Road Warrior Retail RDs
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Are you a retail dietitian who covers multiple stores or territories for your company? Or a team of one who does it all – community events, media, and store programs for your entire chain? Then it’s likely you’re a Road Warrior Retail RD. For those without a permanent desk location, staying organized and prepared and operating an office out of your car add challenges to the job. Protecting proprietary and confidential information, effectively using down time between events or programs, accessing a quiet space for work that requires concentration, eating healthfully, and ensuring you have access to corporate files and all materials needed for your programs are all challenges when your work takes you on the road.
Consider these tips for maximizing effectiveness as a Road Warrior:
- Create an organization system. A multitude of light weight and portable containers are a sure fire way to keep your car organized. Have one for office supplies, shelf stable snacks, and technology, and various file boxes for work materials. Organize your file boxes in a way that makes most sense for your work, considering whether you separate materials by store or market location or by program (think weight management program, media spots). In doing so, you’ll minimize the materials you need to lug into each location, and still have exactly what you need to be effective in your role. Also consider how spreadsheets and checklists can be utilized to improve organization. For an ongoing kids’ cooking class, for example, a checklist of all equipment and supplies need helps ensure you don’t forget a key tool for the program when you head to the store or market location.
- Leverage technology solutions. If working off your phone or a tablet while traveling from location to location, you likely won’t have access to files stored on a company system. Utilize online file systems like DropBox as a way to ensure you have access to all program files and pertinent documents when you need them. Keep a storage bin of chargers, including those for your car and ones that allow you to charge more than one device at a time. Consider a GPS separate from your phone as you may need to take calls while traveling. Ensure you have hands-free options to allow you to make most effective use of travel time.
- Share office space. While office space is tight at any store location, explore whether some of your stores or a regional office have desk space you can share with a colleague. Often, store managers and others with an office don’t spend much time at their desks and you may be able to utilize this office space while on location.
- Establish consistent prep time. Working as a road warrior requires that you be prepped for several days of upcoming work, and holding consistent time on your calendar for this preparation can help ensure that you have all resources and materials with you while out on the road. Friday afternoons are a logical time to focus on the week ahead, preventing last minute scrambling on Monday morning.
- Keep records. It’s likely you are racking up work miles while out on the road and other expenses for programs and services. Create a system to track mileage and hold receipts, so you have a consistent place to go to when you need to file expense reimbursements.
Because your role requires you to spend a significant time on the road, talk with your manager about company coverage of these costs. Another rationale for them to cover these costs is that the company is not providing you with an office space and all the associated costs. For any costs the company doesn’t cover, you may want to talk with your accountant about those that can be deducted on your taxes. Following all these tips can lessen the stress of being a Road Warrior Retail RD.