Hot August Nights, Fast Cars, Good Friends & An Auto Transport Broker

Perks for an auto transport broker ~

Hot August Nights, fast cars & good friends

All work and no play is a recipe for disaster

Sometimes for a person like me, Type A personalities, work can all but consume us. The thrill of the sale or order is all we need to fly high the whole daylong. Auto transport, dispatching or selling vitamins all give the same rush to us after helping someone get what they want.

As a business owner we have always been on top of our game, whether we felt like it or not. Putting forth our best foot and smile shows the prospective customer the heart of our company.

How then, do you get it all done successfully? How do you serve your customers, owner-operators, dispatchers while still living a happy home life? We used to ask ourselves that very question. We found a way to "balance out" as it were our life between the office and home. Would you like to know how we did it?

Give 100% focused effort while working

It is simple when you work for yourself to give it all you have. I suppose some might question that statement. However, for me…it is a no brainer. If we do not serve our prospective client, then we will not make the sale or book the order. When that happens the company makes zero dollars. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that zero dollars over time will eventually slam the door shut on the business, right.

What worked for our auto transport business from the start was to treat it just as though we had a storefront on Main Street. Set office hours helped to push me on the days I just did not feel like working. Have you ever gone to work only to feel "out there" all day long; feeling like you are off in la la land somewhere?

Our regular hours, a to-do-list and having a burning desire to make something of myself kept my focus on what I needed to do each day. Part of that focus included having conversations with other brokers in the industry. Remember, relationships are one of my deep-seated strengths and working beside my colleagues was no different. It makes sense to draw on your friend's bank of knowledge to increase your own, does it not.

Play hard, play often with friends

Back in 2008, a friend and I were talking one particularly slow day. Cathy had received an advertisement in the mail for the biggest classic car event in the western part of the U.S.A., Hot August Nights. This major event is in Reno, Nevada each year in August, thus it's name. We read the flier together and daydreamed awhile.

We talked about how cool it might be to rent a booth and promote our auto transport broker businesses. Yes, we were and still are competitors within the same industry – we are both owners of an auto transport brokerage. With literally thousands of car buffs in attendance, this would be a perfect opportunity to highlight our services. We only saw one problem, money! It was very expensive to rent to booth space, be out of the office a whole week and rent a hotel room on top of that.

It took about a week of bantering back and forth but finally we decided to go for it. Putting our heads together, we came up with an idea to raise the money! We would solicit our preferred carriers for donations. In return, we would print their company information on our fliers, on our banner and advertise their services as our preferred drivers. It worked like a charm.

And they are off…

The day came for Cathy and me to travel to Reno. With the car loaded for bear, we set off across the Sierra Nevada mountain range excited as a pair of teenagers. 

The four-hour drive whizzed by as we chatted about everything from our kids to the promotion of our businesses lying ahead. Soon we arrived at our hotel to check in. Exhausted yet excited we settled into our home away from home. Then it was off to the fairgrounds to check in and set up our booth for the first day of the car show.

We were so excited to have reserved a booth inside the air-conditioned building. The temperature in Reno during the month of August was HOT! It did not take long and between the two of us, our booth came together as we had envisioned it. Voila! 

Long week full of work, fun and classic car nuts…
 
There cannot possibly be anyone more focused on cool cars than the men and women who buy old hunks of junk and restore them to something so beautiful. These pieces of yesteryear are some of the unique, beautiful pieces of art in the world. The sound of the rumbling engines, the feel of the exhaust systems reverberating inside the building was so intense there were times we could not hear ourselves think.

Beside our booth was a young entrepreneurial couple selling jewelry created piece by piece in Bali by locals. Steve and Jessica were the perfect neighbors and we had a great time getting to know their story, learn about their passion and goals for their business. Yes, I came home the proud owner of several pieces of their unique line of jewelry and still wear them today.
 
By the way, when you are self-employed, you do not simply shut down your business to go play, well at least we do not. Cathy and I set up a system to work the booth one at a time. This way one of us could be in the back working up our prospects requests for their auto transport quotes. Our system paid off, as both of us were able to book, schedule and dispatch several orders during our stay in Reno. Our businesses grew, prospered while we worked outside the office and had fun.
 
Cathy and I had a blast working and playing together that week in Reno, Nevada at Hot August Nights. We worked our booth from 8 AM to 6 PM each day then would take a break for dinner. If it were not for my vitamins I am not sure how on Earth I would have kept up the pace the whole week! Refreshing and rejuvenating our body we then headed uptown for entertainment including car watching, people watching and of course Gelato!
 
As our week ended our memories of that week's work did not. Regardless of the activity in our respective offices, Cathy and I could reminisce about a unique and fun way to advertise our broker services. To top off an awesome, fun week there was icing on the cake. Several of our sponsors invited us to dinner. These were our preferred owner-operators who were there to transport the classic cars purchased during the week's event.
 
Remember, work hard when you work; play hard when you play and always surround yourself with like-minded friends, family and colleagues. There you have it my friend; this is how we managed to balance our work with our life.

Join us won't you? We need your help to spread the word about these lessons. If you have learned anything at all from our story, send a tweet to your Twitter friends; drop a short post to your FaceBook friends. You can bet they will enjoy and learn right beside 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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  • Karen Brooks

    Carla,
    Brilliant marketing!!! Sounded like fun as well.

  • Denny

    Balance is the key! I couldn’t agree more! What a brilliant marketing idea at the auto show Carla! Great post!

    • admin

      Thanks, Denny. I can only take partial credit. It took both of us putting our creative minds together to come up with our plan. It was fun, it was the hardest work I’ve done and it was educational to boot! I had no idea how many different classic cars there were. It also gave me a visual of how large those older cars are and heavy, this helps when I am working up my customer’s quotes.

  • Anonymous

    Carla, you’re the only person I know who can balance work and fun at the same time so beautifully! Sounds like it was a great week.

    Lily 🙂

    • admin

      Thanks, Lily. I learned from the best and she taught me to really be where I am. So, if I am at an event for work, why not put my all into it and have fun, too! The same goes when I’m with my grand-babies…if we are at the park playing and someone starts up a conversation I roll with it and turn it into a new customer for energy or staying well…even grandma’s need extra energy, right? Just be in the moment and life is a blast.

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