Crews need to know their responsibilities and job limits.
In a previous column I described special kind of "manual dexterity that eliminates confusion, boosts efficiency and builds customer good will-knowing what the delivery operations manual says it's okay and it's not okay to do.
From my experience, crews with this kind of manual dexterity always do their jobs better-because they know precisely what their job responsibilities and limits are.
Several store executives asked for specifics of what should go into a delivery operations manual and what form it should take.
The best manual is one your men accept, understand and follow. A simple manual-a few pages stapled together, perhaps-beats a slick one if it's clear and direct.
Your manual should cover any thing and everything that can crop up from the time the sale is made to the time it's closed with a smooth delivery.
It should spell out delivery arrangements-who, for instance, -fakes them, what promises can and can't be made, charges, custom deliveries, special services, and the like.
How merchandise should be handled in the warehouse belongs in your manual. So does delivery prep, pre-loading and pre-delivery inspections and truck load-up.
A good manual makes damage report procedures crystal clear and covers contingencies such as deliveries to homes with pets, "not home" and "don't fit" situations, how paperwork should be processed and how to collect on COD's.
Truck maintenance, breakdown reports, and accident reporting procedures definitely belong in the manual. And, never assume your men know better when it comes to basics like no smoking during deliveries, no drinking on the job, no personal comments to customers, neat uniforms at all times, and careful, courteous driving. Avoid headaches -spell it all out.
An excellent starting point for developing a manual is a weekly delivery operations round robin. This gives everyone-warehouse and delivery crews, store management, sales and customer services people-a chance to share experiences and ideas.
No two manuals can ever be identical, of course, because no two situations are. But what the best manuals have in common are comprehensiveness, clarity and directness. The objective, remember, isn't a Pulitzer Prize in manual writing. It's to encourage more manual dexterity and help you deliver the goods more efficiently.