Welcome back to Warehouse and Operations as a Career, we had a question from a young man interested in becoming a driver but he wasn’t excited about working his way up through the warehouse. He’d spoken with a friend that was a Driver Helper with a Foodservice Distribution Center, thought he’d like that work and was wondering could that be a pathway to becoming a successful delivery driver. My answer would be Absolutely! Marty here with WAOC and today we’ll explore a couple of different scenarios or starting points I’ve heard about that was great jobs to break into the transportation or delivery field.
A Driver Helper position is pretty much just what it states. This person helps the driver with everything from loading the trailer, organizing the freight by stop, wheeling or dollying the product off the truck, into the stop, shelving the product at the customers to handling the invoices and accounting for any returns. The job varies by company, some organizations I know of may limit what all a Driver Helper can do but most the facilities I’m familiar with it’s the driver that directs the helper. I think the Driver Helper position is a great way to explore ones thoughts about being a delivery driver. As we spoke of in episode 22, the important thing is learning the product, which can be accomplished by handling it, handlining it in the warehouse or actually unloading it at the customer’s location right?
Driver Helper is typically called or listed as a general labor position, and it’s a good job and one of the tasks I feel is an important job. But if I’m interested in driving it can also be a fantastic springboard to that Driving Career bringing with it a host of opportunities. As we’ve mentioned it will afford us a hands-on view of the Drivers job, learn something about customer service at the Account or Customer level, and this is an advantage over working in the warehouse approach something we can’t really get working from inside the warehouse. We’ll learn our Companies product line, the importance of the delivery & how to handle situations as they come up in the field.
To succeed in this position it’s important to follow the directions of our Driver, stay ahead of the stops regarding separating out the next stops product, stacking down the load to avoid damages and making it easy and efficient to check off the invoices, wheel the freight into the account and get back on the road as quickly and safely as possible. This is hard work, yep, there’s a lot of sitting and being still in between stops but when the trucks not moving we are, the works hard, we’re finger printing every case meaning picking up and moving every box, several times before getting it delivered, stored and signed for. Remember delivering it is only part of the job, the driver is responsible for the invoice and its payment as well!
There’s actually a rhythm and process that develops with a good helper and the driver, once a good, hard working helper is trained by a driver that driver will want to work with us all the time, I’ve seen drivers hold up their routes before to get their usual helper. And that’s the relationship we want right? We want them to share how hard of a worker and how knowledgeable we are with the management team! Again I want to mention how important it is to be on-time each and every shift we’re assigned too, particularly in this type of position as others are relying on us to start their task as well. Remember it’s important to BE the employee ready and able to get the job done right?
Another great thing about this position is training is not a long and drawn out procedure either, we’ll need to learn how to read the individual labels or invoices, depending what identifiers we’ll be using to find the next stops product, how to stack the items where the driver can just scoop up the stack with his/her two wheeler, maybe how to set up and attach a ramp on the trailer so the loaded two wheeler can be ran to ground level and how to unload, shelve or rotate product as instructed by the driver. Some driver helpers are trained on the electric pallet jack to facilitate the loading or unloading of pallets and its operation as well. Yes, I know we mention it all the time but that means running through a 29CFR1910.178 class, remember, no matter what position we have NEVER get on a piece of equipment that we have not been trained on! Speaking of equipment, we’ll be using a two wheeler or delivery dolly, an amazing piece of equipment, in the hands of a professional its efficient and very maneuverable – in the hands of someone with no training its dangerous to ourselves and others, as well as to the product, door jams and walls! Learn to use it, take it slow, don’t load it up with weight and expect to be able to handle it right off the bat. I know helpers that buy their own two wheelers too, you’ll want a good one, like any kind of equipment or tool, I feel you’ll get what you pay for. I’ve known Drivers that carry 5 or 6 with them daily. I won’t mention any brand names, there’s several good manufactures and several different models. A good, strong and light weight breakdown dolly is probably the most versatile, there’s even models with brakes on them, these more expensive units can really come in handy.
As we’ve discussed the Driver Helper position will expose you to the Drivers world. True, he or she has all the responsibility of the load, the accounts and the equipment but you’ll experience that, you’ll learn about some of the frustrations or the joys of traffic depending on how you look at it, quite a bit about Customer Service and how to handle different situations as they arise. And most importantly, or at least what I think is useful, you’ll get a sense of the responsibility and patience needed to be a great driver.
If you’re just getting started in operations & have thought of driving before this is the perfect break through position for you, and there’s several avenues or directions you can take after just a few short years of doing it. You’ll become very comfortable in the fleet department, fueling islands and procedures, maintenance areas, possibly even routing and load mapping, sizing and cubing out a truck. After we prove ourselves and our wiliness to work hard and our dependability and share our goals of driving the company may work with us and help us get some experience by moving some trailers around, spotting trailers or working with the yard mules or haustlers. Last week we spoke about the rewards awaiting in the Supply Chain Management & Logistics worlds. Once again, it’s all out there, all we have to do is want it and reach for it right!
We’ll be talking more about transportation & this position as we break out into the different industries, it is a good doorway into a long lasting career!
I hope we answered a few of your questions today regarding this position and how to use it to your advantage or as a stepping stone to that Delivery position. Thanks for listening in today, pass on our WAOC information to a friend, lets learn from as many as we can! Share your thoughts and comments to the web page warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and participate on our Twitter & Facebook feeds @WhseandOps. Have a great week, be productive and most importantly Put Safety First!