Your Drivers are Ads. Good or Bad.

My inspiration for this blog came to me in the car while sitting at a red light.  Yes, it is true, the topic hit me the moment my car windows began to vibrate due to the loud music emanating from the van that had just pulled up along side of me at the traffic light.  As usual I was dying of curiosity to check out the driver so I glanced over and saw the young man, who was oblivious to his surroundings, busy drumming on the steering wheel and grooving to the music.  Then my eyes caught and wondered over to the vehicle’s logo and it was a Dish TV van!  Now maybe he was detoxing on his way to his next appointment after a bout with a very difficult customer.  Who knows, but my first thought was “do I want this bozo in my house?”  That’s why I find the Fiber One commercial very funny.  The delivery driver with the Fiber One logo on his truck, is interrogated by a woman who pulls up next to him about the product.  I love his line, “I just drive the truck mam.”  Not true.  Whether you like it or not, your drivers whether they’re delivering goods or services are roving advertisements for your business.  After all they are moving products or equipment from your warehouse or distribution center with the company logo right there for the world to see.

Their actions can also give a poor lasting perception about your company whether justified or not.  It speaks of your selection process when hiring and the level of training you provide. I recently had 4 cartons of various sizes and weights shipped to my home and the UPS driver who arrived was pure entertainment.  First,  he didn’t check to see if anyone was home, and had carried one of the heavy boxes to the front door.  I told him he could bring the rest to the garage since it was a much less distance for him to travel.  He proceeded to carry the second and third box, all heavy up the drive way to the garage and I could see him sweating and was getting exhausted.  He then disappeared into his brown van and I could hear him rummage around and emerge with a hand truck.  Apparently he decided to use it for the fourth box which he first tried to get out through the drivers entrance but couldn’t fit it so he had to move it the length of the vehicle to the back.  It would have taken much less time to complete the delivery had he used the hand-truck in the first place saving so many wasted steps.  So is this an issue of poor training or poor hire?  How long would he last with this technique he was using during the holiday rush?

Then there are drivers of businesses like heavy equipment transportation who don’t get hired by many everyday people and have a smaller circle of users.  They have drivers like Mr. Rude who couldn’t care less what people think of his driving or the company he drives for because he knows his boss needs him too much.  Now I’m sure the Bullet Transport driver didn’t think that way, but more likely had, had a long and hard day and was just rushing to get back to the yard when he actually gave one full blink of his turn signal to let the poor approaching Camry driver know he was pulling into traffic.  Good thing the Camry driver already had white hair.  It was a clear near miss and then as a good measure to keep anyone from getting in front of him he stopped and totally blocked an intersection while waiting for the light to change at.  I’m also sure he was thinking of the over time he was costing his boss when he cut off two more cars making for the freeway on-ramp.

Now in all fairness I don’t know what kind of day he had, but the reality is company drivers have to deal with freeway traffic, irate customers, crowded intersections, bad weather, double parked cars, all types of unexpected obstacles and commuters who drive distracted and treat trucks with no respect.  Folks, I’m here to tell you trucks can’t stop or maneuver like a car.  With that said the driver also has to deal with the reality of perception by those who can observe their actions.  Yes, it is no doubt a tough job but like any other  job you have to keep your wits about you and do the job properly and professionally.

There are ways to help alleviate the daily stress on delivery drivers.  They are already the first line of customer service.  Other than the sales rep the only other face the customer knows is the delivery driver so they’re the ones who hear customer complaints first, especially if it’s the wrong item or a no ship.  So naturally stocking pick locations with correct items and picking orders correctly would be one big help.  How about looking at the stop times on delivery routes.  Are they truly realistic?  It’s very easy to look at things on a map and come up with delivery goals from behind a desk as to actually doing the job.  That’s why I highly recommend that you travel with your drivers at least once a year on their routes as see it from their prospective.  I would also suggest to the drivers that if something drastic was to change on their routes to ask the boss to go on a ride along.  It’s a great excuse for the boss to get out to clear the head and buy your driver lunch.

To further ensure you drivers succeed there are situations you should try to avoid putting them into.   All policies and procedures on returns, C.O.D.s and deliveries should be covered with your customers and then followed through consistently on the company end.  Drivers shouldn’t have to deal with a customer telling them Mr. Sonso said it was o.k. to return when the driver knows that’s not the procedure.  And then in turn don’t beat up the driver when he does take it to make the customer happy because the approval has taken over several weeks on the company end and no one has contacted the customer.  Be consistent.

Other aspects affecting your moving ads, drivers should be aware of their appearance.  Should always dress neat and clean and your company should have a written policy on appropriate dress and be sure to cover all four seasons.  If your company supplies uniforms make sure they’re comfortable and can stand up to the rigors of the job.  I suggest drivers wear an ID badge with their picture especially in this security conscience era.  The delivery vehicle should be washed on a regular basis, free of damage on the outside and properly maintained.  It’s appearance is a reflection on your company and you don’t want to lose time with vehicle breakdowns.  I would also have a policy of NO bumper stickers of any kind.  If you happen to deliver food products or other perishables make sure to regularly clean the inside to keep it free of odors and use those curtains to keep frozen and cooler items separated.  Make sure drivers have the proper equipment to make their deliveries quickly and safely and emergency equipment to safely deal with breakdowns.

Lastly,  as I’ve stated, drivers are you first line of customer service so you want them to deal with customers in a pleasant and helpful means, but that means not wearing out your welcome by staying to long.  You always need to conduct yourself in a professional manner because you’re the commercial, good or bad.

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