Thursday, June 30, 2011


Yahoooo, it's the end of June and we survived!

This June brought a lot of everything and because many agents ramped down over the off-season, it certainly made for a huge log jam that we are actually still digging through.

The busy season seems to be getting more and more condensed, similar to our weather in New England, back when we would get warmer much sooner than we do now.  It's nearly July and we are just getting into the high 80's.

The moving business would start getting busy in May and continue increasing right through the summer months and continue through September.  In the last few years, September seemed to tail off and now, even August is not what it use to be.  The condensed season has certainly put huge restraints on all of us along with many other factors.

That being said, I must thank all the people that have worked their tails off and come in every day and work as team players to figure out how to best service our customers.

Thank you to all of the dispatch team at Arpin.  I absolutely know that each and every one of you try your very best every day and that you help each other and care about every customer, agent and driver.  It is amazing the amount of calls that you take daily and the amount of work that is thank you to Bruce, Jay, Mark, Joe, Steve, Sheila, Mike, Rich, Don and our summer temps, Caroline, Andrew and Elissa.

Thanks for all other departments that we deal with daily: Registration, Contract Services, all Customer Care reps, and Safety.

Thank you to all our are simply the best!

I am always amazed at what you all do EVERY day.  It's not easy and you seem to get it all done with professionalism.  What you do is an art and not everyone can do it.  You need to be a lawyer with your paperwork, a psychologist or priest at times, a crew chief and boss.  You need to know how to load a trailer, take a full dresser down from the third floor with winding stairs without hitting the walls, drive hundreds of miles each day, be away from your family and loved ones for days...and all while I said: amazing.

Thank you to all of Arpin's agents.  We are blessed to have a group of agents that are not only professional, but who treat us and each other like family. What you have done this May and June and continue to do is astounding.

Thank you ALL!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Most times, we are all caught up with wanting to talk and push information out in order to get onto the next call or the next job.  In order to learn and succeed, we need to stop and listen.

Listen to what the customer, driver or your fellow employee is saying.  Most times, if you listen, they will always help you with what needs to get done.  You may need to reshuffle the deck or put a little more thought into it, but if you do, everyone will be happier for it.

Too often, we enter a conversation with a preset agenda and mostly the agenda will circle around what we think is best.  By being flexible and working with the other person, we can accomplish the same goals, but we encourage them to be part of the process.  Therefore, they are more of a partner then just someone that you are dictating to.

This is true in any relationship, personal or work.

For Operations, in order to do this, you need to always be ahead of the situation.  You need to anticipate possible situations and be prepared for them.  Understand that the driver or the agent wants to do a good job and they too want to have advanced notice of what they need to do in order to have a job run smoothly.

You may have something in mind, but when you run it by them, they may have a better idea or see something that you did not see before.  By being ahead of things and listening, you will catch many possible problems BEFORE they become problems.

Sometimes you need to lose in order to win.  In other words, there will be times that you may need to compromise and it may create more work for you.  However, in the long run, you win because the person you are working with or speaking to understands that you are with them and that you want to do your best to help them.  You may actually see within that same conversation that they start to help find the neutral ground that you are looking for...just listen.

Quiet your mind.  If you're too busy talking, you're not busy listening.  Click the link below and give it a listen...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quotes and Wisdom from Mr. Paul Arpin

  • "Just do a good job."
  • "It's not just what you do the 8-12 weeks of summer, it's what you do the rest of the year."
  • "There is no need to raise your voice."
  • "If you can not afford to buy it, then save not run up your credit card."
  • "Do not waste your time or your food."
  • "Do not grow your business too fast."
  • "Set the example."
  • "Always ask opinions and listen to people that are trustworthy and successful."
  • "Teach your children the value of a dollar and positive work ethic."
  • "If you are done with your work, then help the guy next to you."
  • "Treat everyone the same."
  • "Be careful not to set a precedent...what you do for one, you should do for all."
  • "Be sure you pay people what they have coming to them."

Paul Arpin was a dying breed.  He worked his way up and never forgot where he came from.  He wasn't highly educated (from school that is) because he left school to help take care of his family.  At a young age, he knew the value of hard work.

He enjoyed helping others and if you were loyal to him and you worked hard, he would return the favor.  He shook your hand, looked you in the eye and gave you respect.  Whether you were the guy who emptied the waste baskets at night or you were a prospective agent, driver, employee or customer, he always saw and respected you.

Whenever we went out to eat, he always asked the waiter's or waitress' name so he could remember it the next time. One time, he leaned over to me and said, "you never know when they are going to move."

He was always working it.

In the gym, which he went to faithfully, he knew everyone's name and story.  One lady told me after he passed away that he knew that she went through treatments for cancer and one day in the hospital, a big basket arrived.  The note simply said, "Get Well, Paul Arpin."  Just a lady he met at the gym, but he touched her life.

Yeah, he was always working it but he also got it.  He enjoyed people, he worked hard and he cared.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why the Moving Business?

Calling all people!  I ask...
Why the moving business?

I am often asked and I think many of us in the moving business ask ourselves that very question every summer as we try to stuff 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack.

It's the people.

You get to meet people and befriend them from across the country.  In the case of Arpin International and those that work with them, you meet and befriend people from around the world.

Because we rely so much on each other to have a successful move, there are bonds that form throughout the months and years that last a lifetime.  You start out helping each other and discussing the jobs.  Then, you learn more about the person and their families.  That is where the "gold" is.

Alan Alda wrote a few books and in one, he talks about learning the craft of acting.  He says it wasn't until he learned that becoming a better actor was not just about him, but it was about helping all the actors around him and learning from them..., he said,- "that's where the gold was".

For drivers, it's the feeling you get at the end of a move when you know that you made a difference in someone's life.  In fact, moving is ranked as one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through.  There's also the great feeling a customer care rep gets at the end of the move when the customer says how helpful they were.

I received an email from a military customer's wife who we moved from FL to CO.  She wrote to thank me for sending her the driver that we did because she said, "my husband is being deployed once again for Afghanistan tomorrow and we have two small children, both with colds and not feeling well.  Your driver was GOD sent.  He came in, took control and gave me so much confidence.  He made it so much easier for me at a time that I really needed someone.
That's why we do what we do and why you and I are in the moving business.

People helping people: that is your reward.  Those that succeed realize this sooner than later. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How Many People Touch One Move

In order for a move to be successful, everyone needs to do their part and act as a team.  Many people touch one job and each represents your agency and our van line.

First, conversations with the customer that take place may be from your salesperson or our customer care representative.  Their tone and friendliness set the foundation for the customer.

Next is the person who knocks on the door to do a survey.  They need to present themselves as a professional, exceed expectations and do a thorough survey to convey all particulars to help the packers, the driver and operations.

Now comes the time of the move when the packers are set out to pack the customer.  How they present themselves and properly pack will greatly effect the move.  From labeling boxes correctly to using the proper boxes, what they do will decrease claims and assist the loader.

OK, now it's move day.  The driver arrives.  Before he even does anything, many people have already set the bar for a successful move.  We are all one team.  If someone fails, we all fail.

The driver needs to do his job from the first walk-through to providing the proper documentation to prepping the house before he even begins the loading process.

If the move goes to storage, then a whole set of other people become involved from the warehouse crew to the delivery-out crew....again representing one team.

After the move, there may be a claim.  As careful as we are, things can get damaged.  The move is still alive to the customer so now the claim staff is part of our team.

Of course, throughout the move, there is also the dispatch team at the home office and at the agency level that have to do their job.  They gather and transfer all the information in a timely manner and choose the appropriate ride to accommodate all dates and the customer's needs.

This is our challenge: To train all involved in understanding that we are all somehow connected.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Above and Beyond

We have had so many stories throughout the years of drivers that go above and beyond on a job.  Here are a couple stories:

Story 1

One of our elite drivers was handling a VIP move and the customer's biggest love were their cats.  They had named all of their cats after spices: Cinnamon, Sage, etc.

While the move was in progress, the driver called a company that made baskets and asked to have one made with cat toys and spices .  He also purchased a huge stuffed cat and told the basket company to deliver the day he arrived.  Before he turned down the customer's road, he stopped his tractor and tied the stuffed cat to the front.  He called the customer to inform them that he was about to turn down their road and they may want to look out the window.  They absolutely loved it.  Talk about above and beyond.

Story 2

We had another driver who was loading a family moving to New England.  It seemed as though the kids were very upset because they were flying to their new home but could not fly with their pet turtles.  The driver felt bad and offered to take the turtles with him, promising to keep them in the cab with him and his wife.

He became an instant hero to the family.

They gave him instructions on how to care for the turtles and clean them (after all, it was an over 3,000 mile trip).  The driver and his wife had to stop every so often at the truck stop in order to change the water and clean them....and they did as asked.  At one of the truck stops, the driver was cleaning the tank when one of the turtles tried to make a getaway...but it is a turtle after all and only got so far!  They all made it safe and sound to their destination and new home.

Wow...pretty cool.  Like I said, Arpin has the best drivers!

Our drivers go above and beyond every day.  When they are out on a move, their dedication to families never ceases to amaze me.  Thank you does not seem enough to fully show appreciation...but THANK YOU!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Every elite driver, successful employee and agent all say the same thing: the key to success is communication.

We all need to communicate with each other.  Now, with smartphones and email, it has become quicker and easier then ever.  Here are some other tips:

  • Always keep the Customer Care Representative involved in your move.
  • A quick text or email while a move is in progress will save a lot of time and help you with getting paid on any extras.  Also, it will help solve situations BEFORE they become a problem.
  • No matter how small the detail, do not assume that someone knows. As a customer yourself, you know it is always impressive when the company or store that you are dealing with is informed.  Even better when you feel that they care.

A picture is worth a thousand words, if you have a smart phone take a picture of the piece or access and email it to the Representative and ops. Trust me it will help all of us in the long run.
If you do not own a smart phone by now what are you waiting for? It's like a carpenter going to work without a tool belt. It is a necessary tool for your trade and in communication.
In what ever buisness you happen to be in the road to success will always be how well you communicate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Arpin's 2011 Positive Performer of the Year

Mark hard at work
We are glad to announce that this year's 2011 Positive Performer of the Year is Mark Velardi from our Operations Department!  I hired Mark in 2005 and he has come a long way, since he came to Arpin with no household background. 

I always say that in Operations, someone has to live three summers to be of top use.

The first summer becomes just a blur.  Whatever you were able to train a dispatcher in the off-season pretty much gets thrown to the wind when the gun goes off for the summer.  You are way too busy to really train, so the new guy becomes more of an "order taker" and you hope they grasp a few things along the way.

The second summer they see a bit more and by the third, you hope they are starting to get the hang of preplanning, prioritizing and organizing.

I equate it to blinders on a horse: the first summer, they have no peripheral vision and by the third, the blinders should be off. 

Mark Velardi has followed that road map and has made himself a very valuable part of our home office operations.  He, like the rest of us, is still learning and will be the first to tell you that, but Mark has the major ingredient for success:

He cares about others.

Paul Arpin would tell me that he was always learning the business right up to his last days.  Hard to believe with his vast knowledge of the buisness and his fantastic memory.  He knew that you could always learn more and in Operations, every day brought new challenges.  David Arpin believes that the household industry is going through its biggest changes since deregulation of the 80's. 

That is what Paul, David and I enjoy the most about this business.  It is constantly changing and our possibilities are endless, but we must be ready to change with it and mostly, never stop caring about others.

Thank you Mark Velardi for being part of the change and our future.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prioritize, Respect and Follow Through

Some of my first lessons at Arpin came very quick.

As I said, David Arpin watched over the Northeast back in the 80's and I was hired to dispatch the same area. David stood in the back room and looked over all the work and drivers.  He was also able to overhear you on the phones.

One day, he heard me call one of our drivers by his last name.  I meant no disrespect, but next thing you know, he was tapping me on the shoulder. He asked me to put the driver on hold and then told me that, "we call our drivers here by their first name."

Lesson learned.

Not only did they address their drivers by their first name, but they listened to and helped them. They were as much a business partner as anyone else, if not more so.

Next lesson was when David had asked me a question about a driver's space and the estimate on a certain job. I wrote it down and left for lunch. While I was backing up my car, I saw David running after me. I rolled the window down and he said he needed the information then, not an hour or so later.

Lesson learned.

There should be a sense of urgency when looking for information because it all ties into something else and effects other people. So follow through, and do it sooner rather then later.

Prioritize, respect and follow through...all great steps on the ladder to success.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


What does it mean when we say Arpin is like "working for a family"? Here are just a few examples:

Example 1

When I started back in 1985, I had a young family and had just purchased my first home.  We struggled financially like any young family.  We needed one car that we could rely on, so I asked David Arpin if he had any sales cars that they were selling cheap.  He said no, but asked if he could help.

I said that I had a problem making a payment or two and in the same second David, Vice President then, had opened his drawer to his desk and pulled out his personnel checkbook.  He asked me what I would need, proceeded to write a check and told me to pay it back when I could.

That's family.

Example 2

We had a driver that came down with a serious medical problem and needed help to pay medical bills.  This driver had been with Arpin for over 20 years and was one of our best.  Without the funding, he would not get the treatment that he needed and it may have cost him his life.

With the help of many contacts in the building, I was able to set up a charitable corporation so that we could raise money to help.  I sent out an email to our family of agents and drivers.  What happened from there was wonderful to be a part of. 

Agents and drivers from around the country sent checks and sent their well wishes.  Paul Arpin called me in his office and said that he too wanted to contribute.  He then wrote a personal check for $20,000.  We raised over $80,000 total all within 30 days.

Over 30 surgeries and a few months later, the driver walked out of that hospital.

That's family.