Archive for December 29, 2010

“The Auto Transport Broker” and Sherlock Holmes

"The Auto Transport Broker" and Sherlock Holmes…

"The auto transport broker" and Sherlock Holmes have lots in common. Each must question their client extensively. To do the job right both must dig deep for true answers.

What do you suppose would happen if Sherlock Holmes accepted only the first answer to a question? Surely the crime suspect wouldn't give up the "truth" right off the bat would they? Of course not. Admitting the truth could lead to the suspect being found guilty of a crime.

The same could be said of an "auto transport broker" and their customer. If the customer only vaguely answered the "auto transport broker" questions it might get them the best price. However, it might lead to a whole mess of trouble down the road.

How so? Let's take a look at how an "auto transport broker" and Sherlock Holmes are very similar. The answers may shock you.

The "auto transport broker" is first point of contact…

With the broker being the first contact in the auto transport business, it is up to them to obtain as much information as possible. A few necessary pieces of information would be the customers name, where they want the car picked up at and delivered to. Seems fair, right?

What if the customer gave the vehicle information but left out some sort of important detail? It would seem reasonable that to ship a car the broker would need to know the year, make and model of the car. Each year's model is slightly different. It could be manufactured of different material which could make the weight different. Another point might be the dimensions of the car. A single manufacture year could change the model length by up to several inches or more.

Do you suppose that would really make any difference?

Another important point could be if the vehicle runs or not. If you are like I used to be, you are wondering why that would matter. Don't the trucks have those chains they hook on and pull the cars onto the truck? Yes, they do have "winches". But, cars that don't run cause a lot more work for the truck driver.

So, you see there is more to being an  "auto transport broker" than simply getting a little bit of information from the customer.  You have to become like Sherlock Holmes and really ask questions of your customers to avoid what could be BIG trouble later.

The "auto transport broker" and the truck driver…

You're probably wondering what could possibly be BIG trouble with shipping a car that doesn't run? I thought the same thing before I had a frustrated truck driver call me one afternoon.

After interviewing a customer one day we were able to book the order. This shipment was for an inoperable (in-op) classic car. These cars are big, heavy and usually sitting out in a pasture somewhere. The rain, snow and weather have usually rusted most of the body of the car. For the most part the tires are flat and of no use; but, the driver and shipper work through those sort of issues.

As a broker I've learned that there are never too many questions you can ask. Each shipment is different, just like each customer is different. With inoperable vehicles we always ask if the car will run on it's own power. If the answer is no, then the next question is will it roll, steer and brake?

With this particular shipment I did exactly that. My shipper was an owner of a junk-yard who had sold this classic hunk of junk on the internet. His answers were perfect and I was able to dispatch the order to one of our preferred carriers.

The lesson I was about to learn as a broker I will never forget. As I write this for all of you to see…I'm still laughing just remembering the conversation with my friend, the truck driver.

Truck driver versus junk-man…

Sometimes it doesn't pay to think. Now, before you go off thinking I'm some sort of nut case…let me explain.

It's been said that one man's definition of something isn't always another man's exact definition. In the case of this old, inoperable classic car this was the case.

Remember I said I asked the customer if the car would roll, steer and brake? Well, the customer – the junk-man – indeed verified that the car would roll, it would steer and yes, it would brake.

When my truck driver arrived at the site, located the car to be loaded and shipped his next step was to call me, the broker. His voice was a bit agitated, speaking louder than usual he began asking me questions.

"What is your definition of steer", he asked. Thinking he was smoking something I laughed and asked him what he meant. To make a long story short…yes, indeed the car would steer…if the steering wheel were attached!

The junk-man handed the driver the steering wheel and said if he could attach it they could help him push the car to the truck for loading. The car did roll, on flat tires that nearly fell apart while rolling. As for the brakes…well, let's just say thank goodness truck drivers carry wooden blocks. The driver never loads old classics near a newer car and for good reason. The braking of this old car was the car in front of it!

So, my friend the truck driver and I still to this day get a laugh thinking about that old classic car. But, I learned a very valuable lesson that day. One driver's definition of roll, steer and brake is not necessarily that of the junk-man.

The auto transport broker needs to always strive to interview like Sherlock Holmes…question after question until we know the truth and nothing but the truth about shipping each car in great detail.


Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

PS – we'd love to hear your thoughts, remember sharing is caring…leave your comments below

“Build Your Own Business” or Risk Getting a Job

To "build your own business" or risk getting a job has been the question for decades.
Parents are asking their children if they want to "build your own business" or risk getting a job. With reports of corporate downsizing, relocating and "going out of business”, security is a very obscure word.
Many are turning to other alternatives like to start their own business. Something they are passionate about, maybe even to work from home.
Baby boomers like me are looking at retirement creeping in with no real security in sight. Social Security benefits are a real scary issue for those depending on it as their sole source of income.
Thinking on the many dilemmas facing many today made me think of my grandparents. How they took their future security into their own hands many years ago by starting their own business.
A few things I remember Grandpa sharing with me.
One of those things was about the American dream; to "build your own business". You see, grandpa had had many jobs. He was in sales, worked in the fields and finally he landed a "good job" for the Navy. Grandpa was a civilian machinist working at Mare Island in Vallejo, CA.
Grandpa never gave up his dream of being a business owner though. In fact, while he worked away from home building ships and gunnery, grandma was working to build their own security at home.
Grandpa loved wine
So naturally, he soon owned a "rootstock" vineyard.
The vision my grandparents had for their own business kept them focused. Their goals inspired them to do the day-to-day tasks in the fields. It did not matter if it rained, snowed or was 115 degrees in the baking sun; they had to show up and work.
Part of their dream was to be able to share that spirit with their family. All of my siblings and I were involved in the workings of business from its early beginning in the mid 1960's. We all learned what it took to make business profits.
My grandparent’s rootstock nursery was one of only two in the whole state. Their product was high quality rootstock. That quality stock helped the wine makers develop high producing vineyards. The vineyard owners would take grandpa's rootstock sticks and "graft" them together with different varieties to develop new ones. Although I was too young to understand the whole process, I certainly learned the beginning steps to "build your own business".
Early mornings and back breaking work was not easy. The pay was not that great by standards today. My starting wages…a whopping $.25 an hour! However, I was only in grammar school and back then (;) yes I am in my 50's) that was great spending money for a kid! My mom earned a modest $1.20 an hour.  Any extra money earned back then helped with essentials needed in the household of seven.
Basic ideas have not changed, but mindset has…
Although 30 plus years has gone by since working in the fields with my mom and grandparents, the basic idea to build your own business has not changed. My mindset was not on the right path was all, I was afraid of failing.
I had worked in corporate America for most of those years. The work ethic grandpa taught helped me to rise quickly within each company I worked with. Each promotion brought more responsibility along with the increased paycheck. You could also say who I am today was formed by those years of learning. 
Like many others, I thought my career at the bank was secure. Thinking it would provide solid retirement benefits for my golden years. Then in 1985, the banking industry started changing, centralizing operations. I found myself being demoted. By the time childcare was paid for I would have paid the bank to allow me to work there. Sound familiar?
The decision to leave the bank and work from home was one of the best decisions I ever made. My mindset changed and for the better.
The security that was sold to many others and me? After ten years with that bank, my retirement payout was a whopping $200! Is security real or is it a lie attached to a gold ball and chain?
There were twists and turns during those formative years. Nevertheless, well worth the time spent to learn. What was the biggest lesson learned? There is no such thing as a "secure job" within corporate America.
Thank you Grandpa…
I remember as a young child not liking grandpa very much at times. I thought he was mean for making me work. He taught us not only how to work, but how to take pride in what we produced.
"Do it once and do it right", he would say with a stern voice. We learned how to watch out for our fellow worker and protect the crop that put food on the table.
Many a weekend I wanted to go play with my friends instead of standing on my head in the fields. However, it was the family business. Not only was pride involved but grandma and grandpa's future security was at stake.
Today I thank my parents and grandparents for working side by side in the family business with me. Not just telling me what to do, but also showing me how to do each task. By setting the example themselves they helped form the work ethic necessary to "build your own business" today. Nothing is expected, it is always earned.
Sure there are still days I would rather go play with my grandchildren. I have been able to "live my life, on my terms" by owning my own auto transport business. When we work, work smart so we do not have to work hard as I did in the vineyard fields.
To grow a thriving auto transport brokerage does take work, there is no denying that. Developing relationships with customers, other brokers, truckers and dispatchers is part of the job.
Fully serving them in their time of need without thinking about ours is what has set us apart from the rest. By focusing on the customers, an amazing thing has happened in our business. Our needs have always been met and then some.

So the next time someone says "take a job with benefits" or "build your own business"; stop. Really, think about what risking security means to you.

Invest into your life, your future, your family. "Build your own business" for the security and future of your family.
Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
PS. Remember, caring is sharing. Leave your comments below…

“Shipping Your Next Car”…It’s Not Like Ordering Pizza

"Shipping your next car"…it's not like you are ordering pizza! Be careful…

"Hello, thank you for calling Bullseye Auto Transport. How may I help you"? This is the typical greeting our customers hear when they call in to get information about "shipping their next car".

What comes next is often a surprise because of the untruths that people tell about shipping cars.     This could be looked at as job security for an auto transport broker I suppose. Sometimes though the information people tell others is comical if not down right hysterically funny.

When you ship a car it's far from the simple task of ordering a take out meal. Take pizza for example. When you order pepperoni and sausage, that's what you get. Want extra cheese, it's extra cheese you'll get. This isn't the case when shipping your car across the nation, or even overseas.

Without pulling punches, let's look at the true services offered when "shipping your next car" with door to door service.

Have you ever wondered what the term "door to door" means?

By definition in the Webster's Dictionary, the word door means "An opening in the wall of a house or of an apartment, by which to go in and out; an entrance way".

By that definition "door to door" would mean from one opening in the wall of a house or of an apartment to another, right?

In the typical shipping sense that is how any one product we purchase gets to us. The manufacturer sends it to the order department. The order department prepares the order and sends it to the shipping department. It is then on it's way to our doorstep.

When you are "shipping your next car" remember it is not typical freight.

First of all the "freight" in question is your car. Your car can not be shipped to your door in the literal sense, right? (I know I'm being funny here, wink wink) But, many people think their car can be shipped just like a pair of mail order jeans…right to their front door.

Really though there are numerous reasons this is just not so. First of all the car hauling equipment is huge. Have you ever gotten up close to one of those tractor trailer's fully loaded with ten cars?

Some of the trucks and trailers measure 80 feet long or better! The height limit is 14 feet and their total weight limits all differ. One particular driver we interviewed said his truck measures 80 feet nose to tail. The highest point on the truck with cars on the top rack is 14 feet. His gross load weight is never over 80,000 pounds.

Different states, cities and governmental sectors have varying laws dictating what, where and when large trucks can run. The size, weight and purpose of the truck determines if they can enter a residential area or not.

The driver of the truck is liable for any damage done to a car being shipped. If the streets are tree lined with low hanging limbs…he won't go there. Why? If one scratch appears on a car, he has to pay for it. He needs to clearly focus on his mission and the safety of all. You wouldn't want your car scratched up, would you?

If it's not right to my door, then what does that mean?

Since we have determined that this type of service is not literal; let's look at the real definition of what "door to door" means in car shipping.

When a broker tells you that your car will be shipped door to door; what they are telling you is this. Once your car is picked up and loaded by the driver it will remain on the same truck and trailer until it is delivered.

The driver will get his equipment as close as he can to your "location". He will also deliver it to the closest possible "location" nearest your desired address.

With so many laws, restrictions and equipment limitations he is doing the very best job he can on your behalf. The driver is responsible for his truck, trailer, and your car. His responsibility also includes nine other customer's cars, other drivers on the road and their passengers, pedestrians and any personal property in his way.

So, if anyone tells you an 80 foot truck and trailer can get right to your front door…keep searching for someone who knows what they are talking about. Search for a professional to assist you in "shipping your next car" using professional door to door service.

Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

PS we'd love to hear your thoughts. leave your comments below.

“Choose Auto Transport Services – Why Drive”

"Choose auto transport services – why drive"…

Have you ever pondered why some drive when moving and others hire someone in auto transport?

Well, you are not the only one.

This past weekend I traveled to Texas for a business seminar. I came out of the training and found I had learned something far different than I thought.

The flight home gave me a completely new perspective on why people would want to use auto transport services. I took for granted the speed and ease at which we can get from one place to another.

Have you ever really thought about the difference in the mode of travel and the time each takes? Let me share with you the lesson I learned flying home.

Why more people do not just drive their cars when they move.

Apparently, I live in the stone ages or the back woods in northern California (laughing myself silly). The day of pulling a car on a U-Haul trailer behind you is long gone. Why? Because it is expensive, time-consuming and exhausting.

Now "time" is money. When customers are moving for their job, the company wants them there like NOW. By the time they sell their home and pack their belongings, they are tired. Who wants to face a four day, or longer slow drive?

Next, they get the kids checked out of school and ready for the move. Can you imagine a three to four day drive with anxious kids in the car? Vacation is one thing. However, if those kids are anything like I used to be as a teenager…they do not want to move.

On the return flight from Dallas, the weather was perfect. Clear, sunny skies allowed the jet to sail through the skies like a knife cutting through soft butter. In all of my years traveling, I had never experienced such clear skies.

Watching the landscape far below us was incredible. From the tree spotted land of Texas to the blowing sands of the desert in Arizona, each was beautiful in its own right. As we neared Sacramento and home we flew over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I had no idea of the multitude of high mountain lakes. The crystal blue waters winked at me through the deep, vibrant evergreen trees nestled in the crisp white snow below.

I have driven through those mountains many times but never seen their entire majesty until now. The canyons are deeper than I have ever imagined. Their snow-capped peaks rise up sparkling, reflecting the sun shining down upon them.

Then it hit me!

It took me two and a half hours to drive from my home to the airport in Sacramento. Another three hours in an airplane and forty minutes on a shuttle and I was in downtown Dallas, Texas. The whole trip took six hours and I was half way across the U.S.!

If I were to drive, it would take me days to get there. I would be exhausted and grumpy from the long road trip. There would be hotel bills and eating out for at least two meals a day. With the price of gasoline these days I am sure it would cost hundreds of dollars; especially pulling a car behind me.

On the contrary; when a customer's car is picked up in northern California and delivered to Dallas, TX it takes about four to five days. With the car safely loaded on the truck, they can catch a plane and within hours be to their destination. All of their energy in tact they can use it to get settled into their new home, start their new life.

Imagine… they can be exhausted, broke and stressed out. Or on the other hand, they can have vibrant energy to settle in, saving money for those new furnishings and ready to meet new neighbors for a cocktail.

It is their call… they can choose to move their car with auto transport services instead of pulling it behind them!

This is the beauty of being able to offer auto transport services to people on the move.

Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

p.s. love to hear your thoughts, leave comments below

“Ultra-Mobile Auto Transport”

"Ultra-mobile auto transport" pays off when you have a growing family.

When I decided to work from home there were many things that made it attractive. As my auto transport home based business was in the beginning stage a key factor was the freedom to work from anywhere I wanted to; being mobile was important.

Previously when I worked at the bank taking time off was not easy. If you wanted vacation time, you had to choose your dates in January. Other time off was out of the question. I don't know many people who plan that far ahead of time, do you? We usually planned our trips at the last minute. When the mood strikes…we would go (wink, wink).

As the kids grew up and left home it got harder and harder to find time to travel to visit them. As the grand babies started arriving it became more important that we have time to spend with them. I didn't want to have to choose – a visit with family or a vacation for hubby and me. Time is precious and not unlimited…we needed to be able to have our cake and eat it too!

The solution? To work from home enabled me to leave the office and still work no matter where I was. I could travel whenever I wanted to. If my kids needed something or someone…me (smile), we could just pack up the car and go.

"Ultra-mobile auto transport" and a new grand baby…

This year our newest grandson arrived mid-November. Because our auto transport business is home-based, we are mobile. We packed up the laptop, forwarded the phones and off we went. We packed for a week taking the warmest jackets we own. 

The excitement of the new baby clouded our judgment. We didn't even think about it being mid-November…winter was almost here! Living in California winter is usually rainy and cool, not cold. Our daughter and family live in Idaho where the winters are cold, but not usually unbearable. The long range forecast didn't indicate any problems, so off we went.

If you have grandchildren then you know what happens to all common sense. Of course Mother Nature doesn't pay attention to the long range forecasters nor what we think. All we could think about was the new baby and the chance to be with our grandchildren again.

Weather and business have a common thread…

Being in the auto transport business for myself has taught me many a lesson. One of the biggest lessons has been…change is imminent. You must go with the flow. Taking one day at a time helps you to deal with the minute by minute changes. Little did we know how this lesson would test us to the max one more time.

Our trip up through the back country of California was beautiful. The fall colors resembled those we'd seen on a show about the Northeast on the PBS station earlier.

As we entered Oregon and Idaho each had it's own unique landscape and color scheme for the season, too. Driving and chatting all we could think about were those darling little faces of our grandchildren and the surprise on mommy's face! We hadn't announced our visit to them…we were just going to show up!

Having the ability to pack up and go while working from your cell phone has it's advantages. As long as I could get a signal, I took phone calls. Knowing the seasonal rates helped. I could quote certain routes with my eyes closed. Other, off the wall routes I called back when I had the aide of my trusty laptop.

The surprise was on us!

Our first week in Idaho was awesome. Reconnecting with the kids was so much fun. Feeling the shallow breath of the newborn on my neck was precious. We instantly bonded (smile). 

Soon we settled into the kid's routine. Answering dispatch and client calls fell in between breakfast, lunch and dinner prep. There was lots of time to watch their favorite movies…Toy Story 3 and Cars…can't beat a cute movie and grandchildren.

As orders came in I was able to type them up and find an available carrier right away. The days flew by and before we knew it our week was almost gone.

Then it happened…

The late night news weatherman announced the storm of the decade was due within 24 hours. There was no time to prepare, no time to get out of the area. We had to relinquish our plans of leaving for home to staying put at my daughters home.

Normally I wouldn't have given it a second thought. But, I had a business meeting scheduled in Dallas, TX with Sandi Krakowski at A Real Change International. There was no time to change those plans, nor the flight. I had to get home.

Weather became the topic and talk of the day. Mother Nature was not cooperating. Each day brought more challenges and change.We had a choice…either relax and enjoy or fight it and get all stressed out.

Our one week trip turned into 17 days. We loved being with the kids. We got to watch the baby change every day. He filled out, lost his umbilical cord, got circumcised and went to his first check up. In his first two weeks he gained a pound and went up a size in clothes. We never got to experience that with the others.

I had work to get done that required quiet, focus and time. But with four grandchildren and four adults in the house cooped up for over a week…it was time to just relax and have fun. Thankful that my business is mobile I was able to take advantage of this extra time with my family.

What did love, patience and business teach me?

Everyone who has children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews fully knows the love that swells in your heart. The pull those kids have is amazing.

Sure we have to work to support our little ones. But, part of that support is love and patience, too. When change comes, whether through business or the weather how we react determines how our kids will react.

Just because I didn't have the chance to return home on the schedule I had planned I could have gone off the deep end. The old Carla would have…all work and no play. I would have stressed myself out. Not being able to have the alone time to write would have pushed me over the edge.

Instead, the love for those babies swelled my heart to near capacity. I was able to journal a little, the best I could. It paid off – I took orders and dispatched the freight…as I could. My priority – my family and enjoying every minute with them…work came second.

You know what? By being mobile, keeping my priorities straight I came home one fulfilled grammy and the money in the bank increased, too. We all got plenty of rest, ate right, took our vitamins and had lots of fun together.

So, if you are a home based business owner like me or want to cash in like I have; take a tip from me…you only live once. Relax, go with the flow and work your business like we do our "ultra-mobile auto transport" with patience and love.

Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

p.s. love to hear your thoughts, remember caring is sharing….leave your comments below.