Saturday, July 30, 2011

Input From A Fellow Agent

"Problems  are solved in the way you confront them…people are not the problems…it is the conflict that revolves around the problem…people naturally don’t want to be blamed however they automatically become defensive…it is our job to confront the problem ~eliminate the conflict ~ and convert the opponent to our ally.

This summer my goal is to work with REVERSE PARANOI!"

-Signed, an Arpin agent

I find this all the time because it is human nature to get defensive.  It's the true manager, coach or leader who learns to knock down walls and help find the bridge.  It can also be the most difficult part to learn in both business and in our personal life.

If a person calls you or approaches you and they're talking fast and hyperventilating, it is best to let them talk themselves out.  Listen to what they are saying and let them know that you understand and you are sure that you can help.  Somewhere in their conversation, they may even offer up exactly what the compromise may be.

Whatever you do, DO NOT GET DEFENSIVE.  That will only add fuel to the fire.

There is a time and place for everything.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Message from Chief Operating Officer and Senior V.P. of Military Services - Matt Dolan

DPS Continues to Challenge

    The second peak season of military is still going strong, but the end is in sight.  We have booked close to 3,500 shipments since May 15th, and should perform over 5,000 domestic shipments by September 15th of this year.  The DPS program continues to challenge Arpin and the industry, but this year saw many more positives.

    Last season, we had a deluge of shipments on one day and there were few if any blackouts in the system.  Shipments came from everywhere and we struggled to handle them all.  Many agents we had never worked with before were called upon to provide services.  This year, Arpin was much more proactive in shaping to those lanes where we could count on agents and drivers.  SDDC had promised better blackout capability, and that has not happened.  It is far from a pure system, and we make daily judgments to try our best to not over book out of certain areas, and overall, this year was much better.  We did receive too many shipments out of the North East, Georgia, and Missouri, but it was much more controlled than last year.
    There is no doubt that rates in DP3 are less profitable than TOPS.  While that is true, we have booked many shipments during this peak season at more favorable rates for drivers and agents.  Hauling capacity is the biggest challenge.  As we deal with DP3, we need to find ways to make hauling more profitable, and it has been this summer.  We will continue to find ways to get better rates while bringing the work in the door.
    As always, quality is the key.  Our scores this summer are running over 2 points above last summer.  This bodes well for winter tonnage, and should allow us to continue to raise rates going forward.

Matt Dolan
Chief Operating Officer & Senior V.P. of Military Services

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


OK, it is the end of July a summer in the moving industry!  Without question, this has been the most challenging summer of all 26 that I've been involved in.

Then again, each one certainly brings different challenges.

I think what makes this one even more so is the uncertainty of our economic state in the country.  Couple that with our new CSA Rules and Regulations and the first full summer of DP3 and you have what we are all living in...a very challenging time for all.

That said, Arpin employees, drivers and agents are remarkable.  They say, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."  I can certainly attest to that.

Those that choose to stand and fight and be a part of the solution are people that you want to be associated with.  People that truly care by helping others are those that will succeed in life.

There are many factors that make this summer challenging, to say the least, and some of which have nothing to do directly with the industry such as the economy and housing.  We are most definitely affected by all of it.

The industry still struggles to wrap their arms around the DP3 system, especially how and when work is delegated and at what discounts.  We all learned last year from the year before and we learned more this year.  This will improve.

We need to collectively take a breath and celebrate what we have all done, together and as a team, this summer season.

We have been running since May and with the help of some very hard working people we were able to accomplish some really great things for thousands of our customers.

We made our mistakes along the way because we are all humans but I assure you that from where I sit, the overview was a bunch of hard-working and dedicated people working together and through those efforts, we were able to work together and help many families relocate and start a new beginning.

Take a breath and be proud!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ivory Tower

"Get out of your Ivory Tower and get to know your people. It is the only way you can know what is really happening in your department." - Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln often visited Generals in the field and had even been known to set up camp with his troops during battle.  He met with his Generals often, in their offices, their homes and in the field principally to provide leadership and direction but also to view first-hand and listen to all.  He did this so he could make informed, accurate decisions without having to rely solely on the word of others.

Lincoln is considered to be one of the nation's best leaders.

It is no different today.  In order for any business or team to succeed, you need good leaders.

Whether you are a principle in a school, a driver working with a crew or a dispatcher or department head, you must be in the mix of things and view the day to day in order to make positive suggestions and see who is doing their job and how you may lend positive change.

In one of Ken Blanchard's books, who is the author of The One Minute Manager and many other books on how to organize, coach and lead, he refers to those department heads or supervisors that just poke their heads in and reprimand as "swoop down managers".  They just swoop down, spew their negativity and then swoop away...leaving behind dejected employees in their wake.

Nothing really changes and nothing positive comes out of it.

The late Charles Campbell, owner of Studdard Moving in KS, was in the moving business for over five decades and right up to his last days he would wake up early and meet his crews before they left in the morning. He would go over their equipment with them and the information on their paperwork.
Charles "inspected what he expected" and stay involved.

So get out of your office, sit with your employees or visit your classes.  If you are a driver or a crew leader, watch how a packer or loader is doing their job.

Ask questions, help, and make suggestions.

Be part of the solution: teach, change and climb down from your Ivory Tower.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Bottom line: we all want respect.  I firmly believe that what goes around comes around...some call it karma.

The golden rule is certainly the secret of life...treat others the way you would like to be treated.

That's everyone and all the time.

If you stop and listen to your tone or your words and ask yourself how you would react if the same tone and words were directed toward you, then you may think twice.

No matter what your title or position is, in the long run, we are all the same and no one is any better then the other.

You normally know as soon as you hang up or leave the room that you handled a situation wrong.  The best thing to do at that point is to go back, admit it and apologize.

Be the bigger person.

Even if you think you were right in the matter, when you are rude, loud or you do not let the other person talk, you lose all validity...apologize, learn from it and move on.

Respect others, your neighbors, co-workers, customers and I promise you that you will get respect in return.  If you hold a grudge or live your life trying to get even, it will wear you down.  Loosen your shoulders and let it go.  You will feel better and it is far better for your overall health.

To quote Jame Taylor, "the secret of life is enjoying the passing of time" or John Lennon, "life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans".

Life is too short...let it go...

Monday, July 18, 2011

This is a "VIP"

When we plan a load on a driver and tell him that a certain customer is a "VIP", we always get the same response from our elite drivers: "I treat all my customers the same".

A good professional household driver only knows one way to wrap a chair, build a tier or to greet a customer.  In what ever profession you're in, if you take pride in what you do, you approach each day and situation with the same enthusiasm and expertise.

Also what determines a "VIP"? Is it a title that happens to appear next to their name or their influence in what ever line of work that they are in?

I believe, as do all elite drivers, that a Private in the military is just as important of a move.  Is he not a volunteer in our service willing to sacrifice for us?  How about the retiree that is moving and has worked their whole life?  Aren't their possessions just as important?

As I said, being a mover is an art and a profession...and just like any other profession, if you excel at what you do, then you care about what you do.  You can not turn it on and off like a light switch because a person's title or power should not determine the level of service that they obtain.

The reward that you receive at the end, the hug or handshake that you get and the look directly into your eyes when the person says "thank you" is our motivation.

That is what separates the good and the excellent...EVERYONE IS A "VIP".

Did you have a move or situation that stands out that made you feel good?  One that made all of the sacrifices worth it?

If so please share it with us in the comment section.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Why do drivers like poking each other...or why do people in general find the need to pull others down in order to try and build themselves up?
I will never understand why people outright lie to each other.

When I first started at Arpin, I had dispatched a driver with a full load from the northeast heading to CA.  I knew that it was a very good load and that it paid well.  The driver called me while he was heading across and said he passed a fellow Arpin driver in Ohio who was heading East.  They were friends and they talked often on the CB (this was before cell phones).  He told the driver heading East that he had a bad load on that wouldn't pay well and he would not make any money.  He then asked me to lie for him in case the driver mentioned it to me because he knew that I knew that it was very good paying load.  I asked him, "why would you lie to him about your load??"

He said because he did not want him to feel bad. (I, of course, said I would certainly not lie for him to substantiate his lie.)

Thus was my introduction into what I will never understand, drivers poking each other.

I spoke to a now retired owner of an agency down in Florida and told me that poking each other, fibbing, telling lies...whatever you want to call it, is as old as the business.  He drove a truck back in the 60's and even back then when he was leaving CA and heading East, he would tie a box on the back of his trailer even if he had space inside so that when he passed another driver on the highway heading in, he would get on the CB and tell him that he was loaded so full, he had to swing a box on the back.

I can go on and give you countless examples but I will never understand it.  I witness similar stories in all areas and departments.  It happens in all businesses and personal relationships.

People have the desire and need to pull others around them down in order to try and build themselves up...why?

Just tell the's so much easier.

Do you have any examples or stories of this happening in your life?  Please share them in our comment section.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't Grow Too Fast...Watch Your Dollars!

Paul Arpin was a mentor to many people.  He enjoyed helping business owners, drivers and employees.  If you listened to him, you had to learn from him.

Paul grew up in the days before credit cards.  If you couldn't afford it, you didn't buy it, or you saved up the money until you could.

One day while I was in the office, Paul asked if I had any credit debt.  At the time, I had a total of about $6000 in credit card debt, which for a young family with one income, I thought was pretty good.  He said, "I thought you were smarter than that."  Again, in Paul's era, you simply did not buy on credit.

Paul even waited until he saved up enough money to buy his first house.  That's right...Paul paid cash for his first house back in the 60's.  The same house he lived in for the rest of his life.  Paul would take his lunch to work every day and eat at his desk.  The man grew and ran a multimillion dollar organization, but would spread his napkin out on his desk around noon time and eat the sandwich that his wife made for him along with a jar of milk.

Two things here:
  1. Paul wanted to be there to continue to work.
  2. He just thought it was wasteful to go out to lunch every day.
Waste of time and money, yet I saw fellow employees going to lunch every day who probably would have been better served making a sandwich.  They just didn't get it.

When we went out to dinner at night with our wives, Paul would ask the waiter for half of a salad.  He wouldn't do this to be frugal.  Paul asked to be charged for a full sized one, but he just didn't want to waste the food.

Again, all in how you are brought up. 

We run too fast, waste too much and cannot separate wants from needs. Don't grow to your dollars!

Monday, July 11, 2011


E-mail can be a very good tool for communication and it has taken over most businesses.  Unfortunately, e-mail can also be a very bad tool if you don't take the time to use it correctly.

We had to take a class at Bryant College about communication and one of the exercises that we had was concerning email:

Two people sat back to back and each had about 20-30 kids building blocks in front of them.  To start off, one of the sitters had to construct something using the blocks and after, we had to communicate with the other person what had been built.  Then, they had to build the same thing without looking at the other's.

It was amazing how difficult it was to communicate properly and most looked nothing like what it should have.

E-mail is pretty much the same.

When we speak to someone face to face, we can use facial expressions or voice inflictions to help convey our thoughts.  There is also more interactive communication with the person you are speaking to who can interrupt and help shape the conversation.  You can also share much of those same traits over the phone but with e-mail, it is a one way conversation.

You can also have a tendency to vent more in e-mail and possibly let out your frustrations.  Even if that may not have been your intent with the recipient not being able to hear your infliction or tone, it may be taken the wrong way.

Perhaps the person you are e-mailing is having a bad day or is frustrated with something else and therefore, jumps to the wrong conclusion with your email.

Take your time when creating or answering email.  It may be best to type it, minimize it and read it again later in the day if your emotions are running high.  

Email can be a good tool, but if you feel it escalating, pick up the phone and say "hi".

Friday, July 8, 2011

An E-Mail from Another Satisfied Customer

"Thank you for your recent e-mail. We have not received a service evaluation as of yet but I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to tell you about our recent move with Arpin Van Lines. Let me start by telling you we moved, March 2003, from Arizona to North Carolina and had Arpin Van Lines move us then. When we were told we were moving, this time from North Carolina back to Arizona, I specially requested Arpin Van Lines because we had such an effortless move last time. While I was impressed with Arpin, during our 2003 move, I certainly never expected the kind of service we received this time. Marisela, for lack of better words, is truly a goddess! She made this entire process seem effortless. When she said she would call us back it seemed within minutes she was back to us, when she said she would arrange for something to get done, it was not only done but it was done fast.  She never once answered the phone without a “smile” in her voice and at times I am sure she wanted to scream. By the time our move was complete I felt like I was talking to a family member. I can’t tell you how proud you should be to have an associate like Marisela representing your company. I dealt with Rita for a short time but she was very pleasant and efficient.

Then we met Steve Martin, our driver. He was wonderful also. He is very personable, efficient and organized. I truly felt that he treat our items as if he was moving his own personal items. In North Carolina I was chatting with one of his crew members and he told me, he and one of the other men, had driven from Raleigh, which is about an 80 mile drive, to help Steve with our move. I asked why they had come so far and he said “Steve is one of the best to work with and that they would drive further just to work with Steve”. I was blown away. Now that is truly a testament of how great a guy Steve is. One of our pieces of furniture had to be crated, which Marisela arrange to have a third party company come out to do, when the two men arrived one of them was giving me a hard time about what portion of the TV stand needed to be crated and “what he was paid to do”. The man was rude and Steve could see I was losing my patience with him. At this point Steve called me over to him and said “Janet, don’t worry I will take care of the rest for you, don’t let them upset you”. Needless to say he took care of the pieces they didn’t want to crate and they all arrived safely and in one piece at our new home. By the way, I did report them to Marisela who assured me she would have made sure they got paid for whatever they did. I think they just didn’t want to work. When Steve was due to arrive at our home in Peoria, he called to inform us that there was a rollover accident on I10 so he would be delayed a couple of hours. This was fine with us and appreciated the call to let us know however once he did arrive, around noon, it was 119 degrees. I thought to myself there is no way they will finish today in this heat and now we wouldn’t have a place to stay, it was back to some hotel. Boy was I wrong!!! They not only finished, in what I would consider record time, but all of our items were placed and put together by bedtime. I was thrilled to just have my own bed. We would not hesitate to request to have Steve move us again.

In closing, I hope you can tell what a great experience we had with Arpin Van Lines. We would not hesitate to request your company again and recommend your company to others. Please pass on our thanks to all the members of your team for a job well done."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We All Have A Story

When you do take the time to listen, you find things out about a person that may help break down the walls.  We all have a story, a background and most likely, our own baggage.

As they say, you need to walk a mile in someone's shoes before you can judge them.  As we go through our work day, we can get caught up with things that are really unimportant and because we may have a lot on our plate, we have a tendency to be short with others.

Sometimes, it may not have anything to do with that particular person at the time, but more to do with the person we just hung up with or a family situation that we are dealing with.  Most of the time, if you talk long enough and have the patience, you can find out why the person is upset and help dismantle the tension.

Have you tried to find a bridge with that person or find out anything about them?

I do think that sometimes our social media sites can be a bit too intrusive but I also think it can shed more light on the people that you know and work with.  It makes them more real.  You find out that they do have a life...a family...hobbies and maybe it helps sparks other conversations.

I absolutely believe that most people want to do good and are good people.  What happens is sometimes, we get preconceived notions of people, perhaps from others or from a bad conversation that we had in the past.

We all say things at times that we know we could have said better or differently but words are hard to take back.  The hardest thing to learn and to practice is to let things go and forgive, but when we find that key, we will find freedom....freedom in our home life as well as our business life.

Many people keep things in but when you find out all the things they may be battling, you have a new found respect.

We have an agent in the Arpin system who has a lovely family, married with three young boys, all under 12.  One summer, the mother finds out she has cancer and needs to start chemotherapy right before the summer season.  On top of this, their house caught on fire and burned to the ground with everything in it.  We worked the whole summer together and she nor her husband ever let on to all that they had been going through.

She, her husband and three young boys lived in a trailer that whole summer while she had her treatments and went to work every day.

I didn't find out myself until our convention and that was only because my wife had a casual conversation with the mother.  When my wife told me that night, I was flabbergasted.  I had no idea.  I could not imagine what their days and nights must have been like that summer.

Like I said, we all have stories.  Take the time to listen, ask, care and try to understand that we are all in this together.  Try to walk a mile in someone's shoes before you judge.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Impossible

We tackle difficult challenges every day in the busy season but the impossible may take a little longer to figure out.

During the busy season in the moving industry, it can feel like one big day.  You never really catch up or can sit back and say you're done.  So much relies on what others do or how each move goes on that particular day.

You are constantly changing and switching up.

There are many times you can stare at a day or week that is coming up and not know how in the world you are going to do it.  That is where accomplishing the impossible comes into play.  The business is people helping people and moving people.  To get through the day, agents, drivers and employees need to work together and at times, brainstorm on how to tackle the task at hand.

Every one of my 26 summers has been the same: you try to stuff 10 pounds of potatoes in a five pound sack.

Everyone in the U.S. wants to move when school's out and settle in their new location before school begins again.  They criss-cross all over the country at the same time from May to September.

It is impossible to staff enough help and drivers to accommodate everyone because we may move six million lbs of furniture in February and twenty million in June.

Paul Arpin would say that it is not so much what you do in the four months of the busy season as much as what you do the other eight months.  In other words, we know that we will always have more tonnage than we can handle in the summer but we cannot afford to let our quality or our reputation slip because that will affect what we do and receive the rest of the year.

In order to survive the busy season, there are many days that we somehow accomplish the impossible.  At the end of the week, you tend to look back and say, "how the heck did we do it?"  We do it by teamwork and some people, actually a lot of people, that go way beyond the normal work load.

It is a good feeling to be a part of that and witness it.

It is when people put aside the negative and focus on getting things done that the impossible becomes possible.