"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

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