carry alternators, batteries, etc., over the unsuspecting heads of Canada’s population.

So, if we can all agree that the delivery driver will be with us for the foreseeable future, then we can also agree that they are also going to play an important role in the success of your business.

It is a given, or should be, that delivery drivers understand that they are the face of your business, to most of your customers and the public at large. They should be instructed to be courteous drivers. Every day, I see clearly marked business vehicles being driven with heinous disregard for others on the road. And yes, sometimes I call, but mostly I just scratch that company off the list of companies I will ever use.

Delivery drivers see your customers more than any other individual connected to your business. You should have standards in place for how they appear and conduct themselves, even if you use independent brokers for some deliveries. This does not necessarily mean a full uniform – though that might be nice – but at a minimum they should be presentable and polite.

They should also know a bit about your business, what returns are and how they are handled, what a customer means when he wonders about his credits, and how to communicate any concerns back to their manager at the store.

In these ways they become a valuable member of the team beyond the swiftness of parts delivery.

But there’s more. If you take a progressive view of the role of your drivers as more than drivers, but as both representatives of the company and the future of your company, they should also be learning to engage with the customer – even if only briefly – on each delivery.

More than any other member of your team, they can be your eyes and ears in the market. They should be taught to see what opportunity looks like. For example, if a shop perennially has cars spilling out of the bays, perhaps they are in the market for an additional lift. If a driver can take note of the general profile of vehicles being serviced – domestic, Asian, European – and bring this information back to the store to see if it matches up with their buying profile or not, they can really uncover some opportunities.

One other aspect that I have touched on briefly but should not be soft-pedalled is this: for any number of reasons – a move to brokers, insurance, greater use of occasional and “mature” drivers – many companies have moved away from having the delivery position being the entry role for new employees. I won’t argue with the financial imperatives, but at a time when it is acknowledged that we have such trouble getting youth into this industry, it would seem unwise to completely cut off this avenue.

From today’s drivers come tomorrow’s top counterpeople, star managers, and, yes, perhaps even owners. You have the opportunity to get them started off the right way. Don’t let short-term thinking cause you to ignore that.

publisher’s comment  |  with andrew ross, publisher  »

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