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There's More to Delivery Than Handing Off Aftermarket Automotive Parts


8/10/2009
By Mark Phillips

During these tough economic times, it’s never been more important to set your business apart from the rest. The fact is, how your customers view your drivers is how they actually view your business. Those attributes about your drivers that you see every day and ignore may not be viewed the same way by your customers.
 
Mark Phillips
I recently talked to the manager of a jobber store in the south who has five delivery vehicles at his disposal. His drivers are constantly on the street, he said, and are running “hot,” making deliveries all day. His town of 30,000 people, with other competent jobber stores in town, is a fairly competitive market.

The fact that his drivers are always in motion would seem to be a good thing: It means he’s got plenty of business. This got to me to wondering. If all of your vehicles aren’t always moving, what’s the reason behind it? Some of it may obviously be attributed to the economy. But consider that another piece could be the person delivering your parts. A delivery position, typically given to entry-level personnel, is much more important than most people would like to believe. There is more to the job than just picking up cores and returns, dropping off parts and gathering signatures on invoices.

During these tough economic times, it’s never been more important to set your business apart from the rest. The fact is, how your customers view your drivers is how they actually view your business. Those attributes about your drivers that you see every day and ignore may not be viewed the same way by your customers.

Much of it comes down to your driver’s appearance. Is his or her hair combed? I know. This sounds silly and remedial, but if your driver appears disheveled, people will think the same of your business, at least subconsciously. Consider a restaurant. If you walk into a seemingly nice one and see a greasy-haired waiter with splotches of food on his clothes, you might think twice of eating there.

The same rationale goes for your drivers. If he or she looks bad, it reflects badly on you. There are a few rules that are musts. The first is no torn clothes. Long hair for men should be swept back into a ponytail. Nose ring? You decide on that one. Facial hair for guys? O.k., if it is well-kept and trimmed. Open-toed shoes? Forget it. No one wants to see hairy toes. Chest hair? Unless he’s Austin Powers, the shirt should be buttoned up high enough to hide it. In short, his or her appearance should be crisp, professional and unalarming.

Then there’s the issue of delivery times. Are delivery times being promised and met? One poorly timed delivery can be a black mark. We’re living in the days of instant gratification and lagging delivery times could knock your operation down from the top of the call list. Make sure to measure and track delivery times and make follow-up phone calls to customers to see how you’re doing.

They’ll probably be surprised to get that kind of call in the first place. Though a huge number of jobs in the United States are service-related, many businesses do a poor job of delivering good customer service. Also, look at your vehicles. How do they look? Would you want to be seen driving around in one? It’s not that you have to go buy a new one; a good washing can do wonders.

Try taking a look at your drivers and vehicles the way your customers might. If you see something you don’t like, your customers probably don’t like it much either.
  Previous Comments
avatar   john   star   2/2/2010   1:51 PM

I think that our older drivers we have here at the big green are oustanding and we have a few of both young and old and i see some of the younger generation looking up to the older ones and start to follow in there steps as being thatproffesional we dont need to look at it as old and young but as either way our drivers are our front lines they are the firt thing the customer sees when he or she gets there parts they above all have the hardest job they have to be delivery specialists on top of being sales people the better there reaction to the customer the more buissness we gain i applaud our delivery drivers



avatar   Jeremy Spurlin   star   1/24/2010   11:42 AM

I have to agree with MR. Dave. Having worked with the same group of men that he is speaking of, they have showed more willingness to get the job done then about 98% of the younger drivers I have seen. They do what you ask without the nagging "but why" attitude alot of younger people have. My thought on the matter is it is not the age of the person but the personality. And to those that think I'm just bad mouthing younger people i'm just 29 myself



avatar   Dave Elliott   star   1/20/2010   3:23 PM

OK there Jorge, There is so much high tech stuff you need to know to be a delivery person. Probably the most high tech thing our drivers use is the Wright Express fleet fuel card. My older gentlemen show up to work, don't need off for this and that, oh and by the way, when you come to work here....you must be 18 to drive and some dm's say 21 due to insurance reasons. I'd just as soon not have to teach someone that old values and work ethic. They already have those instilled in them from (gasp) their parents or their educators. If someone comes in here without a good work ethic, he's got about 21 days to improve it, or he no longer works here. Values? Not my job to teach them. I should talk to them enough before hiring them to guage their values.



avatar   bikermechanic   star   1/9/2010   11:24 AM

Heres one for you. Some what off the topic above. I'm one of the many mechanics in a very busy shop 24/7. We have two parts clerks that work on the day shift and i start working on the first swing shift of the day and these two parts clerks are the older bunch of the crew and all we get from them is crap. They want nothing to do with us to help us and we cant joke with them at all. Nothing but old grumps. So till the five'oclock parts clerk gets there we now stay out of the way and no parts gets put on any thing for almost two hours. Lucky for us we are paid hourly. I may see like we let them win, but in return for waiting for the next clerk we can for sure get the right parts too. The grumpy old two men gives us the wrong parts half the time cause they don't understand anything.



avatar   Jorge Sanchez`   star   1/6/2010   1:00 PM

OLDER DRIVERS ARE LIKE OLD MECHANICS, YEAS THEYRE AWESOME WHEN IT COMES TO FIXING OLD CARBURATOR CARS BUT NOW DAYS EVERYTHING IS HI TECH AND THEY SHOULD HONESTLY MOVE OUT OF THE WAY FOR YOUNGER STRONGER WILLING TO WORK PEOPLE, WHO NEED TO BE THOUGHT GOOD WORK ETHIC AND VALUES.



avatar   Dan   star   10/20/2009   6:27 PM

Mr. Gone, the 3 older gentlemen that we currently have delivering are excellent employees. We have had several others in the the past that were very good. On the other hand, 2 out of the 3 younger drivers we have are not so great. Even so, it still comes down to who you hire, more than their age.



avatar   THE SHADOW   star   10/7/2009   3:06 PM

why does so many have to hide behind false names? Krusty the Clown , Bill Clinton , Michael Jackson , ect. Good lord who's next. What he heck are u guys hiding from? Geeze!



avatar   Dave Elliott   star   10/7/2009   9:40 AM

Mr Gone, I'm sorry that you've not had good luck with your older drivers. Here in Kentucky our older guys have the work ethic it takes. I have one that's 82 years old and works circles around the younger drivers I've had. Not only that but he keeps us rolling in the aisles with his wit and wisdom. These guys don't have to be told every day that if you don't have an order to take to grab some of the stock and put it up. Put it in the wrong place? yeah they did that for a little while, then I taught them that if they couldn't find where it went in a short time, just to put it back in the buggy and someone else would take care of it. They want to do a good job but you are correct in saying (paraphrasing here) there is no sense of urgency in some of them. But in their defense, they have learned over their years that no one ever laid on his death bed and said, "I wish I'd have spent more time at work." now did they



avatar   Mr Gone   star   9/28/2009   5:14 PM

Dan, the older generation may be more mature but I will say this: the older guys that we hire to deliver tend to take things lightly. I don't know if it's their age that makes them this way but they take all day to do anything (that is if they hit a lick at all). I've caught them sleeping, putting things in the wrong places and otherwise being a distraction to the other employees. Work is a place to WORK! I'd hate to think that me not getting a raise this year is all because we hired someone who can't cut it and doesn't care why.



avatar   tony   star   9/10/2009   10:03 PM

A store manager I had once hired all hooter's waitresses to be his delivery drivers part time. It worked like a charm to be honest.



avatar   GoJO   star   9/2/2009   8:54 PM

Really, long hair on males. Are we still in the 70s?? I don't think that pissed off greasy hair mechanic ready to get the part delivered is too worried about your long hair, so long as its clean and well-maintained.



avatar   G to the O   star   9/2/2009   1:13 PM

is that all you people do on here is whine and complain?? maybe if you were more focused on selling parts instead of whining we can get the ball rolling!!!! that's just my .02 cents



avatar   eric   star   9/1/2009   6:27 PM

Its not just the younger generation either unless you consider mid to late thirties the younger generation. I'm a delivery driver and my imediate boss, who is in charge of the commercial side of our store, has an attitude problem that has affected the business of our store. Since I am low man on the pole I can't do much so I just do the best job that I can and hope it portrays the positive aspects of our store. I myself am only 41 and know very little about this particular industry but I am learning. If we keep a positive attitude about ourselves it usually catches on with others. Chin up everyone and pass on a smile.



avatar   steve   star   9/1/2009   4:01 PM

The more mature, regardless of age, make the best employees. Billy is so right, takr the time to hire the right person for the job will solve all the other problems we face. We oftem blame the person for a bad job, when it is more often we have hired a warm body during a time of crisis.



avatar   BILI   star   9/1/2009   3:14 PM

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR...



avatar   Jerry   star   8/31/2009   3:30 PM

Dan evidently you have no sense of humor. The Bill Clinton person was just making a light hearted joke while everyone else was attacking ages and parenting issues. We arent robots, every person is like a snowflake, different! Quit worrying how others are doing their jobs and just do yours to the best of your ability and let the people that are paid to "manage" them do that. Thats whats wrong now, every one worried about what others are getting away with or not doing right. Sorry if i offend anyone but just had to vent, and Mr. Bill Clinton, hahaha cause I got the mood you were trying to change.



avatar   DAN   star   8/27/2009   5:02 PM

AT 53, I UNDERSTAND BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN: TRUE THAT THE YOUNGER GENERATION AS A WHOLE TEND TO BE LESS DISCIPLINED (WHICH IS THEM ROOT OF THE PROBLEM), BUT YOU CAN FIND AT LEAST SOME"UNDISCIPLINED" PEOPLE IN EVERY GENERATION. THE REAL BILL CLINTON AND THE PERSON WHO CLAIMED TO BE HIM IN THEIR NOT SO FUNNY RESPONSE, ARE 2 GOOD EXAMPLES. KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS, BILL!



avatar   Bill Clinton   star   8/25/2009   12:37 PM

I think all the drivers should be hot female interns in cut-offs and bikini tops!!!



avatar   Will   star   8/21/2009   11:11 AM

I agree also on the older driver theory. We have 3 at our store and I love 'em all to death. One of them is 70 or so and has various degrees in engineering. He works so he won't be bored. They don't cry about pay unless a clerical error has occurred. The younger people expect to get $9.00 or more to drive around. The older guys come in ready to go and get along with our customers and present a great image of our company. The younger people we've had have all had issues with coming in on time, pay, proper uniform, etc....



avatar   shalane   star   8/20/2009   4:00 PM

Being part of the younger generation is harder because most older people that work in auto parts have more knowledge. When I started out in the automotive business I started out as a driver and in no way am i ashamed of that, I'm now 24 years old and i have been a driver, merchandiser, installer, and a manager. Not all of the younger generation have bad/poor work ethics. Some of us actually worked to where we have gotten and have great work ethics.



avatar   Billy   star   8/19/2009   5:32 PM

I agree good drivers are hard to find, but in our line of work we are provided the tools to hire good people. You have to take the time to hire good and not just fill a open spot on the schedule. I have a older driver and a younger driver and they both do there job very well, but just like everybody they have there down falls. My best advice is take the time to hire the right person for the right job.



avatar   TROY   star   8/18/2009   5:06 PM

Sorry Ed I offended you. I should have specified not all of todays younger generation but maybe the majority because I too am considered the younger generation. But in my experience its a problem with the younger generation with things as simple as just coming to work. It all goes back to what Dave said in his reply below it is a issue with the parenting thats where the blame is. It really feels like DRAMA follows the younger ones. Sorry again to have offended you. My comment was made to pat these older guys on the back and tell the younger ones that "WE" can learn alot from them.



avatar   dave oreilly 1835   star   8/17/2009   4:47 PM

I agree with Ed, the vast majority of people's thinking on the subject is if my manager doesn't care why should I. I've scene people termed, and come back to tell me that the only thing that upset them was that they had let me down after trying to build them into better people. It's not the younger, or older generations, it's people that don't want to take the time to teach someone the ropes, build them up, show them how to sell, educate them. When you believe in people AND SHOW IT, it gives them something to believe in, something to look forward to every day, and a reason to do a good job.



avatar   Ed   star   8/17/2009   4:28 PM

Being of the younger generation, I resent the stigmata placed on my generation. Since I started in this industry 9 years ago, I have come to realize its not the younger generation that is all at fault, but rather the older generation that we call our managers letting us "act like kids" and once you have established that as your norm managing style, there is no changing our perception of it. One store I took over, the DM told me this 18-year old was a goof off and not to expect much out of him. I took him under my wing, shared my inspirational story, personally over saw his training and within a few months he became my second assistant manager.



avatar   Troy   star   8/14/2009   2:59 PM

I really enjoy having the older gentlemen as our delivery specialists. Todays younger generation just don't have the work ethics that these older fellers have. We have 4 retired guys that deliver for us and what we get from these underpaid workhorses its alot more than what we get from the overpaid "What can you do for me?" young men and women. The older guys we have here are happy to get the opportunity to be able to work again. They never call in , they never complain and they don't expect alot of money to get them to work. Aside from all of this they are just a pleasure to be around.



avatar   ROBIN   star   8/13/2009   1:50 PM

I AM A 53 YEAR OLD WOMAN AND I AM RETIRED FROM THE MILITARY. AFTER 10 YEARS OF RETIREMENT I DECIDED TO GO BACK TO WORK. I STARTED OUT AS A DRIVER AND BECAME THE MERCHANDISER. I HAVE BEEN HERE NOW FOR 5 YEARS AND I HAVE SEEN YOUNGER DRIVERS COME AND GO. THEY WOULDN'T SHOW UP FOR WORK, THEY WOULD MAKE UP EXCUSES WHY THEY COULDN'T COME IN , OR ONE GUY NEEDED A RIDE TO WORK EVERY DAY BECAUSE HIS CAR WAS BROKE DOWN. THE LAST GIRL JUST DIDN'T SHOW UP AND NEVER CALLED TO GIVE A REASON WHY. WE HAVEN'T SEEN HER SINCE. I STILL DRIVE AND I REALLY LIKE THE PEOPLE I DELIVER TO, BUT I DO GET TIRED OF COVERING FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT LIKE TO DO THEIR JOB.



avatar   chris   star   8/13/2009   1:28 PM

i know i started off as a driver and have worked my way up the chain to now being a installer sales specialist at the oreillys here in my town. also all those years of driving i developed relationships with shop employes and owners and now they all do business with me all because i did my job that i was told to and now it has really paid off. i not only made customers but friends also



avatar   Dave Elliott   star   8/13/2009   9:20 AM

Exactly Jody. The driver is the parts pro's last contact with the customer and leaves the impression that is remembered. The work ethic of many of the ones the kids today is not where it needs to be. I blame the parents for the most part. Both my children work they're 22 and 24. they show up on time and ready to give their employer a fair days work for a fair days wage. They don't "call in" on a regular basis. That sadly is not the case with the younger ones joining the work force today. Although here in our store we have been very fortunate lately to have hired a couple of young men with a lot of potential. One of them has better people skills than the other, the other has a working knowledge of an automobile, and both come to work ready to learn



avatar   Jody Ard   star   8/12/2009   9:49 AM

How true....It's becoming harder and harder to find good drivers. People who take pride in the way they look and present themselves. I find in this business its a good starting point....to learn the ropes. We've got lots of guys who have gone from driver to management and beyond. To find those types of workers has become almost impossible. Our best drivers have become older retired people, who would rather work than stay home. Let's face it, good drivers make us all look better...















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