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How we recruit and train our delivery drivers

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

A Vanoma delivery driver

One of the most challenging aspects of running an online store in Africa is delivering goods to the buyers. The delivery sector remains primarily informal, relying on independent motorbike taxi drivers (motards). Unfortunately, these motards often do not have training or the necessary equipment, and a significant percentage of online shoppers get a terrible experience as a result.

This post shares how we recruit and train our delivery drivers to ensure an unparalleled delivery experience for businesses and their customers. We believe the delivery experience depends on the professionalism of drivers, their equipment, and having the right technology tools.

Our recruiting process is optimized to identify people with high integrity. Of course, any company can make this statement. However, we would argue that delivery drivers need to meet a higher bar in terms of honesty and integrity. We have done tens of thousands of deliveries and regularly carry items such as groceries, birthday cakes, luxury goods, and cheques, to name a few. Moreover, our delivery drivers typically collect cash on behalf of sellers, as most online stores offer a cash-on-delivery payment option. Whether a driver is collecting a few dollars or a couple of thousands of dollars upon delivering a high-end laptop, we need to have confidence that the funds are safe. As such, without a single doubt, we believe that integrity is the most important quality for delivery drivers. Unfortunately, it is also difficult to accurately assess one's integrity through job interviews. Therefore, when recruiting new drivers, we rely heavily on recommendations from trusted sources. We then go beyond the recommendations to conduct thorough background check, including prior employment history.

Once a driver passes the first step, we assess other skills that we deem necessary for providing a great delivery experience. Those skills include clear communication with native proficiency in Kinyarwanda and fluency in at least one foreign language, especially English. We also require familiarity with navigation technologies such as Google Maps. This requirement is essential because calling a customer multiple times to ask for directions is unacceptable when provided with their delivery address. Finally, although most of our delivery drivers have a bachelor's degree, we require a high school diploma at minimum.

When a candidate meets all our requirements, we extend a job offer and proceed with the training. Throughout our training, we emphasize the goal of our delivery service: to ensure that the sellers using Vanoma and their customers receive an unparalleled delivery experience. We teach new drivers how to use the Vanoma Driver App to achieve that goal. This in-house smartphone app provides our drivers with all the information they need to perform delivery, from start to finish. As our drivers execute a delivery, they trigger specific actions that allow sellers and their customers to track the progress of the delivery in real-time.

Most importantly, during the training, we instruct our drivers how to handle stressful situations. For instance, when delivery is highly urgent, and the customer is calling every two minutes while at the same time the package is fragile (e.g., birthday or wedding cakes). Our priority is to strictly ensure that a package reaches the recipient in perfect condition. Hence, we explain to our drivers that they should never give in to pressure and damage a package. In addition, we urge our drivers to always reach out to our customer support staff whenever in doubt or confused. Our professional customer support staff can then communicate with the seller or the buyer to address the issue at hand.

In brief, at Vanoma, we believe a great delivery experience is a prerequisite to a great online shopping experience. That is why we put a lot of effort into recruiting the right people and giving them the training they need to perform as professional delivery drivers.

-- Anselme Mucunguzi