If you are managing a roofing supply branch, you will soon be faced with managing changes in traffic patterns and other safety concerns brought on by your community’s return to the school. Rick Damato

You already know this, but it is worth a quick reminder to your troops operating your delivery vehicles:

  • Engage your team with a “back to school” safety meeting. Not just your delivery personnel but dispatchers and customer service folks.
  • Dispatchers should add extra time for “first out” deliveries. Not only the disruption from school buses but also the additional four-wheeler traffic during the “go-to-school” morning hours and the “after-school activities” traffic.
  • Salespeople need to change course when making delivery promises. Working closely with dispatchers is going to go a long way to match your customers’ expectations with your ability to deliver on time. 
  • Drivers must slow down on surface streets, particularly near schools. It is not enough to simply drive the “school zone” speed. Drivers should be extra vigilant while driving through school zones.
  • The new traffic patterns will become routine soon enough. The beginning of the school year is the time to be hyper-aware that the game has changed, and extra care and time will be required to safely perform your otherwise routine deliveries. 
  • Managers: You must all remember that schedules for all your troops are going to be turned upside down by the needs of their family schedules. It is coming, and a great place to work requires policies and procedures that take family needs into account. 

Ring the Bell for Recruiting

Since this is the return to school season, I would like to offer up another idea for branch managers who are constantly recruiting their next forklift operator/order puller, boom operator, truck driver, or helper: go to school yourself. 

Unless your branch is in the middle of Death Valley, there is a high school within a short drive of your location. Why go to a nearby high school? To have the golden opportunity to meet high school students. Particularly, but not exclusively, students who are interested in the trades.

While many technical schools specialize in trades, most high schools have at least some components of skilled trades training. They may or may not specialize in preparing students for a career driving a truck or forklift, but they may have classes aimed at teaching industrial or construction safety and other basic skills for working in a “hands-on” environment.

Reaching out to guidance counselors and administrators may allow you to speak to prospective students to introduce them to the kind of employment opportunities your company and your branch may offer. Meeting young people in your community while they are still in school will give you a leg-up on your competition in that extremely competitive world of workforce development

You may think nothing can be more competitive than roofing supply, but I would argue that the competition for the best available talent is even more fierce. You may also think most high-school students would not be good candidates, but while they may not be today, I would argue that:

  1. Since you are always in recruiting mode (even when you are not hiring), you should always be working on your future team. Your “bench” may not be extra people hanging around the branch, but your virtual bench may be developed from relationships you form all year, every year. This even includes meeting and speaking with young people too young to go to work for you right away.
  2. If you think speaking to high school girls is a waste of your time, we need to talk. In my years in the roofing supply industry, women working in my branches were among my most trusted, reliable, and productive associates. And now, the world has awoken to the fact that women can operate a big truck, a boom, or a forklift. 
  3. If you think you have nothing to speak about to students heading off to college, think again. Many of them will attend local or community colleges. Many of them need to work to pay for their education. They can provide you with some part-time labor while they advance their education and learn about your business

Regardless of your inclination or ability to reach out to your local high school, never stop recruiting. Even if you have great resources from your company, you are the “boots on the ground” and need to do all you can to assist in keeping a full staff of the best people you can attract to your branch. And, as always, keep it safe, especially as our children return to school.