By Rich Lindblom, YSN
Earlier this week I shared a column about the importance of making a good first impression.
But now I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about the equally important last impression. And that means your delivery personnel.
As crucial as first impressions are, so too are last impressions. If you screw something up, damage an item or simply leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth during the delivery process, you run the risk of losing a customer. Forever.
Your delivery team is often the final touchpoint with a customer, which means they are probably the last thing the customer will remember as well. And that is where so many companies get it wrong. I know dealers out there who view their delivery personnel as nothing more than an afterthought, like interchangeable cogs in a machine.
They simply could not be more wrong.
At my company, our clientele leaned toward the older side of the spectrum, so when it came to hiring delivery personnel, I used what I called the “Grandmother Rule”: If I wouldn’t want that person delivering something to my grandmother, then they didn’t get the job. The way I saw it, if my grandmother wouldn’t feel comfortable having that person in her home, then neither would most of my customers.
As with all your employees, your delivery personnel should be polite, professional, well-spoken and exhibit good personal hygiene. Call me old-fashioned, but if someone wanted to deliver for my company, they weren’t allowed to wear piercings anywhere other than in their ears — and no visible tattoos either.
Likewise, my delivery personnel always wore company uniforms, including pants, shirts and, depending on the weather, jackets. A belt was mandatory too, because no customer wants to see a plumber’s butt. If they wanted to wear a hat, that was fine, but it had to be a company hat, not their favorite sports team. (Personally, I’m not a fan of shorts or T-shirts; I just don’t think they look very professional. Maybe in hotter climates you have to make an exception, but not in Chicago.)
The way I always looked at it, you can’t be professional if you don’t look professional.
There was one other thing I did whenever I hired someone for a delivery position, be it a lead installer or helper: I tried to impress upon them just how critical their job was to my company’s success. Early in the interview process I would walk them around the store and take the time to explain how the entire sales process works:
- Run compelling advertising to draw the customer in.
- Have a beautiful store to make that great first impression.
- Deliver an informative sales pitch by a sales professional.
- Find the perfect product for the customer’s needs.
- Offer it at a competitive price and make the sale.
And then I would stress that even if we did everything perfectly in the first five steps of the process, it wouldn’t mean a thing if we dropped the ball on the sixth and final step — the delivery and installation of a new purchase.
Your delivery personnel need to understand just how important they are to your company’s success. If you’re not emphasizing that, you really need to start.
We all know the adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” and that is very true. But it works in reverse as well, because if you screw up the delivery, the odds are you blew your last chance to make a good impression on that customer.
So, hire your delivery personnel wisely and train them well. Because a bad delivery can cost you dearly, not only in damage claims but in lost customers too.
It’s always gratifying when someone reaches out after reading one of my articles because it struck a particular chord. So if you have a question or comment (good or bad) about something I wrote about, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.