Once improvements have been made to company culture so that it’s more welcoming to younger generations, jan/san distributors would be wise to improve the way they market their company as a progressive and exciting workplace.

For starters, jan/san distributors want to make sure Millennial job seekers actually know what a jan/san distributor is and how it functions.

“They don’t understand the role of distribution and wholesale, and things like that,” says Gordon. “It’s a hidden part of industry.”

Many would guess a distributor has a different role than what they do. When the role of distributors is disclosed, it’s often perceived as a “middleman” type of business, says Gordon, who thinks this perception hurts companies.

“Most distributors are not known in their market,” adds Gordon.

One way to spread the word would be to attend area job fairs where a distributor can discuss its business and the sales rep, warehouse and driving roles it has to offer. 

“Think about college job fairs,” says Gordon. “Why couldn’t a group of local distributors show up there and talk about the opportunities in the industry and share (information on) companies in the market?”

College job fairs probably wouldn’t attract many people to warehouse and driving roles, but there’s certainly reason to believe some students might have interest in working in sales.

“Make this segment of the industry more appealing,” says Gordon. “Show that they want people.”

A distributor’s marketing of its company and employment opportunities should begin with some self-reflection, says DeVilling. In other words, the company really needs to know what it is and what it is not before it begins reaching out for employees. After determining its identity, the distributor needs to build a workplace atmosphere that’s welcoming.

“The key scenario is creating the feeling of ‘this a great place to work,’” he says.

To foster good feelings at the workplace, a distributor should focus on its strengths, and build from there. DeVilling suggests management ask employees what they like about working at the facility and build a list off of this information that can be used to market the company.

In DeVilling’s experience, employee referrals are going to drive an applicant’s hiring the vast majority of the time. Referrals can come from a family member, friend, former colleague or associate of a current employee.

DeVilling says he supports distributors offering a worker a financial bonus or perk — like extra paid time off  — if he or she recommends a candidate that ends up becoming a valued employee for the company. 

Though they might not be aware, some jan/san distributors have conducted a change in business recently that appeases to the Millennial’s priorities and beliefs. 

Ever the socially conscious, many Millennials are interested in what jan/san distributors are doing with sustainability and the sale of green cleaning products. For example, in a recent Sanitary Maintenance article, Doug Tharp, manager of Iowa-Des Moines’ Supply’s warehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, says he’s finding the restaurant industry is looking for more of the company’s biodegradable containers, green and sustainable products because that’s what the younger generation of customer not only prefers, but expects. 

If the Millennial is passionate about sustainability and “going green” in their personal lives, they’re likely to value it while at work, too. 

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