Archive for February 23, 2011

Nationwide Auto Transport And The New Puppy, Part Three

Nationwide Auto Transport and the New Puppy
 
(part one)                (part two)
 
 
Auto transport broker energized by training pup-
 
forget trying to be perfect – it will not happen…
 
Have you ever watched a puppy and then try to hold a serious conversation? I tried to remain serious while talking with nationwide auto transport customers on a daily basis.
 
However, that morning Dexter was dragging all of his toys into his bed. It really was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Finally, I gave in to the laughter building inside of me. If the puppy did something that made me laugh, I laughed. There was no use trying to be perfect as a vehicle-shipping expert.
 
One call was from a nationwide auto transport customer who shared her passion for boxers. She loved to adopt them from the local boxer rescue shelter. Her story was so interesting and fun. We even exchanged pictures of our office dogs. We still correspond to this day.
 
As the months rolled by and our puppy grew so did our auto transport broker business. I must admit that we both learned how to work around each others needs. He is a very patient loving puppy. I am still not sure who was training whom. Sometimes it was a toss up. When on the phone I would hold up one finger. He knew it would only be minutes and he would get his way.
 
Boxers have pent up energy, it kicked in daily. This dog was like the Energizer Bunny. At night, he was my entertainment. He was like one of those Greyhound dogs on a track. I am laughing right now just thinking back on those nights. I would soon learn that I was going to need his energy.
 
Dependable auto shippers get energized
 
Each day in the office was packed full of work to do. Auto transport quotes were top priority as that meant revenue for the following week. To serve each client we needed to be on top of our game every day. There was no time to be sick, not feel well or be sleepy.
 
Dexter set a good example for us. He was always up early, following the same routine daily. He was getting his body ready for the day. A quick run in the grass outside, followed by “taking care of business” put the spring in his step. This indicated his eagerness to get to breakfast, the most important meal of the day.
 
He never let me forget to give him the vitamin that nourished his growing body either. The icing on the cake was a fresh, clean bowl of water to wash it all down. Afterward he would saunter into the office, nudge my leg. He wanted a warm pat on the head and shoulder rub. Very satisfied he would then plop onto the rug and sleep the morning away as the phones continued to ring.
 
How did Dexter set the example for an auto transport broker? When the call volume is high, clients can be demanding. Dependable auto shippers, anxious for the next nationwide auto transport order knew we provided profitable business. I had to be full of vibrant, good energy to stay on top of my game. A cheerful hello is more inviting than a sullen one. When you feel good, it is easier to smile.  
 
By getting sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed, you wake up and pop out of bed ready to face your day. When you eat a good breakfast, you give your body what it needs to operate properly. I took good vitamins every day to maintain my energy and wellness long term. Even the smallest amount of exercise renewed my mind and body. Dexter was such a good example.
 
Our customers sometimes called in just to hear my voice and giggle. One customer called every few months just to check in, to see what was new in nationwide auto transport. Matter of fact, he called just today! Those key relationships have proven to be valuable assets to our vehicle transportation business.
 
Yes, Dexter and our vehicle shipping experts received the necessary auto transport training. Both were full of vibrant energy and able to care for the needs of customers without being perfect.
 
Stay tuned as his training continues just like our nationwide auto transport does.

Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner
Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. 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 other professionals in auto transport.
 
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Nationwide Auto Transport And The New Puppy, Part Two

Nationwide Auto Transport And The New Puppy, (part one)

 

Nationwide auto transport quotes…

Training begins…

Welcome back!
 
Sitting here writing the continuing story about our dog, I am watching as he contentedly snores in the doorway. Have you ever felt a love so deep that your heart aches? This love is the kind we have developed over the past six years. He is so loyal and loving. How could I have even thought of not keeping him?
 
While building our nationwide auto transport business from the comfort of our home office there were a few problems we had trying to take proper care of our puppy. Having had dogs all of my life I figured they would work out. Guess I had never had a boxer before. It seems boxers and their personalities are unique. They have a mind of their own. We were soon to realize that Dexter has a bull-headed personality. He also tends to be on the independent side. It created some stressful moments in the office. Now it was time for the training to begin.
 
It was now three months later. Time to begin house breaking him. No longer would newspapers in the bathroom work. His bladder held more than the newspaper could absorb. Holy smokes, could that dog drink and pee! This was also the beginning of a two-year long training period. I had no idea what it was going to entail to train this dog.
 
We found that by taking Dex to one area of the field it worked best. It also got the fastest results. To take him outside every half hour or so was not convenient or feasible. When there was a break in the calls coming in for auto transport quotes, I would scoop him up and hurry outdoors. We would run, jump and chase the ball. Trying to get him to potty quickly was not an easy chore. Dexter wanted to explore, chase the butterflies and sniff. The resource we found for “getting the job done” was a special spot in the field.
 
Finding and using resources worked the same for me in the nationwide auto transport business. By using the training I received for my vitamin company, I was able to build relationships. Those trainings would help me build a solid auto transport business years later. I worked to find reliable sources to help me within the industry. The auto transport quotes we could provide our client was faster and more solid because of these sources.
 
However, those resources were our carrier’s dispatchers, drivers and owners. They would become the cement that held our business together and the quality service we gave to our clients. We found that customers appreciated our connections. They would always return to use our services repeatedly. The relationships we have with our dependable auto shippers helped set our company apart.
 
Being different from other auto transport brokers in the marketplace is a good thing. It is fitting then that our dog, Dexter is different too. He has a built in time clock, it is remarkable how animals just know when it is time to play!
 
We soon realized that taking breaks to play and go outdoors was as good for us as it was for him. As I look back, I am very thankful to have him. It would have been very easy to work myself into the ground without him.
 
If we have you on the edge of your seat, come back next time for some more. More of the continuing story of Dexter, our office dog. See how we handle customer requests for auto transport quotes while OUR training continues.


Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. 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 other professionals in auto transport.
 
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Nationwide Auto Transport And The New Puppy

Nationwide auto transport quotes

Raising the new puppy.

As I was laying in bed the other night thoughts of Dexter, our pit bull – boxer entered my mind. I am not sure why the thoughts came rushing back this particular night. The movie playing in my head was comical though.
 
The pup was running full speed in a circle around our living room. As he geared up his little legs scrambled for traction on our new laminate flooring. As he slipped and slid, he would round the corner. Under the coffee table and through the end tables Dexter wound his way through the maze he used as his racetrack. It became a nightly ritual for our new pup, running at all out full speed until he dropped.
 
As I drifted off to sleep, I remember feeling my lips curl upward into a smile. I even remember slightly laughing aloud. He sure was a site to see.
 
Dexter came to us the same month we opened our nationwide auto transport business. I will admit I was not very happy about it. Like most parents, we did not choose Dexter. Our son received him as a gift from a co-worker and could not say no. He brought him home and handed him to me, all 5 pounds of him. Thinking back I should have put my foot down and said no, but just like us parents do…I did not.
 
Through all the kicking, screaming and denial my heart absolutely melted when I took the first look at his little face. He licked my nose and it was all over. Instant bonding took place that day. Little did I know that running a business would be like raising a puppy.
 
Get acquainted…
 
The biggest reason I did not want another dog was I knew it would be busy in the office. Answering phone calls for customers requesting auto transport quotes would take time. Puppies also take a tremendous amount of time to train the right way. There would be no time to play, house break him or show him the attention he would need.
 
There was also the issue of time to take him to get his puppy shots. We bought special puppy food because boxers get a lot of gas. Just like toddlers, puppies need toys to occupy their days.
 
Thinking about the sleepless nights ahead of me I cringed. I was thinking about the long hours I would be putting into working up the nationwide auto transport quotes. Why did I not put my foot down and say no to my son?
 
My husband and son both worked full time at jobs outside of the home. On the other hand, I was here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have ever owned a new puppy you know, the training period is crazy.
 
So began the development of our relationship. Up at 5 AM we would go outside together for his morning ritual of sniffing the grass. Running around like that was all we had to do was crazy. His legs were so short that the grass scratched his little belly. Whether it was pouring rain, or 115* outside, there we would be playing in the dark.
 
As the school bus drove by, the driver would honk and wave. All of the kids were smiling as if we were their entertainment. The parents driving carpools would stop and watch. Some of them even shouted out, "awe, how cute". Soon they would wave and off they would go to drop the kids at school.
 
Our day got started in the office after our first morning outing. Dexter and I both soon learned how to work together. The office guard puppy and the nationwide auto transport broker provided auto transport quotes to customers daily. He learned to lie on the rug in the doorway. I learned to take breaks, eat meals and love on my new companion while building my car shipping business.
 
Come back next time for the continuing story of Dexter, our office dog. See how customer requests for auto transport quotes and the puppy continue growing together.
 
Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. 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 other professionals in auto transport.
 
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How One Auto Transport Broker Avoided Credit Card Fraud

 
Auto transport broker avoids car ring…
 
Credit card fraud uses handicap relay.
 
It was a bright, sunshiny day as I started the coffee that morning. Splashing my face with warm water, running a brush through my hair I hurried to get into the office. The phones were already ringing off the hook and it was only 7 AM.
 
Slipping into my jeans I half jumped, half ran to grab the phone. It is so much easier to answer the call than to pull the messages later. It also is much better customer service to answer before the third ring. As I caught my breath and answered the call, the voice on the other end of the line caught me off guard.
 
Innocent operator assist in progress…
 
"This is the operator with XYZ Company. I have a relay assisted call for the owner of the company. Is he available"?
 
“Yes, I am the owner of Bullseye Auto Transport. How may I assist you today” was my reply. The operator apologetically began to relay questions to me on behalf of the transport customer.
 
I assumed he was either deaf or dumb because he could not speak to me personally. The process was tedious and time consuming. All the while, the phone continued to ring in my ear. Those customers left a message and I would call them back.
 
Excitement began to rise up within me. An order of this size would be very good for business. The operator read the typed message. The customer needed to move 24 cars, all mid-size sedans. He wanted them transported from point A to my terminal.
 
The customer wanted storage fees included in the auto transport quotes. Not being able to receive the shipment, he wanted to prepay using a credit card. I stopped the operator cold in her tracks.
 
I advised the customer that we do not store customer cars. We also do not accept credit cards to pay in full for a load of that size. Now I started to get a little suspicious.
 
It seemed that the customer was not reading the operator's text. He came back at me with yet more questions and requests. He totally took charge and was ignoring my reply. The next direction was to put an extra $1,500.00 on the credit card.
 
The relay continued. Please have the cashiers check mailed to them. Finally, they would send their company driver to my location to pick up the cars.
 
Yet again, I replied that we do not accept credit cards for a load of that size. We do not store customer’s cars at our terminal, nor do we put additional funds on a credit card. Still yet, we do not mail a check to the customer.
 
This cloak and dagger relay through the operator took place over sixty minutes. Finally I took control. When I advised the operator that it was evident the customer was not legitimate the line was disconnected. She advised me he had hung up and the call was finished.
 
Untrained auto transport broker learns hard way…
 
Let us go back to the beginning a moment. I want to share with you some of the warning signals I should have noticed but did not.
 
Regular customers who call for auto transport quotes are looking for information first. They normally have never shipped a car before. They do not know the terminology. Most car shippers do not know the steps involved in nationwide auto transport either. Therefore, a normal conversation will last anywhere from five to ten minutes max.
 
The majority of customers want to pay a deposit first. When delivering the car, the customer pays the balance to the driver. Cash on delivery is the preferred method of payment for nationwide auto transport.
 
In six years, we have only delivered to a storage terminal two times. Both were for legitimate customers who shipped a single car. Never would we ever charge more on a credit card than for services rendered. I can thank my banking background for that knowledge.
 
That was the first attempt to rip off an auto transport broker by the car ring. Thank goodness, I had learned the art of asking questions. By getting to the bottom of the real answers it saved our company money. It also saved a lot of heartache and our auto transport reputation.

Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. 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 other professionals in auto transport.
 
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Auto Transport Springs Up In Marketplace

 

Auto Transport Springs Up In The Marketplace…

Auto transport quotes spring into full swing when the snowbirds are ready to fly north.

As we turn the page of the calendar, we find it is almost time for the season to change once again. Each season is as unique as the blades of grass on the hillside. From year to year, they can change in length, weather patterns and auto transport routes too.

A broker can never really know or predict how the next season in nationwide auto transport will go. Snowbirds may decide to stay in their winter communities longer. Weather may force their move sooner, we just never know for sure.

One thing is for sure. When the snow starts melting and the blossoms emerge from their folds, it is time for auto transport quotes to spring up in the marketplace in full swing.

Gearing up for increase in nationwide auto transport…

After having a season of slow door-to-door transport, it is now time to get our heads back in the game of sending auto transport quotes. Having completed the customer thank you notes our thoughts now turn to making sure we get our fair share of the new business that is coming forth.

Having a sure fire system in place that works is key to our efficiency. By answering the phone calls promptly and politely, as they come in our service is above our competitor. Nothing is more frustrating than to call a company to do business with them and they never answer the phone.

Out of shear necessity, I have found that paperwork can wait until the calls simmer down. Serving the client is the number one priority, always. By preparing, handling the orders with a systematic flow makes it simple to keep up with the high demand of customer requests.

A critical part of our system

Have you ever made a phone call to customer service only to be placed on hold right away? How does that make you feel?

As a customer myself, I detest it when that happens to me. It makes me feel very unimportant and not appreciated. If I am on hold for over two minutes, I hang up and do not call back. I am busy just like our customers are.

The first rule we put into place in our office was how to answer the telephone. Here are three keys to incredible customer service that has set our company apart from our competitors.

  • Answer the phone by the third ring. If on a call do not put customer on hold, they are important!
  • Always speak in a pleasant tone, with a smile on your face. You may be the only person to make their day. Set the tone for the day, smile for them.
  • Speak the truth, even if it is not what the customer wants to hear. It is your job to educate your customer.

Small things that count

You might be thinking those are insignificant things. Some people might agree with you. However, what I have found over the years I have worked in customer service is this. Indeed the small things count.

Think about how annoyed you get when a phone continues to ring and ring and ring…on and on forever. What do you do? How long do you wait before hanging up? Do you try calling back again? If you are like me, they get one shot at earning my business. Customer service should always be the best they have to offer, the first time and every time.

People remember you for that smile coming through the phone. Did you know you can feel it when a person smiles?  The next calls you receive listen very carefully to the tone of the voice of the person on the other end of the line. You will be able to hear the mood that person is in. You will be able to hear if they like the job, if they are having a good or bad day.

Last but certainly not least by speaking the truth, you bring honor to your company and yourself. Nowadays lots of people want their ears tickled. They want to hear they are getting everything they want for the price they want.

The unsuspecting, untrained broker will do whatever they have to do to get their fair share of business in this season. Yes, they will even lie if they have to. However, by giving auto transport quotes incorrectly are they providing customer service? NO, they are not. When they allow customers to tell them how to do their job are they really doing them a favor? NO, they are not.

It is in everyone's best interest to tell the truth even if it means not getting the business the first time around. I cannot tell you how many customers have come back to us after two or three weeks begging us to help them. They always tell us they wish they had listened the first time. It would have saved them those headaches, stress and money.

By having a system that keeps our focus on our customer and their needs our service rises and shines above our competition. As the snow melts and the snowbirds fly, we are gearing up for increased auto transport quotes, are you?
 
Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. 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 other professionals in auto transport.
 
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Auto Transport – Is It For You?

Auto transport – is it for you?

As I debated about becoming an auto transport broker myself, I often wondered what type of person would be interested in auto transport. Only knowing one person involved in the business it was not an easy answer to find. However, within a few weeks my research found a variety of people who owned these types of businesses.

Part of my research involved making sure the business could be a profitable one. No one wants to sink money into something that will not produce a return. What I found is that regardless of the economy people will always continue to move. Children grow up. They go off to school, move across country, even get married and relocate. It only made sense that the market is one that will continue no matter what.

When putting all of the facts together, the auto transport business was a solid proposition. In the six years, since we opened our doors we have enjoyed all the rewards of working for ourselves. From freedom to travel to the limitless income potential, it was the right decision for us.

Have you been looking for a rewarding, challenging career change? Maybe starting an auto transport business is for you, too.

These brokers are just like you and me.

One particular woman is an ex-waitress. She desired to get off her feet and work from home. We have since become friends and she has been instrumental in my accumulation of a wealth of knowledge.

Businesspersons from diverse industries seemed to be attracted to auto transport as well. Some were self-employed while others were corporate employees looking for a way out.

There was yet another part of the work force that wanted to realize freedom too. A mom of three young children who was a full time student while working full time, too. She was looking for a way to work from home, be with her kids and be able to finish school without killing herself.

Another broker was a truck driver and his wife. They bought an existing brokerage for his wife to run while he was on the road. She was able to keep his truck loaded with cars. In addition, she scheduled her own clients with trucks who ran different routes than her husband.

Everyone had a few things in common. They were all willing to invest in their education and their future. They were willing to work hard and learn as they built their business. All of them had the desire to have the freedom to work when they wanted to. It was very important to them all to be able to work from anywhere. They could still serve their client whether it was in the office or on vacation. Last but certainly not least they all wanted "no ceiling" on the income they could earn.

Is it a money making proposition?

There are no guarantees when building a business. Being a business owner is nothing like being an employee. In order to make money in business we must show up and give it 110% every day, without exception. There will be difficulties, this is how we learn and grow.

What I have come to learn is that you take it as it comes. One month you may be busier than a bee. The next month you might be able to catch your breath and relax a bit. During this time, you will be able to catch up filing, send thank you cards and balance the books.

We had to adopt the attitude of take it while the getting is good and save for that rainy day. Some seasons of the year are flat out crazy busy. This usually occurs from about mid-February through August when the kids go back to school.

Other seasons are very slow. This time of year, we learned to relax, maybe take that long awaited vacation. It takes planning your finances though or you can spend every last dime. Then you could find yourself in a pickle come the "relaxing season".

One thing is for sure. Auto transport can be a money-making business. You can learn how to become an auto transport broker; and with the right attitude, coach and determination you can work from the comfort of your home office. You can succeed in building a profitable business in auto transport.

PS. we love hearing your thoughts, share your comments below…