With over 600 employees scattered across 24 locations in eight states, Martin Bros. Distributing Co. is a leading Midwest food distributor for restaurants, senior living facilities, schools, convenience stores and more. In addition to their biggest challenge of keeping high turnover positions fully staffed at all times, juggling employee communications in such a large organization is also an ongoing battle. Here’s how they used Team Engine to solve both problems at the same time.
Keeping high turnover roles staffed
Clunky online form limiting application volume
Reaching applicants to schedule interviews
Communicating time-sensitive info to drivers & warehouse staff
Increase in applicant volume
25% improvement in response rate form applicants
Established process and platform for instant messaging with drivers & warehouse staff
After a six-month implementation phase for their new (and expensive) full-service HRIS software, Ellen (HR Business Partner – Operations at Martin Bros.) found that she still lacked a fast and easy way to get timely communications out to drivers and warehouse staff—like when there’s a gas leak at a location and drivers should not return to the depot.
While her HRIS software did offer employee texting, Ellen found it difficult and cumbersome to set up, especially when compared to the out-of-the-box functionality she saw in her Team Engine demo. In fact, when she realized she could not only use it for field team communication, but also for texting with job candidates, moving forward with Team Engine was a no-brainer.
Before Team Engine, Ellen says they didn’t have a good process for internal communications; it was either email, word of mouth, or sending out individual text messages from personal cell phones—all of which took a long time to prepare, and even longer to be seen by the employees, if they ever got the message at all. And when you’re dealing with high risk situations like a gas leak, the communication delay can mean life or death.
Now, they have all 600+ employees grouped by location and function, so she can text every employee at a single location with messages only pertinent to their warehouse. Or she can send company-wide announcements directly to every employee at once, instead of blasting out group texts to 10 or 15 managers at a time and waiting on them to pass along the info to their teams (which often resulted in incomplete and inconsistent information being passed along, if it got passed along at all).
Martin Brothers started using Team Engine in early March of 2020, right before the pandemic hit. As a food distributor, Martin Brothers employees were considered essential and thus continued operations, albeit with some modifications to their daily procedures. One such change was a daily two question survey, initially distributed on paper. Once completed, the survey was turned in to a supervisor who reviewed it and logged it on a spreadsheet—a very labor intensive and cumbersome task for a manager to complete every day.
At this point, since Ellen had already onboarded her hiring managers and supervisors into Team Engine, they were familiar with the software and its features.
After someone inquired about using the software’s automated survey tool as a replacement for the paper questionnaire, they quickly replaced the wasteful paper system with a text message survey that took minutes (instead of hours) to complete on a daily basis. Not only did it save time in admin duties, but they were also able to instantly send a text message to an employee asking for more details if they answered yes to either of the questions.
Ellen says the biggest benefit on the hiring side has been how Team Engine enables her to truly multitask and get more done in less time.
“Before, I would make one phone call and it might take me three minutes to wait for them to answer or not answer, then leave a message or actually talk to them. Now I can send four texts in a two minute period and communicate with those four people all at the same time. It’s a huge advantage that I don’t have to wait for a time when I’m not busy to do that outreach. I can do it while I’m doing three other things at the same time.”
In addition to the time savings found in multi-tasking, Ellen has seen process improvements and time savings in all corners of recruiting and hiring process including:
Ellen's calls frequently get screened, and many people do not have their voicemail setup or their mailbox is full, so it's hard to reach them. Now, with Team Engine, Ellen says she doesn’t even start with a phone call. “I start by texting applicants, introducing myself, and asking when would be a good time to call. They’ll answer a call if they’re expecting a call.”
Ellen says Team Engine has improved their response rate when reaching out to candidates, too. “Previously it was around 30% of our applicants we never heard back from. That’s down to around 5% now. It’s a very low number of people that we can’t get a hold of one way or another through Team Engine.”
Before Team Engine, the application to work at Martin Bros. was not mobile-friendly. Making the switch to a short, mobile-friendly form resulted in getting more applicants since it made the barrier to completion much smaller for applicants.
Because Ellen is filling high turnover roles with unskilled laborers, her strategy is high volume recruiting. She says this is where Team Engine is most effective for her on the hiring side of things - in making sure they are leveraging all their resources and experimenting with new ways to find employees.
Ellen stresses that texting with employees and candidates is not a replacement for talking to them, just like texting with your friends is not a replacement for hanging out with your friends. What Team Engine does, though, is automate the experience to make sure things get done on time, so you don’t have to remember to do them. And once the communication is triggered, you have the ability to continue the conversation manually and personalize the experience.
We think of it as a communication tool, both with applicants and current employees. And it’s saved me so much time in that communication process.
HR Business Partner – Operations, Martin Bros.
If you're hiring for unskilled labor positions with high turnover like Ellen, connecting with applicants using text recruiting software can improve your response rates and get more qualified applicants through the door. Sign up for a free, one-week trial of Team Engine and we'll show you how.