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Employment Opportunities

Introduction

The Montana Business Enterprise Program is always looking for new vendors and will entertain applications at any time. New vendors are often needed to start new facilities or routes, fill in for current vendors on leave, and/or replace vendors leaving the program. At the same time, an interested candidate should be aware that after completing training and earning a provisional license, a new vendor may have to wait for up to several months for a placement.

Vendor Duties and Responsibilities

A Vending Facility Operator in the Montana program operates and services coin operated beverage and snack vending machines and/or operates snack bars or other live food service stands located on state, federal and other properties in Montana. The operator may function as a member of a vending facility team that is responsible for managing and operating vending routes or facilities at multiple sites in a given geographic area. Duties of the position include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • Stocking and servicing vending machines and/or operating snack bars or other food service operations
  • Routinely ordering stocks and supplies for vending machines or live stands
  • Performing routine maintenance on vending machines and other facility equipment
  • Ordering vending machine/equipment repairs when needed
  • Assist in developing new sites for the location of vending machines
  • Managing customer service and satisfaction
  • Marketing and merchandising vended products
  • Regularly evaluating product popularity
  • Monitoring and reporting on product sales
  • Carrying out basic business functions, including planning, bookkeeping and financial reporting, and collecting and depositing funds from machines
  • Participating in periodic program, team and operator evaluations
  • Participating in activities of the vending operators committee

Eligibility Requirement, Preferences and Qualifications

MBEP firmly believes that customers deserve the very best service and from that will flow a successful business. Toward that end, a number of eligibility and entrance standards have been developed for the blind vendors program.

  1. Eligibility Requirement

    A vendor candidate must be an accepted Vocational Rehabilitation client of the state of Montana.
  2. Licensing Preference

    Preference will be given to blind persons who are:

    • In need of employment for economic reasons; and
    • Residents of the State of Montana
  3. Licensing Criteria

    A vending facility operator license will be issued only to persons who meet the following criteria:

    • Blindness as defined in ARM 46.6.2501;
    • A Citizen of the United States;
    • At least 21 years of age;
    • Determined to be qualified to operate a business enterprise facility; and
    • Determined to be in need of vocational opportunities.
  4. Qualifications for Operating a MBEP Facility

    The following qualifications address the "determined to be qualified " provisions in ARM 46.6.2510.

    1. Motivation and Initiative

      Standard: An applicant must continually demonstrate that they are highly motivated to both become a vendor and to excel in the position. At the same time, an applicant must continually demonstrate a high level of initiative in identifying and solving problems related to virtually every aspect of the business.

      Rationale: Those who do not exhibit these characteristics generally do not succeed in operating their own businesses.
    2. Reading Ability

      Standard: 8th grade reading ability.

      Rationale: Operators and students must read and understand various documents, including their operating contract, equipment manuals, and other routine documents. It has been determined that this standard is necessary to accomplish this.

      Any applicant not meeting this standard is ineligible but should be tested for potential to reach this standard and referred back to their counselor with that information.
    3. Arithmetic Ability

      Standard: Mathematical skills that include the ability to calculate percentages and to add, subtract, divide and multiply whole numbers and fractions.

      Rationale: An applicant or operator needs to master basic arithmetic computation skills to facilitate in the operation of a business, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and decimals. In addition, an applicant or operator must possess the ability to do mental arithmetic, a skill necessary for working at a till or for making refunds to vending machine customers. For example, "If you buy 6 three-cent candies and give the clerk a quarter, how much change will you get back?"

      Any applicant not meeting this standard is ineligible but should be tested for potential to reach this standard and referred back to their counselor with that information.
    4. Physical Ability

      Standard: Demonstrated physical abilities that allow the applicant to stand for extended periods of time; to bend, to stoop, to kneel, and to lift light- to medium-weight packages (e.g., 30 to 50 pounds).

      Rationale: In operating vending machines, the operator must be physically capable of loading product (especially cases of beverages) into his or her storage area, and then into a delivery vehicle for travel to a site. At the site, the operator must offload the product to a cart for conveyance to machines and then load the product into those machines. In operating a vending stand, the operator must be able to stand for long periods, arrange and stack product in storage area, and then move product to display areas.

      Any applicant not meeting this standard is ineligible.
    5. Personality

      Standard: Ability to meet and deal with people in a courteous manner and to develop and maintain positive working relationships with others.

      Rationale: MBEP believes the most important attribute contributing to success as an operator is the ability to relate well to customers. "Relating well" means having a friendly personality and enjoy meeting people, having a positive attitude about oneself and others, liking work that requires constant interaction with others, and a strong desire to serve others.

      Any applicant not meeting this standard is ineligible.
    6. Manual Dexterity

      Standard: Motor coordination that will enable the applicant or operator to stock and restock a full range of items commonly found in vending machines and the ability to identify coins, visually or by tactile sense.

      Rationale: Manual dexterity and fine finger dexterity are essential to be successful in many industrial, machine operation, and assembly occupations.

      MBEP vending machines training calls for students to learn both simple and the very difficult mechanical processes and complex dexterity tasks. Dexterity is also required in change-making, coffee preparation, and working with heating equipment.
    7. Vocational Choice

      Standard: Counselor and client agreement that the vocational objective is appropriate, taking into account the client's previous experience, training, former vocations, and education.

      Rationale: This relates to the stated considerations included in the state statute and administrative rules.

      If such agreement between the counselor and the applicant has not been reached, the applicant is ineligible.
    8. Communication

      Standard: Demonstrated ability through an objective measure to record and retrieve notes, phone numbers, business records, merchandise and supply inventories, orders, develop appropriate external business communications, and writing signature.

      Rationale: These are basic skills that are required of every business person in MBEP and elsewhere.

      Any applicant not meeting this standard is ineligible.
    9. Mobility

      Standard: Demonstrated ability through an objective measure to travel independently without the necessity of sighted assistance in commercial and residential areas using public transportation (if necessary), in order to get to and from business and training sites, as well as indoor environments in order to locate and efficiently service the vending site.

      Rationale: Program businesses and training sites are scattered throughout various communities as well as throughout the state. In order to be successful and independent, an applicant has to have the ability to get to and from these locations without the aid of a driver.

      An applicant not meeting this standard is ineligible.
    10. Medical Conditions

      Standard: If the applicant has an illness requiring daily medication (i.e., Diabetes, Epilepsy), he or she must report such requirements to the counselor and/or training staff in advance of training and demonstrate his or her ability to self-administer medication and take responsibility for controlling his or her illness and/or dietary requirements.

      Rationale: Health problems that require medication can, if not carefully controlled by the medication, seriously disrupt day-to-day business schedules and customer satisfaction.

Referral, Application and Selection Process

  1. BLVS counselor identifies prospective candidate.
  2. Counselor and candidate agree that vending as a vocational objective is appropriate. [Documentation: Agreement jointly signed by candidate and counselor]
  3. Counselor then refers candidate to MBEP staff for information on program and training process.
  4. Counselor arranges with MBEP for candidate to visit vending facilities to gain better understanding of activities required of a vendor.
  5. Counselor determines that candidate meets eligibility requirement and assesses candidate in relation to eligibility preferences. [Documentation: brief report]
  6. Counselor arranges testing and evaluations to satisfy eligibility criteria. [Notify MBEI of dates once scheduled]
  7. Counselor and MBEP staff discuss evaluation results, jointly arrive at recommendation to train or not to train.

    If candidate is deficient in some areas, counselor (with MBEI help, if appropriate) will determine whether candidate can be brought up to standards; if so, develop action plan for accomplishing it.
  8. Counselor advises candidate on results of evaluation process and decision on next steps.
  9. Client makes formal application to MBEI. Required documentation:

    • Vocational choice agreement
    • Counselor assessment of eligibility requirement and preferences
    • Evaluation results
    • MBEP application
    • Current eye exam
    • Description/assessment of any other health or medical conditions
  10. Candidate will be provided with introductory information on MBEP; before beginning next step, candidate must correctly answer questions on the material.
  11. MBEI (with input from counselor) arranges for 3- to 5-day on-site visitation of a program business; MBEI staff and the counselor will meet with candidate on final day of visitation to discuss candidate's experiences and observations.
  12. Candidate is placed on training list and will be kept advised of potential start date by MBEI staff.

New Vendor Training Program

  1. Purpose

    Federal Regulations related to the business enterprise program specifically address training for clients as well as established vendors as follows:

    The State Licensing Agency shall ensure that effective programs of vocational and other training services, including personal and vocational adjustment, books, tools, and other training materials, shall be provided to blind individuals as vocation rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112), as amended by the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1974 (P.L. 93-516). Such programs shall include on-the-job training in all aspects of vending facility operation for blind persons with the capacity to operate a vending facility, and upward mobility training (including further education and additional training or retraining for improved work opportunities) for all blind licensees. The State Licensing Agency shall further ensure that post-employment services shall be provided to blind vendors as vocational rehabilitation services as necessary to assure that the maximum vocational potential of such vendors is achieved and suitable employment is maintained within the State's vending facility program.

    The MBEP training program is designed to meet these requirements.
  2. Course Description

    The new vendor training course is a combination of classroom studies and field training that focuses on imparting to prospective vendors a thorough knowledge of sound business principles, management and merchandising techniques, and vending machine operations, service, and maintenance, all of which are essential to the profitable operation of a vending facility or route. (After placement, operators receive on-the-job assistance and in-service training for improved profitability, efficiency, machine operation and maintenance, and business management.)

    1. Training Curriculum

      The training course curriculum consists of the following modules:

      1. Introduction and Orientation
      2. Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program
      3. Montana Business Enterprise Program
      4. Introduction to Vending and the Vending Industry
      5. Blind Vendors in the Montana Program
      6. Acquiring and Establishing Vending Sites
      7. Keys to Successful Business Management
      8. Business and Financial Management
      9. Operating a Vending Route
      10. Leadership and Management
      11. Vending Machine Operation
      12. Vending Machine Maintenance and Repairs
    2. Training Locations

      All classroom training is typically conducted at the MBEP facility in Helena. Field training activities are also in Helena, while on-the-job training is conducted on an active vending route.
    3. Training Materials

      All training materials are provided by MBEP to trainees both prior to and during the training sessions in appropriate alternative formats.
    4. Training Outcomes

      Once an individual has successfully completed the MBEP training program, he/she will be expected to be able to move directly into route operation activities in their area. They will be licensed as qualified vending facility operators and will become probationary employees of MBEI.
    5. Progress Evaluation

      Progress during the training process will be determined by observation, student interview, and objective testing. Testing will occur after each section and at the completion of training. Students must pass each section with a score of 70 percent or better. Opportunity for retesting and training will be provided.
  3. Training Process

    1. MBEI schedules training course, notifies candidate and counselor of dates and contents.
    2. Candidate is provided with "pre-work" study materials, which must be read prior to start of training session; candidate must successfully pass test on assigned materials on first day of training.
    3. Training course begins and includes at least three weeks classroom and field training in Helena. Candidates are periodically tested to determine their progress.
    4. Initial course sessions conclude; MBEI prepares interim evaluation of candidate and progress to date.
    5. Field training sessions begin, wherein candidate accompanies existing operator on route for up to three weeks.
    6. Second interim progress evaluation completed, with recommendations on future steps.
    7. If necessary, candidate spends up to one additional week in Helena with trainers working on any areas of weakness.
    8. Final evaluation of trainee completed, resulting in recommendation as to whether to advance the trainee in the program or not.

Placement and Licensing

  1. On-the-job Training Placement

    Once the trainee has successfully completed the new vendor training program, he or she will receive an on-the-job training placement, which could either be on an existing facility/route or a new one. (Such a placement could require up to 12 months to arrange.) This placement will be for at least six months and will also meet the program's six-month probationary employment requirement. The candidate's work performance will be evaluated and the end of two, four and six months.
  2. Licensing

    If, at the conclusion of the candidate's probationary-OJT period, he or she receives a satisfactory evaluation, he or she will be licensed as a vending facility operator in the program.
  3. Permanent Assignment

    Once licensed, the operator will either (1) continue to operate his or her OJT route/facility; or (2) be added to the list for permanent placement (again, this process could take several months). A third possible option could be for the new operator to work for an existing operator until such time as another placement opportunity becomes available (this would be at the discretion of the new operator).

Timelines for Eligibility Determination, Training and Licensing

Step Responsibility Time Frame
Initial Eligibility Determination BLVS Counselor 4-6 weeks
Applicant visits existing vending operations MBEP 1 week
Informational Interview MBEI Staff 1 day
Qualifications Testing BLVS Counselor 1 day
Training Course MBEI Staff 8-16 weeks
OJT Assignment MBEI Staff 1-12 months
Licensing and Permanent Placement SLA, MBEI Staff 1-12 months

Application Form

To initiate the application process, interested applicants must complete a MBEP employment form and submit it to their BLVS counselor.

The Application Form is available in two formats:

Montana Business Enterprise Program
For the Blind and Visually Impaired

104 Riverview 5E
Great Falls, MT 59404
Voice: 406.546.8546 Fax: 406.453.6678

 

Copyright © Montana Business Enterprise Program, 2000-2012