Friday, August 24, 2012

The recruitment speech I would love to give

A few weeks ago we had what is now a new record for shortest time with MTB. A new guy who seemed to have it all together emailed the morning after his first day to say he wouldn't be coming in that morning. He cited "mental health reasons" which I won't go into. Not "I'm hurting." Not "I'm sick." Just: "I can't handle it."

"But," he said, "I can make it in by noon if that helps."

So, he's gone. We needed to find more guys.

We invited 11 new candidates in for an unprecedented group interview and screening. 11 guys were invited, four showed up. Of those, only one had a valid driver's license. For a driving job.

We invited three more guys to a similar interview situation yesterday. One showed up. He may make the cut.

After the new guy with the "mental health reasons" bailed on his second day of work, a rant began forming in my mind. This is the gist of it, although somewhat edited to get a PG rating. Think of it in the vein of Alec Baldwin's phenomenal performance in Glengary Glen Ross. This is the speech I would love to give in the first round of interviews -- the group interview phase. 

I realize it may come off as arrogant, condescending, short-tempered, etc. Maybe it is. I'll work to improve my attitude, read more books by leadership gurus, and maybe realign my chakras at an ashram somewhere. Until then, new recruits are likely to get some variation of this orientation speech:

The Recruitment Speech I'd Love to Give 

Cartoon credit: the late master Gary Larson.

Here's what I want from you: hard work, honesty, integrity, reliability, punctuality and sincerity. If you don't know what any of these things mean, you are now dismissed. 

For those of you who remain, if you think those words are just placeholders for "I really need a job," you are also dismissed. Do not leave your resumes by the door.

Give me these things and you can make a living doing this. I will give you the opportunity to rise, to "get in at the ground level," as they say. No, this will never be the next Apple or Microsoft, but look at it this way: In five years we've more than doubled gross revenue every year. RIGHT NOW, we have to turn away more than 30 customers every summer weekend. Sometimes far more than that. That's potentially tens of thousands of dollars we can't earn -- right now, today -- because we simply don't have the men to do the jobs.

I see you shifting in your seats. You're eager. You're beginning to see the opportunity here. Maybe you're thinking that this, finally, is what you've been waiting for lo these many years.

Stop right there. I built this thing from a few hundred bucks and a whole lot of desperation and terror. I also  "waited" for opportunity to present itself. It never did because after I put in my obligatory hours in my day job, I went home and sat on the couch. Okay, I also drank a lot of beer. And I cursed the universe for not giving me a chance to shine.

The universe responded by giving me a lot of responsibility, and suddenly, no income. I ground it out day after day after day. There's no system. There's no miracle. There's no magic pill.

It's. All. Hard. Work.

I've paid my dues. I continue to pay my dues by making the tough decisions daily, tearing my kids off of me every morning as they cry for Daddy to stay home, and watching my wife put on a brave face as she prays for the strength to get through another 18-hour day with three kids by herself. So here's the deal: I'm not about to let some lazy, amoral, no integrity, no character son-of-a-bitch jeopardize what I've built. I've sweat, bled (numerous times), cried, gotten beat down by rising costs and regulations. It's beginning to pay off. Until this moment, it's been a learning curve. Going forward, we have a very real, very do-able chance at glory.

In other words, don't waste my time. If I schedule you for a 9:00 AM interview, 9:00:01 is late. This is a job ruled by the clock. This is your first test. It's pass/fail.

I don't trust you yet. Don't take it personally -- It's not because of you, but because of too many guys who came before you: the whiners, the big talkers, the guys who present themselves well in the interview, only to go AWOL on day one, leaving me with no one to do the jobs the customers entrusted us to do. A few have tried to steal from me and therefore would, in all likelihood, steal from our customers too. The one thing they all have in common? They're "fast learners," "hard workers," "take direction well," and "want to use their considerable skills in a dynamic work environment."

I've learned that it's all talk until you successfully pull a ten-hour shift in 100+ degree weather for two straight weeks. So, no offense, but you have to walk the walk before I believe your talk.

Do not bitch at me about hours if you do nothing to generate them. When I started this thing, I put ads on Craigslist and flyers in coffee shops. I used every minute of my downtime to generate leads. I taught myself basic web design. I learned about email marketing and database development. In the beginning, I started with one job. A while later I got three in a week. Then four, then eight, and so on. Eventually the business generated enough referrals based on goodwill to sustain itself without Craigslist and flyers.

So don't come around here complaining that you're not being handed a nice, easy, profitable schedule. If you want to work more, step up.

You want a comfortable, 40-hour work week you can schedule your life around? Great, so do I. But it's not going to happen in this industry. Besides, we just ground through some of the toughest, hottest weeks in MTB's history, and the veterans who came close to 40 hours almost died. You can't handle 40 hours yet.

This is not easy work, so don't expect to put in your time and get a paycheck. This industry requires people to push beyond physical discomfort. There's no time to put it off until you "feel like it." The job gets done, right now, today, or there are real consequences. MTB takes it farther -- the bare minimum is excellence. You push yourself to the limit and do it with a smile. No exceptions.

I better know everything about you before I hire you. Do NOT tell me 30 minutes before your first job that you have to get to an AA meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00.

Steal from me or my customers? We won’t go to the police. I will hurt you.

Lie to me? You can’t. One way or another, I'm going to find the truth.

Break something—you pay for it.

Want a raise? Earn it. I don’t believe in giving raises just because someone needs the money. When I don't have to worry if you'll show up, or if you'll even bother to call in if you even THINK you're going to be late or sick or something, and when the guys beg to have you on their crew, and the customers mention you by name, we'll talk. Until then, you're on probation.

If your smoking, drinking or lifestyle keep you from performing as well or better than your team, time to hit the road.

In the beginning, I'll give you my word, but you have to earn my respect and friendship.

I don't care what you've done or who you've worked for. This is Day One of the rest of your life. Lose the attitude.

Like I said -- it's not personal. This comes from experience; experience gained through the naive application of such values as trust and optimism. When you go by a man's word alone, you risk getting burned. I have. Many, many times.

So, for those of you still here, here's what you can expect from me:

If you at least give it your best shot, I will work with you. If you're here on time, ready to rock & roll, I'll notice, and I'll give you more opportunity than you can handle. If you turn those opportunities into successes, I'll do whatever I have to to keep you here and interested.

If you have an unquestionable record of integrity, honesty and rightly directed ambition, I'll back you in almost any circumstance or situation.

If you're an honest, hard-working man of integrity, I'll help you through whatever crises in life come your way. Cars blow up, babies get sick, break-ups rip your guts out. I've helped guys out before, and I'll always do it for those who I KNOW aren't taking advantage of me. As a fallen man and recovering slacker, I know the value of surrounding yourself with people who excel in the virtues you aspire to.

If you're all those things I'm looking for, you will eventually outgrow this job. If I can't find a way to use your (by now obvious) leadership skills, I'll do whatever I can to help you succeed in your next career.

If this sounds good, welcome aboard. If not, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More kudos...

Got another one!

Hi David! I just wanted to say thank you and let you know that Jimmy and his crew did an AMAZING job today!!! We will be recommending you to all of our friends in the area. Thanks again! 

--Dana, 8/21/12

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Some customer feedback for My Truck Buddy -- thanks!

In the moving industry, your reputation is your company's life. It's somewhat difficult to stand out on things like price and services -- costs are pretty much the same for everyone -- so you have to stand out with other things. A company's reputation is one of the few things we have some degree of control over.

We rely heavily on which, as I've documented numerous times before, is a horrible, horrible business. Nonetheless, people use it, and many have been very kind to us. However, while only a small percentage of our customers write reviews about MTB on, a growing number write us directly. I wish these reviews were in a more public forum, but when things get tough, I'll take positive feedback however I can get it.

Here are just a few of the notes we've received in the last few months. Thanks goes to the guys -- particularly the veterans who've suffered through a confusing and chaotic learning curve to become the pillars and tradition-keepers of My Truck Buddy.

David -- Just wanted to tell you how totally impressed and satisfied I am with your work.  Everything was perfect, and I couldn't be happier.
 Thanks to all.
--Barbara, 8/18

David --

Once again, your movers were marvelous.  Quick, courteous, communicative, and efficient.  Of course, as the mother of a high school rower, I was very excited to meet your mover, Joe.

That you have such great guys working for you speaks volumes about the kind of company you have.

I will recommend you to my friends, and will call again in the future!


--Jennifer, 8/9

 Just wanted to say thanks for all the help today! The two guys that helped me out (Brian+another awesome guy) were incredibly helpful and finished really really quickly! [Note: we don't have a Brian on the crew. I think she meant Joe or Pete. -- CJ] It couldn't have gone any better. Never again will I move on my own! Please pass on my gratitude to the guys and make sure their bosses know how great they did!
 Thank you so much, 
--Kaitlin, 8/7 

Dear David - Can you stand to hear from another satisfied customer??  8 )   First, the online information was very helpful as was the estimate form and packing guide.  Second, your response was prompt. Third, you were quick to respond to questions and very helpful when I requested a change in the move time. Forth, according to my son who experienced the move, " these guys are amazing, they are so fast and so good!".  And last but not least the estimate you gave was spot on.  My son was so happy for the assistance in the hot and rainy weather on Saturday and I was very happy with the professional level of service you provided. Thank you so much.

--Jane, 7/23

 Just a note to tell you how great Pete and his team (Miko and another guy) were today for my move.  They were actually here early and went straight to work.  They even successfully dealt with the fact that my couch wouldn't fit through my front door!  (they brought it around the back and through the patio).
 They were truly professionals - please extend my thanks.

--Tracey, 5/29

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Strength and honor."

Every morning I wake up with a song or a phrase in my head. It's weird, particularly when the song is something by Miley Cyrus. But today it was Russell Crowe in Gladiator. As the soldiers are about to go to battle, he says to them, "Strength and honor."

How apt that that phrase resonates on an endless loop in my head today. Overall, things are good. Business is up, morale is mostly up, and the trucks are mostly in good working order. But that's not to say things are easy. Far from it.

In the last few weeks we've had two trucks break down. We were notified that our big DOT safety audit is scheduled for the end of the month. It's a routine thing -- if all your paperwork is in order. (And as anyone who has any familiarity with the back end of the business knows, paperwork is not my strong point.) We have one of the strongest crews we've ever had, but their numbers are dwindling -- guys are going back to school, looking for other, less physically demanding work, etc. Finding solid new guys -- "solid" in terms of physical strength, integrity, goal-orientation, etc. -- is a perennial problem. We have about two more weeks of busy season left, and we could break records if only we had the guys to do the work. After that, we'll be on the street in funny costumes flipping signs around. "Will move for diesel fuel."

Then there's the cloud of little to-do's that I just call "static." That's the endless list of little things that require a phone call or email, a scheduling commitment, attention... Most of these things aren't important to the overall mission of MTB, but they're still important. Some of them are very important in a broad sense (like compiling move statistics for marketing purposes), but they don't put jobs on the calendar RIGHT NOW.

And then there's the myriad vital things a good and available husband and father should do. On that front, well, I need a lot of work.

On days like today, the static threaten to drive me into the nearest movie theater and toss my phone into the nearest dumpster.

"Strength and honor." Again and again in my head.

Push through. In a couple of months there will be time to sleep. In a couple of months all these pressing worries will be replaced by one overriding worry: the work slowdown. Right now, that sounds wonderful, actually. I know I won't feel that way when the trucks sit outside my office window for days at a time, of course.

Another Gladiator quote comes to mind: "On my signal, unleash hell." Yes. I'll start there today. I'll start by unleashing hell on this trashed office. Yes. That feels like work...

Friday, August 10, 2012

3 Essential Moving Tips from My Truck Buddy

Naturally, one of the most common questions we get is "how can I make this go faster/be cheap? Other than following the tips in our Moving Guide, the shortest answer to that question is:

Box it, bag it, break it down.

All three parts of that have the same goal in mind: to reduce clutter and "random stuff."

Box it. 

Boxes are an essential part of the equation. Without doubt, the fastest moves we've ever done are those where there is nothing but boxes and furniture. Even when we're asked to move just boxes and furniture, but there's a lot of random stuff laying around, it invariably slows down the guys because they have to move it, step around it, or frequently ask "Is this going on the truck?"

Rent Our Boxes boxes are specifically
designed for trucks like ours, making for a very
efficient, well-packed truck!
Neat rows of boxes lined up and ready to go out the door reduce the time between the start and end of the load and unload. Trust me, this is one of the most essential things you can do.

In addition to actually using boxes is getting uniform-sized boxes. Of course, you won't likely be able to pack everything you have in one size box, but three sizes are usually just as good, particularly if you use Rent Our Boxes. They actually designed these to be the same height when stacked in rows. That is, you can stack something like two larges, three mediums, six smalls, or many variations thereof and the height of the rows will be the same. (Pictured to the left). Why is this important? Because dozens or more of randomly sized boxes takes longer to stack safely, and leaves inefficient gaps in the truck. In short, it costs time, and time is money!

Bag it. 

Inevitably, there will be things that just won't go into a box, or don't need to. Pillows, for example. Or, if you empty out your dressers or chests of drawers, bags make great storage tools. Again, the point is to reduce clutter, thereby increasing speed and efficiency.

Break it down. 

We're more than happy to disassemble anything that would best be transported in pieces. Beds, bookshelves, whatever. There is no extra charge for this service, but in the interest of keeping time and costs low, if your bed is disassembled, shelves have been removed (and wrapped in stretch wrap, ideally), etc., all the Truck Buddies will have to do is pick it up and pack it in the truck. Simple!

So that's it in a nutshell. As always, if you just want to discuss how your move can be done in the most efficient manner possible, give us a call!

My Truck Buddy