This report is for those who are considering employment at Schwan's Home Service. It is my intention to give people the facts. It is not to defame them. I am an employee right now, and although I am blessed to have a job, I have found that working for Schwan's makes for a very tough living and it does take away from your quality of life.
I have worked for Schwan's for nine months now. What Schwan's does is send each potential employee on a "shadow" or "ride-along" day. Typically, they will send you with one of the stars. By that I mean that they send you with a driver who runs excellent numbers. My shadow day lasted 14 hours. I arrived at the depot at 8:30 AM and I got home around 10:15 PM. The driver I rode with that day did $1400 in sales. It was a good day and I got to see what a day working for Schwan's looks like.
I was offered the job upon arriving back to the depot. I accepted and began the hiring process. I had to submit to a full background check, which was no problem at all. I then had to take a DOT physical to prove that I could handle the rigors of the job. Again, not a problem. The hiring process took about two weeks. Even though I was offered the job, it still took time to complete the full background investigation. When it was completed, I was called and given a start date. I was pretty excited. The job seemed simple to me, even though the hours were extremely long -- my shadow day seemed to fly by, even though I was in a truck for 14 hours. I was always moving and it was cool to meet other people on the route.
My training lasted eight weeks, and this is something that I have to give a great amount of credit for -- most depots, from what I have heard, do not properly train their new drivers. Once a driver shows he can pass the drive test and has a few days under his belt with another driver, they turn him loose. This only sets route managers (read: Schwan's Man) up to fail. So I am thankful that I was trained for the full eight weeks with someone that cared about my success. To this, I give my former depot a round of applause.
Upon successfully completing my training, I was turned loose to run my own set of routes. It went pretty well. I was running decent numbers, although these numbers were lower than they were previously running. This is usually unavoidable. Schwan's has an insane turnover rate. I am considered a veteran, and I have been doing this for nine months -- so maybe that lets you in on the typical employment length of most route managers. This turnover rate really hurts sells, because to be completely honest -- people do not like seeing a new person standing on their doorstep every three months. I remember people asking me, "So, how long do YOU plan on sticking around?" That is the mindset of most customers. Why should they even attempt to build a relationship with you if they feel that you will be gone in three months? If you plan on sticking with Schwan's, then you need to develop thick skin. People will be rude because they are wondering where the other guy went who used to bring them their goodies. Now, you are going to be a nuisance to them. If you prove yourself by showing up for three months in a row or so, they will begin to trust that you're someone who just might be sticking around. From the beginning, you are running up a steep hill. Proving yourself is not fun, but as I said, my routes were running decent numbers and they were steadily climbing with each visit that I paid to my customers.
This past summer, I asked my manager if I could switch one route day so that I didn't have to run a day on the 4th of July. I thought it wouldn't be a problem. I had Friday off, so I could have easily made up the day. My customers told me that I shouldn't even bother stopping because they either wouldn't be home, or they would be celebrating with family and friends. Well, my boss told me that I could not move the day and I would run it as scheduled. I did, and I sold $286 worth of product. 286 x 0.11 (Schwan's employees are paid 11% commission) = $31.46. I worked about 12 hours that day, so as you see -- I made $2.62 an hour on a HOLIDAY. Nice, huh? Now, some depot managers will let you move days around, but many won't. What company do you know that would be fine with paying their employees less than $3 an hour on a holiday? Schwan's would and does. I knew before that day even started that it was a complete waste of time. Who wants to see their Schwan's Man on a holiday? I was thankful that most of them understood that I did not want to be there anymore than they did, but it didn't help sales. It is ridiculous that Schwan's does not provide a minimum guarantee for their employees who work holidays. Schwan's has their employees run days on New Year's, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Halloween and Christmas Eve. I might even be forgetting some. It's all about the bottom dollar.
How about the time that you don't get paid? I arrive to work at 8:30 in the morning. I pre-trip my truck and get ready for the day -- this usually takes about 20 minutes. On more than one occassion I have arrived to work at 7 in the morning to take my truck to a shop to have it inspected. I once sat there for four hours while my truck was fixed. No pay for that, and I missed four hours of my route where I could have been out making money. I guess your time is not money. You also have to do your bank deposit at the end of the day and drive to the bank to drop it off. I'd say on a regular day, I spend an hour doing tidious things (they do have to get done, but still) that I, nor any other driver get paid for.
Let's talk more about the pay at Schwan's. They pay you a $120 a day guarantee when you start working for them -- some depots a little higher, some lower. The average day lasts 12-14 hours. So at most, you are making $10 an hour. For me, it was decent money and I was fine with it. I knew when I got my route that the potential to make more was there. When I got on my route, I was making anywhere from $80 to $250 a day in commission ($250 was the exception, not the rule). I started in one of the best depots in the corporation numbers-wise. I had probably the third or fourth best route, and I made about $2400 a month after taxes. Not terrible money, but let's not confuse it with good money.
Let's break it down some more... Each depot has at least one driver who runs great numbers -- some depots have drivers who run deuces ($2000+ in sales). That is cranking. If you're running that, you're doing very well for yourself, and it also means that you have been with the company for years and you have developed an awesome relationship with your customers. They know exactly when you're coming and they can nail down a time window of about 10-20 minutes of when you will arrive. Guys like this are to be applauded because they have given this job their all and have put in some serious hours. But how much money are they really making? If a driver is running 2 grand a day, he is making 13 percent in commission (Chairman's Club). 2000 x 0.13 = $260 a day. A guy I know puts in 14 hours a day like clockwork, and he averages $2000. He works four days per week. That equals out 56 hours per week. Now, let's take his weekly commission -- $1040 a week before taxes. Now, the guy I am talking about has been with Schwan's for 14 years, so keep that in mind.
1040 x 4 (four weeks in a month) = $4160 per month before taxes.
4160 x 12 (12 months in a year) = $49920 per year. Now, that is a loose figure, so leave $2000 or $3000 there either way for margin of error.
Now, let's factor in the hours. As I said, the guy I am talking about works 14 hour days.
14 x 4 = 56 hours per week.
56 x 4 (4 weeks in a year) = 224 hours worked per month.
224 x 12 (12 months in a year) = 2688 hours worked per year.
Let's see how much a route manager makes per hour. Not just ANY route manager, but a route manager that runs awesome numbers -- some of the best in the whole corporation.
49920 / 2688 = An hourly wage of $18.57 an hour. Again, leave a dollar each way for margin of error. This is not an exact science. So, one of the best in the corporation, who has been with the company for 14 years, makes $18.57 an hour -- roughly the same amount that a Costco employee would make after two years -- and here's the kicker: working a lot less hours! They also get paid holidays. Schwan's employees do not.
Customer Service Manager's (read: Your Schwan's Man) are the reason that Schwan's is a Fortune 500 company. The suits in the corporations are the guys who have college degrees and make their decisions from afar. Most of them have never managed their own route or been on a truck. Yet, they make all the decisions.
So, if you want to work for Schwan's, get a few things straight first:
They will fill your heart and eyes with stars. You hear of the 'flexible' hours and income potential. You hear about the management potential. If Schwan's offered all of these great things, then why on earth would they need to advertise that they are hiring on every single truck that runs a route? You would think finding a job with Schwan's would be mighty scarce if these promises were being fulfilled. The problem is is that they are not.
If you like spending time with your family, do not work for Schwan's. If you're highly motivated and love working long hours, then by all means, go for it. If you're young and single, it might be the gig for you. If you can face daily rejection and the feeling of having your very livelihood depend on whether a person's freezer is full, then by all means, go for it. If you enjoy working holidays and not being fairly compensated for it, then go for it. If you enjoy people hiding from you when they see you roll up, then have it at it, ace. Just remember: a sucker is born every minute. Most of them work in commission sales with a very low ceiling for companies like Schwan's who nickel and dime their employees and have an astronomical turnover rate.
Schwan's Home Service will cease to exist in the coming years IF they don't find a way to pay their employees livable wages. Remember, the guy I outlined above is a star player and someone all other drivers look up to -- so I took a very positive sample size and presented you with cold hard facts on what a star with this company makes. Not much more than a Costco box boy who has been with the company two years while finishing his college degree. If you think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. I am telling it like it is. This is how life with Schwan's works. I would guess that the average driver works no less than 60 hours per week and takes home about 30K per year after taxes. I won't do the math for you on that one. But can you say: Less than minimum wage in most states?
A town in, Washington