Monday, October 21, 2013

Movers didn't show up?

I get a call about movers who don't show up at least once per week. I get that unforeseen circumstances can greatly delay a crew, (we PLAN on it), but just...disappearing? That's unacceptable, and it astounds me how common it is.

Before I get all "judgey," I should note that we have a couple of bad reviews on our Yelp page due to something like this. They were from back in the days when we didn't even have an office, much less the complex set of overlapping technological and procedural systems we do today. They happened at the height of the summer busy season when we don't have time to put out the fire in our hair (we'll get to it after we answer these 1,000 emails...) I had to hand the reins to my senior guy to go to a funeral out west a couple of years ago, and he was instantly overwhelmed. Things got complicated and at least one person's job didn't make it to the Master Calendar.

That, hopefully, is in our past. Now, even if one of our crews is running late (usually due to a prior job having a lot more "stuff" than expected, or if there was some barrier like a broken elevator), the customer will get a call either from the crew leader or one of us back at HQ.

In fact, our systems have vastly improved: We have initial response time goals, we send follow-up emails, we have system reminders, move-day policies and procedures, follow-ups, etc.

Basically, the worst threat to our system is the regrettable number of sub-systems that take a certain amount of manual oversight to keep running smoothly. Still, it works 99 percent of the time.

This is the result of seven years of trial-and-error experimentation. While I'm sure there's a simpler system (which no doubt costs a fortune), it works, and a good amount of our positive feedback is about our responsiveness.

The guys we affectionately call "Craigslist Cowboys," those guys who charge something like $55/hr (three-hour minimum), constantly change their "company" names, and more often than not get bad reviews for things like not showing up, just don't put in the time and effort to build the systems necessary to manage the complex logistical leviathan of a moving company--of any size. It's another one of the things most often misunderstood by guys getting into the industry -- it's not just as simple as picking things up and putting them down.

Now watch -- I'm about to eat crow. We're still operating in the new HQ with computers tethered to our cell phones so we can get estimates out. That's BEGGING for some ironic humbling.

Showing up on time is our first First Principle. If we think we're not going to be able to do that, we let our customers know. We never just don't show up.

C.

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