Route driving consists of four different sets of skills. If you are the sole owner/operator of your business it would benefit you to increase your ability in the following four areas:
- The first is driving. Driving is something you most likely already know how to do. However, if you're not use to your truck, you will need to learn some new things. For example, choosing the place to unload is paramount. This is really the only place you can become more efficient when simply parking the truck.
- The second is route scheduling. With so many different locations having different needs, you need a schedule. Don't think you can simply remember where and when you need to go.
- The third skill is filling vending machines. You can increase your efficiency very fast by learning how to fill a vending machine properly. After you do so, it almost becomes a muscle memory. Merely filling the machines is not the whole job at once.
- The fourth skill is fixing vending machines. This is when you shift gears and look at the machine as a whole. Fixing machines is the way of life for a vendor. The faster you fix a machine, the faster it can start making money again. Partnering with a corporation is a way to take the hassle out of maintaining lots of machines. Sometimes they will give you deals. One example is if you sell their product exclusively, they will fix your machines for free. Even if you order product from multiple manufactures, the fact that you don't have to fix those particular machines gives you an extra little bit of time to focus on other things.
Having said this, I want to stress to you the importance of being able to fix rudimentary problems yourself. Often times you won't be able to fix the root of a problem right away but you'll be able to fix its symptom.
If you're good, you can shift back and forth between filling to fixing in an instant. You can also move back and forth between filling (in your mind) and loading the truck. This will help you bring the correct product on your route. In vending you may deal with a lot of information at once, simply because of the high volume of business you need to maintain a profit.
If you're selling a car, chances are that car isn't going to malfunction just because you sold it. This is because the system that does the selling only creates wear for one item. A decent vending machine will vend 100 items between servicing. The possibilities for things to go wrong are endless. If you walk around with this attitude, it will be harder to derail you and make you more able to solve the problems that occur.
Normally I wouldn't recommend that, but at the same time you might have no other option. If something is unfixable it's important to notify who's in charge and make a sign saying what the problem is and when the clientele can expect it to be fixed. This will prevent phone calls from confused or angry customers who think that the machine will never work again. People sometimes jump to conclusions.
Customer service falls under the category of filling machines, but in some ways it deserves its own category. This is because a large part of your job and your growth will come from good interactions with customers; either with you or the machine. The only one of those you can control is you, so make sure you have good interactions with them every time. Your good interactions will often make up for, or smooth over, bad interactions with machines. Assume it takes a year for a person who's developed a negative association with a machine to give it a fair shot again.
If you can develop all of these skills to the point where you can use multiple at a time or use them one right after another without breaking your concentration, then you will become much more efficient. Making yourself more efficient will then allow you to make more money.