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.
Carla Gardiner is a wife, mom and grammy. She is on a mission to positively impact people's lives with truths untold about living life better, looking good, feeling good and doing good. Carla has written as The Fiery Grandma since 2010 and this title describes her personality perfectly!
There is so much peace and comfort in owning your own business, especially for us mom’s and grandma’s who want to be there for our family… or to take those vacations when they come up! Freedom is precious – it is worth getting the knowledge and investing in ourselves to have this liberty of working from home! Thanks for sharing, Carla… you are a great leader!
Carla, bravo. I admire for what you stand for. You have the experience, integrity and ‘heart’ that the industry is lacking.
That’s pretty amazing. In addition, do I understand that you are going to be showing people how to set themselves up in the auto transport broker business? If it’s set up right and the right level of service is provided, I would imagine it could be an interesting work-from-home business!
Awesome post! It is truly appealing, if one is passionate about the work the individual is doing then there is no scope for it being menial or boring or whatever. A business is where you are the boss and you are the slave, no bossiness stuff.
I learned something new! I had no clue what a “snow bird” was before this. In addition, great tips about budgeting. Sometimes I get my head in so many places; I have to remind myself to get back to basics. After all, I cannot expect God to bless me with more if I do not properly manage what is already in my hand. GREAT ARTICLE!