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Schwan's Home Servicelife as a route sales manager (csm)

I'm not going to sling mud, I'm just going to give you facts about life as a Route Sales Manager working for Schwan's (basically being a 'Schwan's Man').<br />
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I saw Schwan's advertising their job as a Route Sales Manager and I was intrigued by the $38, 000/yr salary. I filed my application and kind of forgot about it. One month later I had an e-mail from the General Manager of the local depot, he asked me to come in for an interview, so I did.<br />
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When I arrived the manager and I spoke about the job. He told me about the "great benefits", the great salary, and the fact that Schwan's had never laid off a driver. His average driver made about $45, 000/yr with salary and commission and his best made $60, 000. He sold it to me as a great opportunity to have a career with great job security. But before I considered working for them he wanted me to go on a ride day and ride along with one of his drivers to get a feel for the job. This sounded great to me. I agreed.<br />
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The next week I showed up at the depot at 8am and met the driver I was riding with that day. A nice guy about my age (26). He had already prepped the truck so we were ready to go. As we drove along I quizzed him about the job and asked his thoughts. He told me how great it was and how he loved the freedom. I asked him about the hours and he said that sometimes he has a late night and he is out until 7 or so, but most of the time he's in way before that. He'd only been with the company for a few months, but he was already on track to be a Chairman's Clubber (its what Schwan's calls their top salesman. Its basically an incentive program with three different levels. The highest is Chairman's, very very few drivers get to that level).<br />
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We travelled along his route and at 4pm he told me that he was just about done so he was going to drop me off at the depot while he tended to the truck. He said the manager wanted to talk to me before he went home and he always goes home early. <br />
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When I got back in the depot the manager was waiting on me. We talked about the day and I said I enjoyed it and I was interested in pursuing the opportunity. He had me fill out forms, go do a drug test and physical, and start 3 weeks later.<br />
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Now, keep in mind this was a HUGE decision for me. I had a fairly good job that I had 8 years in. I didn't make a lot of money, but it was pretty good. Just about the same as what Schwan's was paying me. But I talked to my wife and we decided to take the risk. I put in my notice, and two weeks later I was a Schwan's man.<br />
<br />
The first day at Schwan's the reality of my situation began to sink in. The job was sold to me by a nice guy, but a liar. The average driver does not make 45K a year at the depot, they make the minimum, 38K. As a matter of fact out of 13 drivers only 3 had been there for a year. The rest were just part of a line in a revoloving door of drivers that is constantly changing due to extremely high turnover. <br />
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The hours were much longer than what I had been told. You get to the depot at 8am and you get back to the depot about 9pm. 13 hour days. 5 days a week. And if you get back earlier than 9pm you get in trouble because you're not out selling. You also have a quota, which was not really surprising. But what is surprising is that if you do not make your quota by Friday evening you have to work Saturday to make up the loss. And if you still don't cover your numbers Saturday you get written up. The bad part is the quota is very high. You have to sell $5, 850 a week in product, which is not an easy task. The product is overpriced (but very tasty) and in this economy people are tightening their belts and are not spending the kind of money you need them to so you can make your numbers. Basically everything that Schwan's sells can be bought at Wal-Mart, but it is typically 3 times more expensive at Schwan's than Wal-Mart or Homeland. Trust me, its true. My wife and I did the shopping to see. So basically you're working 60-65 hours Monday through Friday and typically at least 2 Saturdays a month for about 5-8 hours. You put in 70 hours a week!<br />
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The benefits just plain suck. The company doesn't cover hardly any of the costs so the burden is on the employee. For my wife and me to have health, vision, and dental it was costing me about $150 every two weeks. However, they do make a nice matching contribution to your 401k. <br />
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Holidays off? Nope. Well, kinda. If Christmas is on a Tuesday then you have to work the Saturday before or after to run that route day. So really you're not getting time off, you're just getting the day off and you're making the hours up on a Saturday before or after. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two holidays we did this. The other holidays (New Years, July 4th, Memorial Day, and Labor Day) we ran our routes. It was almost embarrassing. When you knock on someone's door on the 4th of July and interrupt their family BBQ to try to sell them Schwan's. Many times they were get upset, and I didn't blame them. But we had to do it.<br />
<br />
If you are running your route day and you get done at 7pm you are required to go solicit new customers until 9pm. My manager actually told us we were supposed to be out until 10pm, but no one ever stayed out that late. I, for one, refused to knock on a person's door at 9:30pm. That's bad business and its just plain rude. How would you feel if you had put your kids down to sleep and you're winding down from your long day and the Schwan's man shows up on a Monday or Tuesday night at 9:30pm? Let me tell you, you'd be pissed. So as long as we stayed out until 9 he didn't hassle us. <br />
<br />
Quota'd items. Schwan's has what they call News At The Door (NATD) items that they must show to each customer every day. These items are quota'd and if the driver does not sell a minimum number of units every week he gets written up. Most of the times the NATD items (there are always 2 of them) are made up of one new item and one item that isn't selling very well. This is a sells booster strategy. They take the NATD very seriously and I have seen them fire drivers because their quota of 20 wasn't met and they only sold 15. Granted, you get written up twice before you get fired. There were times that I actually bought 5 or 10 of an item just to meet quota. And on top of all of this, the manager at the depot I worked at was a nice guy. I liked him, we all liked him. He didn't make it bad for us, the company made it bad for him and for us. There was nothing he could do to change how the company operates. He had goals he had to meet, just like we did. We were luckier than most. Most depots do not have good managers (at least that is what I gather from talking to so many other drivers). So I guess I was lucky in that sense.<br />
<br />
I would just like to say that Schwan's has great products. But they treat their drivers very poorly. Life as a Schwan's man is hell. It is hard work and the way the company treats its drivers is pathetic. My wife still buys from our Schwan's man just because we feel sorry for him and can sympathize with his situation. I make her buy a NATD every trip, even if its something we won't eat. <br />
<br />
I went to Schwan's with an open mind and very excited. I was very disappointed at all the false statements and down right lies that were told to me before I was hired. The biggest career mistake I ever made was leaving my good job to go to Schwan's. I'm still paying for it all this time later. Luckily my time at Schwan's was over a few months after being hired, I found a different job. <br />
<br />
If you are still considering working for Schwan's after all of this, I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a successful career. But, if you think that I'm just a complainer then do two things. 1: go to www.retailreality.net (its a site set up by Schwan's drivers to talk about the company) and 2: go to /link removed/ and search for Schwans and read through the reports there from all the past drivers. If you read those and you still aren't convinced that this is a bad company to work for, then I think you will fit right in at Schwan's.<br />
<br />
If you have any specific questions about Schwan's please feel free to e-mail me and I'll answer any questions you have.<br />
<br />
[protected]@yahoo.com

Responses

  • Sh
    Shelby Tuttle Dec 09, 2012

    As a former Schwan's Man and Sales Manager I have some experience when I speak about the job a Schwan's Man does. I worked for Schwan's for 8 years, starting as a builder, then Route Salesman and lastly a Salesmanager. The life of a Schwan's Man is not easy but it does pay well, if you work hard and pursue success as if it was your own business. It has been a while since I was employed by Schwan's but when I did, I earned in the mid 50's to low 60's in the 1990's. Yes, I worked long hours easily 70-80 hours a week. I definitely concede who your Salesmanager is has a direct effect on the money you can earn. I worked for three, and two helped me and one did not. Since leaving Schwan's I have earned a BS and Masters in education. I am in my 7th year as a teacher and just topped 50K last year, which includes coaching two sports and many extra pay positions. Schwan's Home Delivery service is a unique business and requires dedication from it's employees to earn a good living. In my opinion, Scwhan's offers excellent products. Products a person can stand behind. I had no problem selling their products and would do so again if my career as an educator played out due to budget cuts. I have heard some people have a problem with Schwan's delivery charge and I can understand their complaint. However, I think many of the complaints would not have been if their route salesman would have been forthright in making their customers aware of the change in policy. I wish all those Schwan's Men and Women the best out there and hope the current leadership at Schwan's figures out a way to meet the needs of their customers and their front line employee the Schwan's Man and Women.

    2 Votes
  • concernedshwanssaleswife Jun 05, 2012
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I agree totally if you have a family this job isn't for you.not that I have kids or anything but they have my fiance bouncing depot to Depot due to lack of salesman. We usually have to drive to a different town every two weeks and stay in hotels that Schwans provides for us.he goes in at 9 in the morning an has not gotten home at one time till 1 am in the morning due to all the stops he has to make.I'm not a happy gal right now but where we live jobs are scarce. If your a Schwans wife be prepared. Plus the little time you do have he will be wore out to spend time with you

    2 Votes
  • Sa
    Sales Professional24 Mar 23, 2012
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Ive read the previous postings. First of all, sometimes a depot DOES have a sales pro that exceeds and does well, as Numbersgamer mentioned. This is the exception though. You would have to have a good route with potential to build, as well as be willing to work extremely long hours, route-build, and be allright with knocking on people's doors as late as 9 or 10 pm. Then you have to wait at least a year just to start earning decent to good commissions. Not to mention all the food you would have to buy just to be qualified on their hundreds of offerrings.

    Keep in mind that even though Schwan's has good food, it is high priced. No matter what Positive Reinforcement says above, we are still in a down economy and most people have to drive to the grocery store at least for milk, eggs, and beverages. Why not pay less for what they want at the store, and not have to wait for a "time window" you are slotted. Most of the times as a sales trainee, we didn't make it to the customer during their slotted time window. And one of my training days was spent with people constantly telling us they couldn't afford to order, or just couldn't wait for the 2 week cycle to come around to order.

    Remember that when Schwan's started in 1952, the American landscape and family was very different. We are living in society where both mother and father work, kids have extra-curricular activites and weekend soccer games. It is harder today to catch customers at home, even with specified time windows, and especially with 60-100 customers per day. On top of that, we have a more fast-paced, mobile society where it's easy to get around, Wal-Mart and super markets are within a reasonable drive, and Sam's Club and Costco offer incredible prices!

    Schwan's has a 70% employee turnover ratio. One of the reasons I quit after 2 weeks training was that I was able to review the last year's sales numbers by route, posted by the bathroom in the depot. Each open route in the depot I had a possibility of being placed on was weak. The routes were running $500-600 daily, well below the $900 mark to even start making commissions. I figured with my sales experience, my hard work, and my love to meet new people, I could greatly improve on the route. But even if I doubled the production of the best open route, I would still be making a little over $40K a year for my 80 hours a week. And that $40K feels like 40 cents when you take into account the loss of family time, loss of personal life, increased stress, and always being miserable.

    All of what Gussy82 says above is true! Even the false info I was fed to get me hired. And I was also told I was NEVER required to work Saturdays. But the first week of training, a message was posted in the depot that it was MANDATORY for EVERYONE to work the next Saturday (also St. Patrick's Day when everyone is out) as an extra route day. The employees were also treated poorly. My first few days on the job were spent listening to the sales and facilities managers degrade all the employees over my training videos. Besides that, the depot manager had to sleep either in his office or on a fellow employee's couch because the company wouldn't let him keep charging a hotel room, after they moved him from another state to that location. They weren't even allowed to order uniforms for several months, leaving me to dig through old worn and dirty uniforms of ex-employees to equip myself for the job. I had to wear pants that were 2 sizes too big, and a jacket that was 3 times too big.

    Users like The Motivated Schwans Man speaking of the money invested in our training and telling people to grow up, and Positive Reinforcement calling everyone failures must be Schwans management or execs. It's the same kind of BS I experienced there. When the people that mean the most to you tell you they miss you and haven't seen you in weeks, who cares about what the company invested in training? After all, it's a system that works for the company, not a career for the hard working or smart individual. If you still aren't sure who is on the level here, make sure to read the post from above by SchwanmanWife2 and tell me you would change places with them.

    2 Votes
  • Th
    The motivated schwans man Jan 18, 2012

    I have been workig for Schwans for 4 years, 2 of the 4 were spent in the warehouse.. once i turned 21 i jumped on routes.. The first year was hard, i wrked 12 hrs a day 5 SOMETIMES 6 days a week, finally got established... Was on those route days for 2 yeats then the depot optimization came in and cut my route apart.. it hurt havibg to start over from scratch, but i did... Its been 6 months since then ive since went to 4 day wrk week, i love it i wrk wed-sat 12 hrs a day and am on track to make 46k this year... Schwans has there issues yes, when u start out the hours suck, the pay sucks, the overall responsibilities you get sucks... But bc of schwans i have made so many great accomplishments... Ive never chairman clubed been close 2 years in a row... If ur not a sales driven person, with the ability to set and accomplish goals... Then why would you come to wrk for a sales company... Schwans cant build ur routes for you... My route was averaging 500$ per day... Ive since grown one of the said to be hardest routes to run up to a 1500$ dollar avg... Thats 1000$ a week wrkin 4 days... So i have to say dont hate the company just because it wasnt for u... Grow up and move on believe me schwans did... Afterall they invested time and money into ur training and it didnt last..

    0 Votes
  • Pa
    pa x schwansman Nov 26, 2011

    They did not want to pay38, 000 what makes you think they are happy paying you 50 or 60 grand? doing the same job? you are not thinking so you will be back on 11 percent comission.

    -2 Votes
  • Po
    PositiveReinforcement Apr 15, 2011

    I understand the complaints completely. As a new job for someone with a family this is probably the wrong career path to choose. If your personality is not a go-getter type then you will fail so do not waste your time. If you don't have a 4 year degree, are single, and have the drive to earn a nice income then you have no reason not to try it. Most drivers are classified as CSMT's when they come in, do not have a route and have to "wait their turn" to get on an open route. I have been there 4 years and seen probably 35 or 40 people come and go, but their talent level and what it takes to do the job were not a match. It is long hours but there are ways to make it work. I have been there 4 years and was one of the lucky ones to fall in to a flex system working 8 hours a day when I first started. My first year I made $4100 in a little over 8 months. Second year $58, 000, third year $63, 000 and this year on pace to hit even higher with the new compensation plan in place. The job now rewards those of us that run a high daily number instead of everybody. It's truly a pay for performing type of compensation. I love it. I love my job and I love all the people I see every 2 weeks. I have made some great friends, some great contacts and great resources should I ever decide to leave the company for other endeavors. If you want a desk job a desk job this is not. You need to be in relatively good physical condition and you have to have a strong desire to succeed and sell. You have to make friends easily and have a bubbly fun type of personality. Economy is not an excuse, people always eat and they will pay more for good food. If you or someone you know failed at this job then they need to take a look in the mirror, chances are this wasn't the first or last time they failed. You can make $60k plus on this job within 2 or 3 years with effort or you can go flip burgers at McDonalds for $7.50 and hour. Don't be haters.

    -2 Votes
  • Sc
    schwanmanWIFE2 Feb 15, 2011

    My husband has worked for Schwans for years... we now are in our 30s and have 2 children. One 2 and one 2 months... my husband THE SCHWAN MAN leaves our house just before 9am and gets home 11pm or after. If he gets home earlier, I am shocked... He makes around $60K a year... he has always been in the chairman's club... I used to be so proud of his efforts and the fact that he was in the top 4% of the region... but now it is a HARD HARD life now that we have 2 kids. I never see him, and I am ALWAYS mad at him. I am basically a SINGLE mom. Of course on the weekends he is home, but that is when we have to catch up on EVERYTHING... and he usually is exhausted. He usually works Monday - Thursday, but lately he has been taking on fundraisers... on the weekends... which takes him away for about 70 hours per week. It has been EXTREMELY hard on our marriage... and as the kids get older and into sports it will be more and more challenging. The loves it because the people LOVE him... and he gets a satisfaction from being on top... but SOMEDAY he will realize what he missed...

    3 Votes
  • Nu
    Numbersgamer Feb 07, 2011

    If your looking for a "job", steer clear. If you have been 1099 and have independent sales experience or previous business development/ownership and understand what it means to build a client book through the numbers game of prospecting, this is a no brainer. My first year was 70-80 hour weeks - $54k. My second year - $67k. This year I'm working four days per week (m-th) 48-50 hours and on pace for $80k+ with the new comp plan. Word to the business minded who may be considering, Schwan's is filled with employee minds like the one above. This is a money maker for producers focused on the numbers game involved with prospecting. Now that my route is 90+ stops per day with referrals coming in, I'm on my way to six figures within 24 months. I arrive at the depot each morning at 9am (Monday's 8am for meeting) and I get back to the depot at 9:45pm - 10pm. I move quickly through each day and from 5pm - 9pm this means that I'm usually running. By the way, I've lost 37 pounds since starting the "job". It hasn't been easy but I have worked much harder in the past with much riskier results. Schwan's knows that if I leave this route, odds are, business will be lost because of the low grade human resources pool at their disposal. So, it's nice to be appreciated although I spend 95% of my working time solo on route. Also, I made $1400 in Holiday tips this past season which was as nice as it was unexpected. It's a business and the only one's succeeded treat their route as a business. Thanks to all the failures for forcing the company to change the complain recently, I got a very nice raise.

    2 Votes
  • Fi
    firsttimeuser2010 Nov 23, 2010

    Your complaint is so perfectly written, exactly what I went through with my short employment of 47 working days, 60 calendar days. Although I was fortunate to just get my health insurance and use it quickly before it expired I did still pay my share for using it. I was a women driver and yes the same applies to a women driver. I put in my notice to terminate my employment 3 or 4 weeks in advance and they terminated me shortly after submitting my termination, then told me all my mistakes and I was no longer needed to finish my original time to terminate employment. I won a lousey 2 weeks unemployment from the two weeks they terminated my employment early but I won't believe it until I actually see the money in my account. You are 100% right on what you have written. I was working until 11 PM to midnight most nights. There was no 7:30 PM, maybe somewhere during training in the first two weeks. They are very deceptive and do lie to get out of paying unemployment for lying in the first place. I left a good job with the US Census and gave up unemployment that I was already guarenteed to get for 6 months. I think it is very sad how they rob driver's of their lives. If you figure 70 hours a week you are only making 7-9/hr. More driver's should submitt complaints directly to the company and BBB so they stop the mistreatment of their driver's. You know someone is getting rich when they bring in $60, 000 or more a week at a depot. The driver's aren't getting rich and they are losing their lives and health at the same time to earn a false salary. I give Schwan's a grade "F"

    3 Votes
  • Sc
    schwansdriverwife1978 Jan 20, 2010

    I completely agree with everything you have said, my husband has worked there for almost 2 years and he is always gone, they do not care about your family to them Schwans is your top priority. My daughter gets really sick easily and when he has had to call in they make him come in later after we are done at the ER or he has to come in on saturdays. I feel bad like you said so we still buy but I really hope this economy changes so my husband can change jobs.

    1 Votes

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