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Top Ten Tips To Hire Great Furniture Delivery & Warehouse Managers

Furniture World Magazine
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Article Summary: The failure rate for new warehouse and delivery managers in retail furniture stores is high. Retailers that promote from within often run up against the Peter Principle. When an outsider is selected, his or her individual style may conflict with your corporate culture or they may have flat out lied about their experience. Here’s how to avoid these problems.

View all articles by Dan Bolger


Tips and interview techniques to help you hire the best possible person.

 

by Dan Bolger, P.E. (additional tips from Pete Tomeck)

 

Hiring warehouse and delivery managers can be  challenging for furniture retailers who don’t often see rapid turnover in these important positions. In addition, most retailer owners’ personal experience is greater on the sales and product side of the business. This generally makes for less comfort when store owners question operations people about the details of their knowledge and experience.

 

The failure rate for warehouse and delivery managers in retail furniture store operations in the first few months of a new job is high.  Retailers often promote a great employee driver or a trusted supervisor to a top position, but in many cases the Peter Principle becomes almost immediately evident. Problems develop in multiple areas that result in poor customer service, excess costs, loss of control and even labor problems.  At this juncture, owners are  faced with the choice of returning the promoted employee back to their previous position, or terminating them.

 

When outsiders are selected, their individual style may conflict with your corporate culture, or they may have flat out lied about their experience.  All too often if there isn’t a good corporate fit, a  newly hired manager may quit or be fired. Then the recruitment, selection and hiring process starts all over again. It’s expensive and time consuming.

 

You will find that the information in this article is useful both if you are using a recruiter or handling all or parts of the hiring yourself.  There are about ten key items in every job that when done well result in success for the individual and the company. When you don’t have a clear idea of what you want your manager to do, you won’t have an appropriate set of criteria to evaluate the candidates. Your first step, therefore, is to write your own “Top Ten List” for the position. Ask other key managers that will interact with the warehouse manager to review your draft before placing the employment ad.

 

Space doesn’t allow sharing every detail of the structured method used to review the resumes and applications but the focus is to:

  • Initially screen for candidates with excellent warehouse/delivery and people skills.
  • Probe for weaknesses that may disqualify the person or require additional training if selected.
  • Look for signs of motivation, stability, resourcefulness and ability to work under direction, work with others, and work under stress.
  • Reference checking usually provides more insight than written verification except for dates of employment.

I am not a recruiter but have often assisted with phone and on-site interviews with retailers’ applicant short lists. The personal interview outline questions below are intended as a starting point for more focused questions. For example, if a candidate says that they cut inventory errors by 50% in their last job, your response might be, “That’s interesting, how did you do that?” Candidates should be doing 80% of the talking while you are listening very carefully.

 

Before extending an offer it is essential to walk through and review the scope of

the operation so they are aware of the working conditions. A tentative first month work plan and training considerations should be discussed as well. In the case of internal promotions, you already know a lot about the existing skill-sets and should be blunt in addressing the development needs and put them in writing.

 

Once hired,  commit to spending formal scheduled time with the new manager as he or she gets settled in. This will benefit your profitability, customer service and minimize the risk of having to replace the person in a few months.

 

SAMPLE 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).
  • How did you learn the management skills needed in the job?
  • 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 our company?
  • Is there anything else you want to tell me about your capabilities and this potential position?

 

“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 foster 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 with the service department, to improve customer response.
  10. Must be aware of customer service problems and follow through with drivers to avoid future problems.

 

PHONE REFERENCE TOPIC CHECKLIST

  • Record the name and title of the 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.
  • Would like to add anything about him/her?

Ten Additional Strategies For Best Hiring Results

by Peter Tomeck, Furniture-Team

 

Don’t Give In To Pressure

Make a commitment to hire the individuals who have demonstrated a record of acceptable values in their previous positions; loyalty, responsibility, dedication, integrity. These characteristics are an integral part of a person’s character. They either have them or they don’t.

 

Don’t Look For Your Twin

Hire for diversity in thinking to bring in fresh, new ideas. It’s easy to feel comfortable with someone who thinks like you do, but why would you want to duplicate what you already know and do? 

 

Don’t Fixate on Yesterday’s News

Use caution at placing too high a value on previous experience – how things have been accomplished in yesterday’s business world. Things are constantly changing! It is better to make hiring decisions having also assessed personal characteristic traits like: hard-working, honest, adaptable, dependable and ablity to communicate well in a team environment and under pressure.                                                                                                                                                    

Don’t Hire Just to Fill The Position

Always think of your hiring decision as your bridge to the future.  Hire people who adapt well to change.

 

Don’t be Short-Sighted

Always dedicate sufficient time and effort to evaluate talent in applicants. Your ultimate hiring decisions have a direct correlation to your company’s success.  

 

More Is Better

Utilize multiple interviewers and each one should focus on evaluating different criteria and credentials; job skills vs. ethics vs. vision. 

 

Be a Good Listener

Place a high value on the candidates that refer to their accomplishments as “we” rather than ‘I”. A true team player will interact with other departments and do well within your organization.      

 

Rate The Responses

Too often, interviewers fail to rate the responses to similar questions from competing candidates fairly. Evaluate the answer not just the applicant.

 

Evaluate The Process

After the hiring process has been completed you should meet with the team and be prepared to make the changes needed to improve for the next time!

 

Follow The Laws

Know what to ask and what not to ask. Work hand in hand with your HR department, if you  have one, or get the legal information you need to avoid costly mistakes.   

 


About Dan Bolger: Daniel Bolger P.E. provides operations consulting services to clients throughout North America. FURNITURE WORLD readers can contact him at bolger@furninfo.com or phone 740-503-8875. For more information on transportation, logistics and furniture warehousing topics, go to FURNITURE WORLD’s website www.furninfo.com to read all of Dan’s articles. 

 

About Pete Tomeck: Pete Tomeck is President of Furniture Team Management Recruiting, Inc., a dedicated furniture industry search firm since 1999 offering complete management and executive level placement services in the retail, distribution/ logistics and wholesale/ manufacturing sectors.   He has a passion for recruiting, integrity and real world hiring experience.

 

Prior to Furniture Team, Pete Tomeck was Director of Human Resources, Store Operations and Customer Service with Breuner’s Home Furnishings Corporation (BHFC) serving as a Director for the GOODS Furniture division of BHFC. Questions can be directed to him care of editor@furninfo.com or call him direct at 717-361-7858.


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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