Delivery Personnel, Your Front Line of Defense

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Don on 18-01-2008

I was out for lunch the other day and noticed a Staples delivery guy stopping to make his delivery.  He got out of his truck with his cigarette hanging out of his mouth and talking on his cell phone.  He wondered around the truck and opened the rear door and disappeared for a few minutes.  Shortly afterwards I saw his cigarette butt flicked out the back and he emerged with his hand-truck and a couple of boxes of supplies.  His facial expression and body language told me that he would rather be anywhere but where he was that day as he slammed the gate on his truck.  He rushed into the business and quickly returned to his truck where he resumed his cell phone conversation again and sat in his truck for another fifteen minutes before pulling away.  I have a pretty good idea what his attitude was when he entered the customers office.

Our big box competitors have hundreds of delivery personnel and those people typically don’t stay in those positions for a long time so it is difficult for them to develop relationships with the customers and for most I expect their job is temporary until they find something else.

However, most independent dealers have smaller numbers of delivery people and with a more family oriented workplace they stay much longer.  These delivery guys (or gals) are a critical element in your strategy to gain new business and in your existing account penetration efforts.  You should take the time necessary to train your delivery staff on more than just company safety policy.  Today’s business environment requires more than just be friendly and courteous in the customers office.  I trained my drivers to always keep their eyes and ears open.  They are to be attentive to the customers needs and when making their delivery to listen, and look for signs that the customer needs attention.  These signs would be things such a a new printer or fax machine that needs supplies (hopefully you know this because you sold the equipment), perhaps someone is discussing a need for a new file cabinet or desk.  Perhaps they overhear plans to expand or move into a larger space.  Maybe a competitor is, or has been, there trying to get the business and left a catalog or portfolio.  Maybe the customer isn’t buying all of their supplies from you and the competitions has just made a delivery.  Don’t you want to know who that is?  Maybe the guy in the back that signs for deliveries tells your driver that they just got a big contract and will be expanding their warehouse to handle the new business or there is a supply issue with someone in the office that is making a real “stink” about their dissatisfaction.  All this leads to opportunities for you and your business!  This information needs to be immediately communicated to the sales rep and/or sales manager for follow-up.  Your driver is part delivery man, part customer service rep, part sales rep, and part secret agent.  A good observant driver can be a driving force in your efforts to meet the needs and wants of your customers and many times will see the same customers far more often than your rep does.  Use that to your advantage!

Also, have a policy where your sales reps ride one day each month with the drivers.  This simple act affords them an opportunity to see what the driver see’s every day.  The rep isn’t so pushed to be on appointments and can observe new or existing businesses they may have otherwise ignored that are in the same area.  A good rep should have already saturated the area before moving on but we know that isn’t always the case.  Therefore take the time to train your delivery personnel to be observant and watchful and to keep you well informed.  These people are out in “the trenches” every day and can be (should be) a critical element in your strategies to grow your business and another weapon in your arsenal to combat the competition.

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