Advice from the Route Hiring and Training Considerations

Training route staff to provide customers with the best customer service is the key to a successful coin-operated game route. Making sure that staff members possess the qualities that lead to achievement on the job is also important.

At Bonham Amusement in Terre Haute, Ind., Co-owner Steve Bonham said the “route” to success starts with on-the-job training. “We have an experienced staff person go around with any new hires, and we show them what to do. To a large extent, it’s common sense, but some new hires might take longer to get up to speed than others.” Bonham called honesty the most important quality route staff members need to exhibit. “You can teach them almost anything, but you can’t teach honesty,” he said. And considering coin operated route staff need to handle a great deal of money by necessity, employee honesty is key for Bonham when it comes to running a successful business. 

Elsewhere in the state, Greg Deller, owner of Amusement Games Inc., located in Santa Claus, Ind., also related that making sure route staff members provide strong customer service starts with training new hires thoroughly. “We’ve had our same crew here for a long time now, in part because they know what they are doing and they do a good job. But when they started, we shadowed them, did one-on-one training with them, and made sure they understood the route and what was required of them.” He added, “Then, after they are trained, we do go to random locations and check in with our customers to make sure that everything is okay with them, and our customers are getting what they need. If there is anything that needs to be fixed, we’ll handle fixing it.” He laughed that “Knock on wood, we haven’t had any complaints in a long time.” He noted, “Every employee is different as to how long they need to be trained. On an average, we train them about a month at the longest.”

Deller feels that it’s important for route staff members to have technical knowledge and be personable. “If they can show our clients that they have some tech knowledge, that is terrific,” he explained. “When that’s the case, our client feels more inclined to be satisfied with us and to believe they can get a good job done by us as operators. But it’s equally important, if not more so, for our route staff to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the customer. They need to be able to understand that they should treat clients as they would like to be treated, and that type of thing. With that in mind, personality is a large factor, too.” 

In Eugene, Ore., Jamie Rust, general manager at Amusement Unlimited, explained how he trains employees. “We shadow them to a point, mostly when they first come on board. I personally am out there with them on their route when they start, to make sure they know this is how I want things to be done, who they should talk to at each location, and things like that. On-going, I check constantly with my staff as to how clients are doing, and stay on top of that. The shadowing part usually takes about two weeks with someone with them full time; from then on, we taper that off, although we do shadow them every couple of months. We go out to each location with our staff members to make sure all is well,” he attested. 

For Rust, among the most important qualities new hires should exhibit are technical capabilities. “I probably focus more on the tech side than anything else, because I really need people who can work on the machines and take care of them. But then it depends on which aspect of my route I hire people to work. I have people doing just tech but who don’t have a collections route; they aren’t going to be my sales force necessarily. Then on my sales side, I have people who are doing collections and finding new locations, and for those individuals I don’t need the tech capability so much as I need them to be personable and friendly.”

At Domench Vending in Linden, Calif., company Owner Greg Domench agreed that training staff to provide good customer service starts with shadowing them on their route for the first month they are employed. “Everyone individually grasps what they’re told about their route, but for some it goes faster than others. We always follow up, and go talk to our customers to see how our staff is doing. Our customers will tell us if there are any problems.” Domench called integrity the most important quality staff members can have. “Technology can be taught, but integrity is huge. These employees are working with a lot of cash. You don’t want people stealing from you; you don’t want to have to check your meters every day to be sure the cash is correct.” According to Domench “It’s all about hiring someone you can trust. As long as they have some background being hands-on, the tech side can be taught, but you can’t work with a thief in a cash business.” Domench evaluates employees during the interview process and talks to former employers to get their take on a potential new hire before bringing new staff on board. 

In Rapid City, S.D., Mike Fenske, manager at Rushmore Amusement concurred that working one-on-one with new staff members is crucial to provide the best customer service. “When we get new employees in such a specialized industry, an industry where no one really knows what we do, we run with them for one to three weeks, depending on their skill levels. And, as a manager, periodically I am in and out of locations all over on service calls, and I follow up to see how they are doing.” Fenske related that he needs both tech skills and a good personality in his route staff employees. “I can teach most of the tech stuff; personality is pretty hard to teach, so that is probably the most important. I can say ‘be friendly, listen to customers’ problems,’ but some people are just better at doing that than others.” 

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