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Hiring A Great Warehouse Manager

Furniture World Magazine
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Article Summary: Furniture retailers are used to hiring sales and office staff. Most are not nearly as strong on the warehouse and delivery side of the business. As a result, they often do not hire the best people for these critical jobs. Here are tips and techniques for hiring the best warehouse manager.

View all articles by Dan Bolger


During Kurlancheek Furniture's busiest season, the warehouse manager of 20 years called in sick for five days straight saying his job was too stressful...

Furniture retailers are used to hiring salespeople and office staff. Most are not nearly as strong on the warehouse and delivery side of the business. As a result, they often do not hire the best people for these critical jobs. The focus of this article is to relate the experiences of Ronnie Kurlancheek of Jacob Kurlancheek Furniture who recently replaced her warehouse manager.

Jacob Kurlancheek Furniture is a 98 year old family owned business in Eastern Pennsylvania, presently managed by Jacob's granddaughter, Ronnie Kurlancheek. Twenty years ago it was a single store with $1.5 million annual sales and by early 1996 it had grown to three locations and more than $12 million annual sales. Ronnie was comfortable with her marketing, merchandising and advertising responsibilities, but recognized that warehouse and delivery improvements could boost customer satisfaction, build repeat sales and ultimately increase profits. While in High Point last year, she attended NHFA's seminars relating to operations which confirmed that her current warehousing and delivery practices could be significantly improved.

In early October 1996, at the beginning of Kurlancheek Furniture's busiest season, the warehouse manager of twenty years called in sick for five days straight. He explained that his job was so stressful that he could no longer continue. Compared to his early years at Kurlancheek, he was expected to handle much higher volume. The job functions were also more complex and customer expectations had risen. After his resignation, a meeting was held to discuss all options. She decided to step in as warehouse manager until a qualified replacement could be hired.

There are about ten key items in every job that, if done well, will result in success for the individual and the company. If you don't have a clear idea of what you want your warehouse manager to do, you won't have an appropriate set of measurements with which to evaluate the candidates. So our first step was for Ronnie to write her own "Top 10" list for the warehouse manager. The employment ad was developed from that list.

Space doesn't permit sharing the structured method Ronnie used to review the resumes she received but the focus was to:

  • Initially screen for candidates that had excellent warehouse and people skills.
  • Probe for weaknesses that might disqualify the person or require additional training if selected.
  • Look for signs of motivation, stability, resourcefulness and ability to work under direction or with others.

She interviewed the most promising candidates and narrowed the list to three candidates. The three candidates were discussed and the list narrowed to two names that I interviewed again over the phone. The interview outline guide (see inset) is intended as a starting point for more focused questions. For example, if the candidate said he cut inventory errors 50%, my next question might be. "That's interesting, how did you do it?" Far too often, the interviewer is doing 80% of the talking. The interviewer should be doing 80% of the listening!

After reviewing interview notes for the finalists, salary considerations were discussed along with a tentative work plan for the first month and training considerations. She extended an offer to the best, and the candidate who joined Jacob Kurlancheek Furniture two weeks before inventory in mid January. The new warehouse manager is off to a good start, applying the skills from previous employment in a new environment.

Ronnie Kurlancheek teasingly suggests that the physical work during her temporary stint in the warehouse was somewhat like going to a budget spa and she is much more fit as a result. Now she is focusing the company's efforts on sales growth to utilize the newly enhanced warehouse and delivery capabilities.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  • Tell me about your role at (current employer).
  • Do you have an opportunity to grow with the company?
  • Who specified the standards you work with?
  • What do you like best about working there?
  • How has having a college degree benefited you? (If appropriate).
  • Have you learned the management skills needed in the job? (If not a college graduate).
  • Who do you report to?
  • Tell me about your previous experience.
  • What amount of money do you expect to make in the next year? How is that split between salary and bonus? Benefits?
  • If you got a call from a customer that your delivery driver was high on drugs, what would you do?
  • What are you willing to do to learn the differences between your present employment and the requirements of a furniture retailer?
  • Is there anything else you want to tell me about your capabilities and this potential position?

WAREHOUSE MANAGER WANTED
Warehouse Manager needed with leadership, team-building, good communications and motivational skills. Commitment to quality throughout receiving, warehousing, delivery and service is of critical importance. Furniture or similar experience desirable, at least three years supervisory experience mandatory. We offer a competitive salary and benefits. Please send resume and salary history to Jacob Kurlancheek Furniture... Equal Opportunity Employer.

RONNIE KURLANCHEEK'S WAREHOUSE MANAGER TOP TEN LIST

1. Must be able to think on feet and think through a crisis situation to resolution.

2.Must be experienced in managing a large volume warehouse.

3.Must be willing to do anything, (i.e. working overtime), to get the job done.

4.Must have positive/optimistic attitude that anything can be done and things can always be done better.

5.Must be able to coordinate team spirit.

6.Must be efficient, systematic and be able to prioritize to increase work productivity.

7.Must be computer literate.

8.Must have the ability to coordinate routing of the delivery area.

9.Must have ability to organize and coordinate service department, to improve customer response.

10.Must be aware of customer service problems and follow through with drivers to avoid future problems.\

PHONE REFERENCES: Record the candidate's name and person interviewed.

  • How do you know the candidate?
  • How would you rate his/her skills in supervising people?
  • How does he/she get along with other management people?
  • Do you recall any examples where he/she has shown creativity?
  • How would you rate his/her ethics?
  • If you had an appropriate position to offer him/her, would you hire him/her?
  • Overall rating of him/her in business.
  • Would like to add anything about him/her?


Daniel Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. Questions can be directed to Mr. Bolger care of FURNITURE WORLD at dbolger@furninfo.com.

 


Contributing editor Dan Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. See many other articles by Dan in the Operations Management article archives on the furninfo.com website. You can send inquiries on any aspect of transportation, warehousing or logistics issues to Dan Bolger care of Furniture World Magazine at dbolger@furninfo.com  or call him direct at  740-503-8875.

View all articles by Dan Bolger

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