Archive for October 28, 2010

Change Career Direction With Crystal Clear Focus

"Change career direction with crystal clear focus"…

As I sit in my office working away my thoughts are drifting. With crystal clear focus I can see the direction my business is taking. In the day to day tasks of talking with clients my mind is very focused on giving them the best service possible.

I've always worked in jobs that are very centered around the client. Heck, without clients no business could even open their doors for business. The problem I've found over the years is that most businesses seem to eventually forget the most important asset they have…their clients.

Thinking of how I'm different from all others…

When I first went into business for myself there were many things I had to do. Besides the set up and logistics of permits, licenses and such; I needed computers, phone lines, printers and a fax machine.

This all took money; something I had little of. But, my desire to work out of my home was strong, I wanted to control my life. I did what any red-blooded American would do; I pulled out my Visa!

Now the pressure was on to succeed. Not only did I not have a paycheck anymore; now I had a large credit card payment to make. How would I pay the mortgage without a paycheck? Would I have money for food? If you don't know what is coming in; how do you pay the bills every other week? Oh my, so many things ran through my head, it was scary.

Scared as I was, knowing that I had to show up, work hard or not eat made it easy to work from sun up to sundown. The only secret weapon I had were the vitamins I took daily. Using them enabled me to keep my cool when others lost their tempers; it made a huge difference. Not being so stressed out; I was able to treat people kindly; it was a different type of experience for most.

Within my first week of opening for my car shipping business I found there was a ton of competition. I had to think and think fast…what was going to set me apart from the thousands of other brokers out there?

I realized by my client's comments that I was different. By taking the time to explain to them how moving cars worked it made a difference. When their transport was set up with the driver; I called them with the name and phone number. By verifying the car to be moved was picked up and on it's way, their minds were put at ease.

The icing on the cake for my clients was the hand written thank you card and small gift of appreciation they received after the car shipping was done. That small gesture is what set me apart from the masses. I learned that business tip from one of my mentors from my vitamin company, Dani Johnson. She told us to always under promise and over deliver.

She proved to be right; this helped me to take my customer service one notch above everyone elses service. I put all of my heart and soul into my business and clients needs.

Learning a lesson by watching nature…

The lessons I've learned over the past six years have been plentiful. One of the most important lessons has been that you must be willing to change; slide from one season to the next without freaking out . You must prepare for the varying seasons, too!

Like the seasons we experience in nature; there are seasons in business, too. I've seen plentiful harvest times in the summer and fall. The winters in business are treacherous and can make or break you. What you plant today may not ripen and be ready for harvest until months from now.

I learned to take each day, one by one; make it the best day ever. Treat each client like I want to be treated. Give it my all, each client deserves my best. Some days I don't feel like coming into the office; I want to go visit my grand-babies in Idaho. Maybe I want to go shopping or just plain old play hookie!

The beauty of working for yourself is that you can do those things…sometimes. I had to learn that working from home isn't get up at 10 AM and leave at 2 PM; not when you are running a six figure business. Some days I work from 6 AM to 5 PM, other days I work less. All I know is thank God for my vitamins…they have saved my mind, body and soul more than once.

By planning for the seasons, I am able to play, visit my grand-babies and travel…I'm mobile!  But, like the seasons I had to be willing to "change career direction with crystal clear focus".

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Helping Turn Back the Clock,
Carla J Gardiner
 
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Carla Gardiner is an auto transport broker, dispatcher, health coach and a fiery baby-boomer grandma. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor others in regaining their health while building a part time business, too.
 
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“Auto Transport Business Started By Fired Ex-Banker”

"Auto Transport Business Started By Fired Ex-Banker"

 
Ever have a story that you have felt compelled to share? My story is very different and it's time it is told.

With twenty plus years of experience in banking, loans and customer service; I got fired! Yes, fired for taking a firm stand for ethics and morals within the workplace.

If I were a betting kind of woman, which I'm not; I'd bet you are wondering how that story came about. You may also wonder how I remained happy; continued to smile; and managed to get through it maintaining my health.
 
I can tell you one thing and that is this. When you believe from your core that honesty, integrity and your customers needs come first; there is nothing, no money on earth worth jeopardizing that trust and those principles.
 
Recap of those twenty plus years…
 
Straight from high school I entered the world of customer service and banking. A passion for the professional atmosphere and serving others made me feel worthy, complete. My love for working with people fulfilled something I couldn’t find anywhere else. Each new position I learned, mastered and taught provided the stepping stone for my next promotion.

I was weakest in office politics. Actually I failed miserably when it came to sucking up to my superiors. I kept to my training manual and completed all tasks as assigned. When tasks were complete, rather than stand around like others, I would volunteer to help someone else. There was always something to learn. A new skill to perfect or another customer to serve. Being idle was never something I was good at, ever.

Looking back, my first stand on ethics surfaced when I was a teller. Suggesting to an elderly customer that she should move her money from an account that earned zero to an account that earned a minimal interest; proved to be a wrong decision. My supervisor was standing behind me watching, listening.
 
After the customer left, it was evident, a conference was in order. As an employee of the bank my primary focus was to make them money…not the customer. No longer was I to offer advice to my customers unless it was in the banks best interest; their bottom line in business, profits.

My feathers were more than ruffled, I was ticked off. It was only a short while and my resignation was submitted. I just couldn’t work like that. If it weren’t for customers there wouldn’t be a need for the bank! All I could think of was my grandma…what if that little customer were her. How would I want her to be treated?

Fast forward…
 
Years later my ideal job came along, or so I thought. Leaving the safe walls of banking behind me, mortgage broker lending came into my life.
 
It didn’t take long to find out that this was not where I belonged either. All of the schmoozing that went on; behind the closed door activity. Yes, you know what I mean.
 
An environment I was unaccustomed to turned into a living nightmare. The stress level was so intense; I was so thankful I had the best liquid vitamins helping my immune system. I’m not sure what would have happened to my health had I not had them.

There were no ethics, morals or loyalty exchanged…it was all out dollars and cents. That is not sense…it is cents!
 
The long and short of it was this. The crap (pardon my French) that we had to put up with at that place of employment was more than any one human being should ever be asked to endure.
 
Customers were not the focus in this business; it was the almighty dollar, it was dollar-centric. It didn’t matter what you had to say, do or make happen; the bottom line was month end numbers and closings were most important. This was their idea of a healthy business model.
 
As I documented all of the "interaction" going on in the office; how it affected my work, my attitude and my customers pocketbook; I knew it wouldn’t be a pretty outcome when I disclosed this information.
 
Approaching the owner of the business wasn’t easy, but the work environment was so miserable, it had to be done. As the facts were presented it became very clear that I had just made a huge move, an even bigger mistake. She informed me that those occurrences were none of my business. It shouldn't affect my energy level or work performance.

When all was said and done; at the end of the day all we have to take home with us is our integrity. Our moral character is hard wired in us. The friendships we've built over the years are those that re built with trust. If we violate those trusts we have nothing left, period.  

And so the story goes…
 
The reason she fired me – non-compatibility and lack of performance to office business standards. Thank God! That was one of the hardest days I've ever had to endure, but one of the happiest, too.

I still think of those customers who to this day are reeled in by the unethical business practices of that company. They think they are making wise decisions for their financial future. Instead they are being lead to the slaughter. They are being set up for sure failure; financial devastation looming on the horizon.

The sleep I get at night has enabled me to build a solid client base in my auto transport business. Honesty, integrity and ethical business practices are the foundation for our company.
 
Our clients come first and foremost. Sure there are guidelines and rules set by law. Everyone knows what they are and why they are in place. The rules are followed by all parties. Fair is fair. That makes for a healthy auto transport business.
 
I’m still using the best liquid vitamins and sharing them with all of my clients, truck drivers and other dispatchers too. Hey, everyone in auto transport needs good health to do a good job, right?

All I know is this. If you don’t have your health nothing else matters. If you are honest-hearted, you care and give to your customers 100%; then you can sleep at night. When you can wake up the next day to vibrant good health; and prosperity in your auto transport business that is what life is all about.
 
Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner

 
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