An ideal route service rep, or RSR, is satisfied, motivated and determined. In the rush to fill an open position we often lose sight of an optimum RSR hire.
Final candidates should go through three interviews. The process should begin with a phone interview, if that goes well the next step is a meeting with a junior staff member, an example could be meeting with a direct reporting manager. Candidates then can be recommended for a route ride that culminates in a final interview with a hiring manger. All interviews in this process should follow certified interview guides. This article will outline how to source and hire the best prospective RSR employees.
Recruiting The Best
It is optimal when you have the opportunity to reward an employee who is ready for advancement but it is not always appropriate to promote internally. We as an industry often fill needs by not preparing for an opening and dumping someone who appears capable into the positions. Don’t assume a good route rep will make a good manager. Don’t assume a good route jumper will make a good route rep. It is important to match skill sets to position. We recommend posting every job opening and treating an internal candidate no different than an external candidate.
When trying to target a potential employee who is currently employed elsewhere, target delivery industries such as bread, snack foods, tools, beer, water and soda. Do to their entrepreneurial spirit these type of route delivery people tend to make good route sales staff. Pest control and document management people also do as well.
In order to incentivize an external candidate, you should offer that employee a more attractive package. Many employees aren’t happy in their job, but due to the economy are not going to look to leave their job. An employed external candidate is the best employee to have since they are already being valued by a company and have demonstrated pertinent skills for success. The last thing a happily employed person has time to do is look for a job. It is important to pursue them and present the best package possible for these candidates.
The Five Parts of the Final Interview Process –
Part One- Route Ride
It is important to extend the opportunity of an actual route ride to all prospective employees. Just be sure to observe all insurance and local law requirements. When possible and coordinated properly a route ride will be an integral part of the interview process.
A route ride is a good way to ensure applicants are capable and possess the desire to make themselves a successful addition to your team. The route ride is a good time for a qualified applicant to observe a qualified route rep in action on an actual route. The best existing route rep’s for this role follows company policy and procedure, have the company’s best interest at heart and is prepared prior to the ride to make specific observations while getting to know the candidate in an informal environment. This route rep should take a vested interest in the candidate because in the future the prospective hire’s training should be the current route rep’s responsibility. In preparation for this future training responsibility it is a good idea to ask the RSR to prepare a written list of 10 observations made during the route ride. This list should include job related areas of opportunity as well as assets that the candidate possesses.
Part Two – Discussion
After the route ride it is important to continue the discussion with both the prospective RSR and the current RSR who hosted the ride. Begin by asking the candidate about their experience- what challenges did they notice for themselves on the ride and what opportunities they were able to observe. During the next portion of the interview, ask your current employee to review their list of route ride observations- both the positive and negative. This will be uncomfortable for the candidate but is beneficial for open and honest communication- regardless of whether an offer is extended.
Sample observations might include:
- Did the prospective RSR interact with customers? If so, how?
- Did the prospective RSR take initiative on the ride? If so, how?
- What kind of questions did the prospective RSR ask? (Company or personally focused)
From these answers it will be possible to learn more about the applicant and see if they are interested in how they can help your company grow and expand or if they are simply vested in a job so they can satisfy their personal needs. The best applicants are not just concerned about themselves but understand by making the company the priority they prosper as well.
Part Three – Peer to Peer
Have a conversation with the current route rep and review their opinion of the potential success of the applicant. Their success, along with the success of the company, depends on the new hire because if a new hire does well the company will grow and prosper. Empower the current route reps to decide who they would like to have as a peer. Peer to peer hiring allows employees with the power to choose what their team looks like. Choosing the best RSR to provide the route ride is giving the role of the captain to this RSR to choose his newest teammate. Flashback, to choosing sides for kickball in elementary school- the captain should pick only the players for his side that are top choices.
It is important for peers to take ownership in the new team members because if they are invested in a team member they will foster and encourage new hires to reach their upmost success. Peer to peer hiring also takes the burden off of management to shove someone into the team. Instead, everyone plays a roll in the development and success of the employee. People are the foundation of growth for a company. Companies that tend to outpace their goals are the ones that leverage the resources in their organization to make the best decisions.
Part Four – Testing
It is appropriate to require basic tests for the hiring of a route rep. Wonderlic tests are a common brand that can tell if a candidate has the ability to complete the math required for a route rep to succeed at their position. Based on previous experiences we would recommend a score of 16 or higher- with the recommendation of a score of 18-30. Overall, RSR’s should have a competitive but entrepreneurial spirit. Other testing can be appropriate but it is not necessary to get too deeply involved in personality testing for an RSR position- especially if you are hiring someone with previous delivery service experience.
Interview Part Five – Question and Answer
Probably the most traditional part of the interview process is the question and answer portion. This should be in conjunction with the approved certified interview guide previously mentioned. In this part of the interview spend the majority of time focused on behavioral style questions. These questions do not have a right or wrong answer. A good question to ask here is: “Can you tell me about a time when the customer wasn’t right and what you did to make it right?”
The strongest candidates will recount times when they engaged the customer in conversation instead of just giving the farm away. As an interviewer, try to extract enough information through the interview process to determine the candidate’s ability to successfully engage a customer in a thoughtful and respectful negotiation.
In our industry we aren’t dealing in hamburgers. Our items are more expensive- it is a good rule of thumb to avoid any applicant with extensive retail backgrounds- these usually have the mentality that to please the customer you must satisfy them with any means possible.
There is a difference between placing an ad and interviewing random candidates versus recruiting a qualified employee that will be an asset to your business for the long-term. When hiring be sure to keep a broad perspective and consider candidates that are in-house, external applicants and those that can be recruited. Performance Matters recommends investing the time to recruit and retain proven entrepreneurs. Understand that your hiring decision is a half a million dollar annual investment, at $10,000 a week per route- it is.
Keep an eye out for Performance Matter’s upcoming e-newsletters for the rest of this series: How To Train an RSR and The End Of Day Process For an RSR.
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