August 3, 2011 by Frank Peditto
While most of us view relocation and
moving services as transactional services, we often come across stories that
demonstrate that the relationship developed between the transferee and either
the relocation company or the direct service provider runs much deeper and this
is one of those such stories.
Recently, we received an initiation
from one of our third party relocation customers to transport a vehicle for a very
senior level executive who works for one of their largest clients. We followed
our standard procedures and began working with the transferee and his spouse to
coordinate the specifics for their vehicle shipment. While a few of the
elements of the relocation frustrated the couple, we remained in constant
communication with them regarding the process and dates for their vehicle.
After the vehicle was picked up, the driver remained in close contact with the
transferee throughout the transit process and then phoned them on delivery day to
confirm the delivery location. A few minutes after that conversation, the
transferee received another call from the driver advising that he was having a
heart attack and requesting that they please call 911. The transferee and his
wife, already en route to meet the driver called 911 and then also located a
policeman, who followed them to the driver, where they together met the
All happening in a matter of
minutes, the driver was immediately taken to the local hospital and the
transferee and his wife followed, spending the entire afternoon waiting for
updates on his condition. Some four hours later the driver was released from
the hospital, only to be greeted by the transferee and his wife, who drove him
back to his truck and helped him offload their vehicle. Concerned, the couple
urged the driver to get some rest, but he insisted on continuing on and making
his other vehicle deliveries.
In today’s society, stories such as
this seem especially poignant and touching, as they are often the exception and
not the rule. In the end, the driver was fine, albeit exhausted and overwhelmed
from this experience, the transferee and his wife received their vehicle
without issue, and a new friendship was born. For our team, this story
demonstrates not only the service provided by our partners, but also reinforces
that, when it comes down to it, we’re all people, regardless of who is
providing the service and who is receiving it, and we all care about one
another’s well being.
July 6, 2011 by Frank Peditto
When we hired a marketing consultant
to assist us with our new website design in 2010, I was pretty surprised when
they recommended that we add a blog to our site. First off, I wasn’t sure how
it would positively impact our company seeing that we are primarily
business-to-business focused and within in a niche market. Second, I was
fearful of our team having the time and marketing background to create new
concepts each month and keep it going. After much discussion, and additional
education on my part of blogging and how it could help even a small, niche
based business, I conceded and the ReloTrans blog was born.
When I initially started blogging, I
was focused on keeping the content very industry specific, so I wrote about
some of our stories; highlighting key information for transferees from an
experiential perspective. As time went on, the team began to recommend other
topics including customer service, team leadership and transferee based
information. And, the blog continues to evolve today. After just over a year of
writing, I offer new bloggers, or those contemplating a blog, the following
- Shed the fear of committing to a
blog on your corporate site, regardless of which industry you service and what
your company does.
- Keep your blog open and write about
topics that are germane, but not limiting. I have found that it’s easiest for
me to write about something pertinent and also a topic that I am familiar with
and know well.
- Make your blogs about more than your
organization; let the business come to you and understand that blogs serve many
objectives, but they should not be focused on self-promotion.
- Offer tips and advice; this content
seems to draw the most attention as it is often the most relevant for your
- Ensure that your blogs are to the
point and keep the readers engaged.
- Use links to enhance the resource
nature of your blog posts.
- If you make the commitment to blog,
keep up with the schedule and work to post at least once a month, all the
while, keeping content fresh and on point for your industry and audience(s).
- Have fun and view blogging as an
extension of your personal expression and that of your organization. If it’s
not fun then it’s probably not helping your cause.
With a little experience under my
belt, I look forward to continuing this blog and expanding the topics in the
future. If you have any topics you feel would be interesting or that you would
like to see, please email me at email@example.com.
June 1, 2011 by Frank Peditto
While it seems as though our business in the
relocation and moving industry is certainly coming back in 2011, there are
still many questions regarding the economy, housing market and unemployment,
leaving many small business owners, such as myself, with a lingering reticence
on spending. Of course, everyone knows that you have to spend money to make
money, but, as a small business, the ongoing challenge is where to make those
investments. There are so many marketing options available today: online/web,
social, print, and trade events to name just a few, and each have sub-elements
While online, web and social have measurable
returns or at least quantifiable ones, I have always questioned the value of
trade shows, especially over the past five years. My past experience with trade
shows has been that you ‘have to be there’ because if you’re not, your industry
often thinks you are out of business, and that most are filled with competitors
and not real business opportunities. With that said, being a non-asset based
management company, I also understand the value of our partnerships, so this
past month we packed up and headed for the American Moving and Storage (AMSA)
in Jacksonville, FL. With a new booth, some great giveaways and an open mind,
we set up shop and began to network with the 680 other industry professionals
in attendance. The sessions were informative and we did so much networking. I
was amazed at how many people came over to visit, say ‘Hi’, gather information
and see what ReloTrans is all about. I was even more surprised at
how many peers had seen our social media efforts on Twitter and Facebook, and
our blogs re-packaged on industry LinkedIn groups. I left that show with a
fresh perspective and a clearer understanding that, with marketing, you can’t
do just one thing or even a few, that everything needs to work together.
May 5, 2011 by Frank Peditto
It is estimated that an average of
44 million Americans move in the U.S. each year. According to the U.S. Census
one in six Americans move each year and the average American will move
just over 11 times in their lifetime. While many of these moves occur within
the same county or local area, a substantial portion are longer distance moves,
requiring the services of moving professionals, including vehicle
One of the biggest challenges we
face in the moving industry is the seasonality, with between 60 and 70 percent
of the annual activity occurring each year between April and September. In
fact, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) named May ‘National
Moving Month’ to signify the beginning of the season. Anyone who has been in
the moving industry understands the seasonality and works diligently to prepare
for the increase in activity while not sacrificing service or capability.
Reflecting back on my nearly 20 years in the business, I share the following
recommendations for preparation and survival.
- Survey your clients: Meet with
clients during annual reviews and work to develop individual plans based on their
specific business objectives and predictions for the forthcoming year. Incorporate
these forecasts into your overall business modeling.
- Leverage temporary help: Design and
implement an operational model that allows for the engagement of temporary help
during the spring and summer seasons. A perfect opportunity for college
students and interns, your model must be built to allow for the separation of
administrative and back-office tasks (non-customer facing) providing your
experienced service professionals with the support required to effectively
manage an increased caseload without comprising service in any way.
- Prepare and train your team: Don’t
wait until the initiations begin coming in, but rather work with your team in
advance to prepare them for the process and train them on efficiencies and best
practices to allow them to effectively do their jobs and provide unparalleled
- Continuously invest in technology:
Work on your business as well as in it, remaining focused on improvement and
leveraging technology to reduce redundancies in workflow and automate any
non-critical manual tasks.
- Reward your team: Ensure that you
recognize the increased workload through internal kudos, pizza lunches,
complimentary half-days, etc.
Working in a seasonally impacted
industry is not easy and it requires a lot of knowledge, preparation and
flawless execution, but, if you know your business and engage and reward your
team, you will mitigate the volume with ease and position yourself for
continued growth in the future.
March 3, 2011 by Frank Peditto
Oftentimes companies are so focused on acquiring new business that
they lose sight of the true value of their existing customers. According to The
White House Office of Consumer Affairs
, the cost of acquiring a new customer
costs an average of five times more than retaining an existing customer. Add to
that the statistic from the book; “Leading on the Edge of Chaos” that a two
percent increase in customer retention has the same impact on profits as
cutting costs by 10 percent and the value of existing customers certainly
becomes a lot clearer.
According to a report issued by the Harvard Business Review, the
average company loses 50 percent of their customers every five years. A
standard business objective each year for most companies focuses on customer
retention, but what are the true keys to achieving that goal. As a smaller,
non-asset based company, customer retention sits at the forefront of our goals
each year, alongside the mindset that we are only as good as our last ‘move’.
Following are the top 10 ‘keys’ we employ in our organization to support our
clients and relocating employees and exceed our customer retention objectives
your employees well. Happy team members equate to happy customers.
your customers, both the clients and the transactional customers, and remember
that they are people first.
- Keep in
mind that you are a service company and your people and the service you provide
is your greatest asset. According to The White House Office of Consumer Affairs
each customer has a circle of influence of 250 people or potential customers,
which is likely even more in today’s environment with the continued evolution
of social media, who will hear negatives about your company if your service
does not meet your customer’s expectations.
yourself as a service professional from your work. Think of an issue in terms
of solving a problem rather than receiving a personal attack. Remember that the
customer is mad at and frustrated with the situation; it’s not personal.
to your customers. While we’re all faced with the need to multi-task, remember
that these are your customers and to truly listen to them and demonstrate your
respect for them you need to be 100 percent focused.
your customers feel special. Nordstrom started this in retail by walking your
purchases around from behind the counter. While much of the customer service
provided today is by phone, remaining focused and smiling, even while on the
phone, will translate and make your customer feel valued.
- Be a
step ahead. By listening and respecting the customer, you will be able to
identify opportunities to anticipate questions, needs or even issues and
present answers and solutions in advance.
beyond. Work in partnership with your customers and do one small extra thing.
Whether it’s an extra call, a gift card, or even one additional email
follow-up, it demonstrates your commitment to excellence.
humility. While this is reflected in many of the keys already mentioned, it is
still critical. A simple apology goes a long way and it can be as easy as
recognizing their issue or concern and just saying that you are sorry that they
are having that experience.
feedback. Survey your customers throughout the service delivery and post-completion
and make sure to share that information, positive or negative, with your team;
working to do more of the positive and using the negative to build internal
objectives or identify process improvements for the future.
February 2, 2011 by Frank Peditto
The last few months, I have focused this blog on
customer service, which is always critical in our industry, but this month, as
we prepare for the busy seasons of Spring and Summer, I am focusing on they key
items, or ‘Top 10’, that transferees need to know when they ship their vehicle.
So here they are, in no particular order.
- Make sure your transportation company has an active
phone number for you where they can reach you both at origin and destination.
- If your vehicle is not running, be sure and let your
transportation company’s counselor know as soon as possible.
- Do not cancel your insurance policy.
- Ensure that you have two complete sets of keys for
- Make sure that your vehicle is completely emptied of any
personal items prior to shipment.
- Replenish coolants etc. prior to shipment, especially
during inclement weather conditions.
- Disconnect all alarms.
- Remove any non-permanent items such as ski racks etc.
- Remove or retract any antennae.
- Have less than one-half of a tank of gas in the vehicle,
but ensure that it’s not completely empty (i.e. the gas light should not be
Share these ‘tips’ with your transferees and please
post a comment to this blog with any additional ones you might also recommend.
December 10, 2010 by Frank Peditto
considered by most to be a transportation company; an organization that
transports vehicles, boats and specialty items within the United States and
internationally. But, being non-asset based, we are really a customer service
company and, as such, we are inherently aware that we are only as good as our
last move. Internally we are a small group of professionals with a culture
dedicated to delivering the highest level of service for our clients and their
Reflecting on the time of year and
the service being provided to each of us as we mitigate our way through holiday
preparations, shopping and travel, it’s important to keep in mind the critical
elements of delivering excellent customer service. Reading through many books
and articles, the obvious rise to the top of the list immediately:
- Build and reinforce trust with your
- Remain attentive and focused on
their needs; listen to them
- Maintain a pro-active approach and
ensure quick follow-up with consistent communication
- Demonstrate a courtesy and an
appreciation for their business as well as their personal situation; the
challenges they are facing and their specific concerns
These are great reminders for
everyday, but what are the special considerations that help customer service
professionals keep their cool when faced with a particularly irate customer.
According to a survey conducted in 2007 by Customer Care Measurement &
Consulting, 70 percent of customers who have problems with a product or service
are in rage by the time they reach a live customer service representative. Of
those 70 percent, 24 percent will yell at the service professional, 8 percent
will threaten legal action, and 5 percent will resort to profane language. And,
it’s estimated that these numbers have increased since the survey was
So, when faced with irate or enraged
customers, what are the keys to remediating the situation and avoiding further
escalation? Here are some of the critical elements we reinforce in our
organization, both for internal and external customers, when we are inevitably
faced with these challenges:
- Begin with an apology.
Acknowledgement of the issue is critical to diffusing the anger and working
through the challenge to a mutually agreeable resolution. Regardless of whether
or not you are the one actually responsible, a general, but sincere apology
like, “I am so sorry that you are experiencing this issue,” will go a long way.
- Sympathize with the individual. Remain
in active listening mode and identify with their feelings. Take the approach of
letting them, “get it off of their chest” and then reinforce the listening with
an additional acknowledgement.
- Accept responsibility and
demonstrate accountability by recapping the issue and their desired
remediation, if communicated, and then take action.
- Stay connected. If you are not the
individual who can make the decision, say that you will perform additional
research and get back to them within a specific time period, and then make 100
percent sure you meet that time frame.
Finally, I will leave you with one
of the first things I learned in performing customer service over the phone –
always smile. Even though the customer will never see you, it sets the tone and
it does make a difference.
November 2, 2010 by Frank Peditto
Our core industry is transportation.
ReloTrans works with individuals, most often those involved in a corporate
relocation, to facilitate the move of their vehicle within the United States or
internationally. While we are known as a transportation company, our core
business is really customer service, and it is something we reinforce in our
operations each and every day.
Case in point. We recently moved a
vehicle for a customer’s client employee. When the vehicle was delivered the
transferee immediately contacted our relocation coordinator to advise that the
seat in their vehicle had been completely ruined because the driver, or someone
other than them, had left a half-eaten sandwich on the seat of the car. Needless
to say, the vehicle traveled hundreds of miles, windows closed and the end result
was not positive. The seat was damaged and the car smelled, as you would expect
– not pleasant. As we do with any other claim, we acted immediately working to
contact the driver, file the claim and determine what really happened. What ensued
was a bit of a ‘he said, she said’ scenario with the driver claiming it was not
their fault nor was it their sandwich. We worked to mitigate the proverbial
tennis match of back and forth claims, but when it really came down to it, it
was our customer and we were responsible. Our primary focus and responsibility was
to remediate the situation with the transferee, which we did by way of
replacing the entire seat of the vehicle along with a complete detail.
As I sat and reflected on this
incident I was proud that our team remained focused first on the customer and
making their experience ‘right’. All too often in today’s society the service element
is lost. We experience it at the bank, when they ask you to make your
transaction at the automated teller machine instead of with a live person, even
when the bank is open. It’s rampant when you call any mid- or large-sized
corporation and are immediately directed to an automated attendant where, if
you are lucky, you reach a live person in just 10 electronic entries into your
phone. Regardless of how large our company becomes, we will always be a
customer service company, working in the transportation industry and committed
to providing personalized service.
October 7, 2010 by Frank Peditto
transportation business we witness a lot of strange occurrences, some of which
we share in this blog, others of which we tell at conventions and industry
events. In the world of relocation, it’s always an adventure.
It’s not often
that you have two of the exact same vehicle: year, make, model and color, in
one family, but it has happened. Ironically, this was a few years back and the
family was relocating from northern California to Manhattan. A complex move
that involved a wine collection, temperature controlled storage, a vast
household goods shipment, artwork, multiple drop-off locations and four
vehicles. With all of those moving parts you would have assumed that the
vehicles would have been the easiest component…well, guess again.
pick-up day for the cars, the transferee’s wife, a lovely woman, was on-site.
She confirmed with the driver that one car was to be dropped off at their
corporate apartment in the city, while the others would go to ‘storage’ until
their home outside of the city was ready. Ironically, they had two of the exact
same SUVs – and one was going to their city apartment and the other to storage.
Everything is progressing nicely – well, that is what we thought – as the
vehicle arrived in Manhattan and the wife accepted delivery. About a week had
passed when an irate call from the client was received – the wife had been
arrested for driving an unregistered vehicle. The arrest was actually due to
the fact that she decided to get a ‘new look’ for New York City and had a
makeover along with a new hair style and color so when she was pulled over for
driving without a plate (and registration) she didn’t look anything like her
California license leading the police to bring her in for questioning. All of
the details had been worked out once her husband arrived and she was released
with no formal charges.
reacting to the client’s call, we moved into action. After a bit of research,
it was uncovered that she, in-fact, confirmed the wrong vehicle for shipment
and immediate use in New York and it was the other, exact SUV that was
registered and to be shipped. Of course, she was mortified and we were relieved,
as was the client, that it was an unfortunate accident and not our mistake. Her
correct vehicle was immediately delivered and, after about a week, she had recovered
enough to laugh about the entire incident.
always say when talking with our team or other industry veterans, ‘stranger
things of happened’ and typically the next one is even more unbelievable than
September 14, 2010 by Frank Peditto
In the relocation industry, especially within the
transportation sub-segment, the summer months are always the busiest. Typically
we see a healthy spike in activity in June, July and August, which allows us to
prepare in advance for the seasonal increase. This year, due to the sluggish
economy, we weren’t sure what to really expect. We prepared with additional
staffing and, much to our surprise and delight, the season was a near record
one for our company, with more than 40 percent of our annual volume occurring during
the past three months.
As a business owner, the spike in volume is obviously
great for the ‘bottom line’, but with it comes challenges in staffing and coverage
to ensure that our service levels are not compromised and our internal culture
is not disrupted. After all, it is summer and we all have team members who are
interested in taking vacations and certainly entitled to do so.
So how, as a small business, do you balance the
business activity with service quality and the happiness of your team members? We
start with the premise that the customer comes first, and our entire team is
committed to that philosophy and our overarching dedication to providing
With that said, we also employ a ‘all hands on deck’
philosophy where every member of the team understands that we may have to alter
our tasks and our standard workflow in order to support other team members and
our overall business. And that includes the president and senior team leaders
as well. This summer it’s been a bit like the CBS show, Undercover Boss, and as
president, I ended up with a lot of filing, copying and paper clipping. For
nearly half of the summer, my traditional role was moved to more of an office
administrator, providing any type of support possible for the team. Interestingly
enough, this turned out to be one of the most beneficial activities I have had
in my career. By working with each team member and assisting them with the
manual tasks they have to do every day for each file, I got to experience our
operational processes first hand, and it was an eye-opener. I learned quickly
that there are many processes on a day-to-day basis that could be improved or
made more efficient. In just two months we, as a team, identified over 20
processes that we are currently re-engineering.
While its genesis was out of necessity, our ‘all
hands on deck’ summer turned out to be a most beneficial experience for our
organization. Our team is closer than ever. We met all of our clients needs for
this summer and we now are a more efficient and effective team. Regardless of
your company’s size or your leadership role within your organization, it’s
critical to remain engaged in the details of what your company does and how you
do it. Take a look at your business from the inside out, it’s the best way to
see what’s really going on and identify areas where you can improve efficiency