Effective delivery practices and driver training can help build strong customer relationships.
As a store manager, you should recognize that your delivery person is a very important employee. He is extremely valuable when you consider the fact that he sees your customers more often than anyone in your organization. The impression that he leaves with your customers is important to the success of your store.
Certainly, this means being courteous and polite, but this is only the beginning.
As a manager, you should always take the time to discuss the importance of the job. This cannot only help build a long-term relationship with the employee, but can also help to build the business. Courtesy to customers and in driving habits is an important step in setting the tone of behavior you expect from drivers.
Since most deliveries take only a minute or so once the driver has arrived at the customer’s garage, most of the time they spend representing your company is done behind the wheel. We all know of the notorious tales of dangerous driving employed by the pizza delivery boy, but do we really know what the cost is to business?
Your driver should always keep in mind that safety comes first. While speed of delivery is important in such a service-oriented business, this should not mean breaking speed limits, running stop signs, or engaging in any other dangerous driving techniques that could injure the reputation of your company, or worse, lead to an accident.
As a manager, you can set the tone for your delivery staff. You need to let them know that a reasonable pace of delivery is expected, but that there is no room for dangerous driving. Considering that most of your customers are only a few kilometers away, far more time can be saved by eliminating idle chat with other staff members before leaving for a delivery run than can be gained by speeding. Do the math: A delivery 5 km away at 50 km/h takes six minutes. At 80 km/h it would take three minutes and 45 seconds. Is your customer really going to fret about the two minutes and 15 seconds?
Being quick and efficient should, however, not be confused with rushing. While deliveries should be executed quickly and courteously, always remembering to thank the customer for the order, even a short time spent with a customer can be valuable.
You should let your drivers know about the importance of being observant when they are at the customer’s place of business. Not only should they be courteous, they should be observant. There may be situations arising at the time that a savvy delivery person can turn into extra business for your store. Is there a job on the hoist that can turn into an order? Is the staff complaining about a piece of equipment that’s beyond repair? Is there a training situation that you might be able to help with? Delivery drivers are often your eyes and ears and they should not be afraid to ask for the business. Any orders should still go through regular channels, but the delivery person can still serve as a valuable bird dog.
A well-trained driver can also be a valuable resource for the customer. Accordingly, they should be trained in store policies regarding core credits and warranty, billing credits and promotional pricing. They should carry a few current promotional flyers in the vehicle with them in case the customer is interested in one of the items, but can’t find their copy. It may not be reasonable to expect drivers to be full-blown customer service reps, but they should be able to answer simple questions about return policies, warranties, credits, etc. If an issue gets more complicated they can defer to the management, but they should always be able to answer the first line of questioning.
An important part of delivery management is returns management. It is vital that delivery drivers ensure that cores are logged and credits processed, warranty returns are handled and wrong-part returns are staged for inspection and re-shelving. In addition, all paperwork should be returned to the appropriate people. You should make it a habit to have drivers ensure that their vehicles are free of any parts or paperwork at the end of the day.
Instituting this process will help drivers understand the administrative systems of your business, which will help them later if they move to a position behind the counter.
Drivers should be responsible for the basic cleanliness of the vehicle, but you need to ensure that proper maintenance and appearance are at the appropriate level. A smoking, poorly turned out delivery truck does not reflect well on your business. A well-running vehicle in good condition can be a point of pride for a driver and make them feel just that much better about working for you.
It is inevitable that, at one time or another, one of your delivery drivers will have a crash. It may be his fault, it may not. It may be minor, it may be more serious. Drivers should know ahead of time what is expected of them in the event a collision occurs.
As soon as possible, the driver needs to inform you or another supervisor. After asking about their personal wellbeing—they may be hurt, but trying to fulfill their duties as a driver–you should ask about any others. This is only to say that your initial reaction should not be to ask about the truck. Concern for your driver and others involved should be your priority.
After ensuring that your driver is in good condition, inquire about what happened, how many vehicles were involved, the extent of damage to the delivery vehicle, whether it is driveable or not and inform the driver what they should do. It may be necessary to send another driver to pick up the order and transfer it to their vehicle.
Obviously, all accidents need to be reported properly and any recurring problems need to be dealt with, but the latter should be dealt with at a separate time.
Everybody knows that a store’s wellbeing depends largely on having a dependable delivery operation. As a manager, you should never neglect the human element of the delivery equation. An efficient and effective delivery staff can go a long way toward securing and maintaining good customer relations.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Are you interested in learning more about Store Operations? The University of the Aftermarket’s Delivery Management self-study video course can help. In addition to the above, this program addresses other issues related to the employee orientation such as:
Driver Performance Evaluation;
Delivery Route Evaluation;
Delivery Resource Planning;
Delivery Expense Estimating;
The study book also includes a Driver’s Manual which can be adapted for your business.
What are the next steps you need to take to explore the topics contained in this self-study program? You can register on the University of the Aftermarket’s web page at www.univaftmkt.org or you may fax your order to the University (816-523-8252) or call the University registrar at 1-800-621-UNIV. The University accepts MasterCard, VISA, Discover, and American Express.
The Delivery Management course is just one in a series of self-study courses from the University of the Aftermarket covering a variety of subjects to help jobbers run a more effective, efficient business. In addition to video self-study courses, there are other educational resources available. Information is available from the university.
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