Friday, September 30, 2011

The Driver

As we have said in an earlier blog the term "driver" does not do justice to what our men and woman do out there every day that move household goods. Our industry continues to reference our movers as "drivers" so for that reason I will refer to them as such, but know that we have much more respect for our professional household movers.

A Van Line or an agency is nothing without their drivers. Paul Arpin had said that to me throughout my years working with him.

Paul knew that no matter how hard we worked here in the home office or at the agency level we all rely on the man or woman that walks up the sidewalk and rings the bell to actually move the furniture. Paul should know because that is exactly what he did years ago as a young man.

It is also how he met his loving wife for over 50 years. Paul met Peg while moving her family from New York to R.I.

We all are very important spokes in the wheel and our job is to go out and get the work and to try to retain it and maintain it. Rather you are a dispatcher, customer care rep, salesman or surveyor our job is to gather all the information we can and get it to the packers and loaders in time for them to prepare to do a quality job.

If the move goes well many take credit and they do have a hand in it's success but it is the men and women on the job site picking up that couch and walking it down the staircase so that it does not touch and walls and then wraps it up and loads it on the trailer and gets it to it's destination safely that are our backbone (literally and figuratively).

As we all panic and get anxious as we sit at our desk because I move may not be going smooth or we just found out on the day of the load or unload that a shuttle is required we need to remember that as frustrated as we may get it is the driver on the job that is actually doing the work. As I said in my last blog keep prospective. Gather the information and help "them" the driver on the site. Work the problem do not become the problem through being over dramatic.

It can be difficult when you have an account, base or customer losing patience on the phone with you but stay calm, gather the info and help with solutions and choices and always remember who is truly is our front line and who is doing their best, in some times a tough situation- our drivers.

Without them we are nothing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Five A's of Rebuilding Trust

The Five A’s of Rebuilding Trust

Acknowledge that trust has been broken.

Don’t use the “ostrich” technique of burying your head in the sand and hoping the situation will resolve itself because it won’t. The longer you wait to address the situation, the more people will perceive your weakness as wickedness.

Admit your role in causing the breach of trust.

For some leaders this may be a challenging step. It’s one thing to acknowledge that there is a problem, it’s a whole other thing to admit you caused it. Our ego and false pride are usually what prevent us from admitting our mistakes. Muster up the courage, humble yourself, and own up to your actions. This will pay huge dividends down the road as you work to rebuild trust.

Apologize for what happened.

A sincere apology involves admitting your mistake, accepting responsibility, asking for forgiveness, and taking steps to make amends to the offended party. Explaining the reasons why something happened is fine, but don’t make excuses by trying to shift the blame to something or someone other than yourself.

Assess where the breakdown in trust happened using the TrustWorks model.

Did you erode trust by not being Able, Believable, Connected, or Dependable? People form perceptions of our trustworthiness when we use, or don’t use, behaviors that align with these four elements of trust. Knowing the specific element of trust you violated will help you take specific actions to fix the problem.

Amend the situation by taking corrective action to repair any damage that has been done, and create an action plan for how you’ll improve in the future.

Your attempts at rebuilding trust will be stalled unless you take this critical step to demonstrate noticeable changes in behavior.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


One important part of operations, managing or overall success, is to always have a plan "B".

The best way to dispatch is to plan plenty ahead and help set up as many factors as possible.  Give the packers and the haulers all any participants all the information that they will need to make their job easier and to have a successful move.

Call ahead, check on estimates and confirm any third party services.

If you are a driver, you need to set your labor up well in advance and be sure you have all the material that you will need to do the job properly and THE TIME TO DO not rush.

If schedules are tight, it is always best to talk about a plan "B" just in case. You do not want it to be the day before a pack or load or delivery and having to figure out how it will get done.

This takes teamwork and early discussions of what is needed and what other factors may come into play.

After doing this for so long, I actually find myself doing this in my personal life as well.  Rather planning a vacation or just who is picking who up, I find that pre-planning and looking ahead always helps.

Always have a plan "B" but even that will only help if you are ahead of the process.

There are many times that I think of something after the intial plan or thought process.  Just because you have a move planned or planned on you, it does not mean the planning stops.  Every day you need to look and ask questions.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top Challenges for New Managers

Top Challenges for New Managers

"One of the big challenges for new managers is learning to recognize and appreciate that not everyone approaches work the same way that they do. Some of the most dangerous words for a leader to use are, 'Well, if it were me, this is what I would do.' When we do that, it keeps us from understanding, embracing, and working successfully with other people's behavior," says Ann Phillips, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.
"Many people are promoted into managerial positions because they were great individual contributors. Because they had so much success with a certain way of working—be it strong planning or attention to detail or great execution skills—they may have a difficult time understanding that other people don't necessarily work that way.
"For these managers, the big challenge is avoiding the tendency to do the work themselves when things don’t work out,” explains Phillips. “It's hard for these new managers to let others run with the ball even when they have demonstrated competence and commitment for the task. It's not easy for them to let go and trust that the work will get done without their direct intervention."

The importance of trust

Phillips also recommends that new managers balance high expectations with equally high levels of support and caring.
"People have to trust you as a leader," she explains. "That begins by being genuine, showing that you care, and doing what you say you will do.
"As a new manager, it's important to get your management style moving in the right direction. People need to know that you have their best interests in mind, that you are setting them up to win, and that you mean them no harm. It's important to live up to those expectations. Things are always going to come up. When people know that you truly care, that can cover a lot of situations and people will forgive your mistakes and continue to follow you."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Do I Handle the Stress?

Recently, I was asked by one of our dispatchers, "how do I handle the stress?"

Good question.

Especially after a summer season...and especially after the summer season of 2011.

We all have stress in our lives, the more responsibility you have, the more stress you will endure.

If you are single, trying to make ends meet and start a career, if you are married with a young family, need to handle the responsibility of raising young children while trying to balance a career and a budget, or if you manage people, you will have stress.

It is how you decide to handle that stress is where you will grow, succeed and enjoy life or not.



It can be hard to do but in the course of the whirlwind, you need to keep your total perspective.  A major part of stress is when something does not go as planned.  (Which in itself can be a problem because we can only plan so will unfold as it will.)

We get aggravated and stressed because someone did not do their part.  Sometimes, because of that, your work load just got harder and other people may suffer because of it.

First - Keep Perceptive

Overall in the grand scheme of things how important is it?  Do you have health? Are your family members healthy? Sounds crazy but start there because everything else is material.

Second - Always Do Your Best, Be Honest and Prepare

Gather the facts and look over all solutions.  You will have time to look back and see who, what and why an error may have occurred and you should so that you can learn from it.  That said, you need to stay focused on solutions when you first hear of a situation.

We get stressed because others may not act or have a work ethic as you would like or did not do their job properly but in the end, the ONLY person that you truly control is yourself so let it go.  You can advise, guide and help but other than allow yourself to get stressed over useless.

Look ahead, prepare, be honest with yourselves and others and do your best.
Try to learn from situations and learn personalities.
You cannot change others so do your best to work with them and change yourselves.

I love the lyrics from a song that says

Work like you don't need the money
Laugh like you're not afraid to cry and
Dance like nobody is watching

We can get caught up so much with worrying about money and your position in your work place that it stifles what you can do and can add stress.  Work like you don't need the money.

Laugh...always remember that life is short, keep perceptive of things.  Smile, laugh and I guarantee it will be returned.

Stop being self conscience and worrying about what others like nobody is watching because in the end...who really cares?

Have fun, work hard and try to help others and you will not go

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Wizard of OZ


Avoid The Wizard of Oz Syndrome

May we avoid being the guy behind the smoke and curtain with the loud voice if that is not who we are.
Many of us have tried, are trying, or will try to put out a certain image of ourselves because (1) we are not comfortable in our own skin, (2) we think people want someone different, (3) or we aspire to be more.
The “Great and Mighty Oz” was being someone he was not.  Did you see the disappoint on the face of every character in the movie?  They were led to believe he was this person only to discover he was not being authentic.
May we not disappoint those we lead by being someone we are not.  Plus, it takes a lot of work and attention to detail to construct a false character when it would just be easier to be authentic.  This shift in your leadership may very well be the maneuver that changes everything
 Go for it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Comments from our Drivers

From an article from CNN entitled Portraits of a changed America, below is a statement from long time Arpin driver Paul Adams....

I head back into the showroom, where I find Paul Adams, a 67-year-old Air Force veteran from Little River, South Carolina. His primary job these days is moving families from place to place. His main client: the nation's soldiers and Marines.
Every time he leaves one of their homes he offers a salute: "A veteran to a soldier, for everything you're doing for me, thank you."
He speaks in a voice as smooth as Morgan Freeman's. The biggest impact for truckers is at the gas pump: Gas cost $1.53 a gallon on 9/11. They also face extra security checks everywhere they go now. "If I had to take off every piece of furniture, I wouldn't mind. Whatever it takes to make this country safe."
On a recent trip to Washington state, he says, a motorcade escorted a truck that barreled by him. The rig carried a beam from the towers.
"I stopped and saluted. That's how it affected me," he says. "That's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen."

From a past Arpin Driver and his comment on the blog - driver appreciation.....

Good morning Dave.

I really appreciate how you worded this blog. I felt I was a good driver in the moving industry. I really miss it. I love being home with my family, but I feel like something is missing. I will get back out there (probably in the spring) ready to be better than I ever have before.  The industry has it's problem, I suppose they all do. However, I cannot imagine doing anything else with the pride and satisfaction I had moving families. I look forward to seeing you this spring. Until then, take it easy.

Comment from a driver on the blog piece of driver appreciation.....
Well said. I was 15 years on the road. Thank you. You made my day.

From another long time over the road Arpin driver on the Appreciation blog....

Out of all the movie tickets, hats and dinner coupons that you've given me over the years, that was the most heartfelt, and sincere statement that I've ever read and it feels damn good to know that someone truly understands what this job is all about. You can't please everyone, but you seem to know those that give their 100%. We appreciate you as well and keep the hats and dinner coupons coming ! Lol

From one of our top agents....on our post on driver appreciation..

They are NOT drivers, they are MOVING SPECIALISTS. And I agree, they are all you said .  It’s a tough job and the majority of them put their whole hearts into.

Monday, September 12, 2011

We appreciate you

The week of September 11th-17th is National Driver Appreciation Week but to be honest, here at Arpin Van Lines, EVERY WEEK is Driver Appreciation Week.

I always feel that, at least when it comes to the driver in the Domestic Household Industry, that the term "driver" just does not do it justice.  To be a good household "driver", you need to be part lawyer, with all the paperwork that you need to do.

You need to be part minister or philologist to help with people as they try to deal with one of the most stressful occasions that they will endure.

You need to be able to juggle a home life from thousands of miles away from home.

You need to be able to know how to carry that dresser down the third floor winding stairs without touching the walls or bannisters, then figure out where it will fit best as you build the tiers in your trailer.

You need to know how to maneuver a tractor with a 53" trailer behind it through all the side roads and city streets.

You need to be congenial with all the agents that you drive into knowing that you need their help and assistance as much as they need you.

You need to have a smile on your face throughout the process and be able to focus on that one customer on that one day even though you know that after that customer, you will need to get in your trucks and drive a couple of hundred miles to possibly do it all over again the next day.

You need to be able to explain the whys and why nots to people who don't do what you do in order to justify why you are doing it, again with a positive attitude and smile so not to turn people off or have them act defensive.

I can probably keep going on but I think you get the point.  I have no idea how you do what you do but thank goodness that you do.

You are a true professional.

What you do is no different then what an artist or musician does...or a carpenter or an architect.

What you do is a gift, one that can be learned over time, but still a gift.

Thank you all for what you do every day.  We truly appreciate and admire your professionalism, your craft and your sacrifices.


Thursday, September 8, 2011


I enjoy sports, concerts and live events in particular.

Through the years, I have collected autographs of people in sports and music.  My downstairs, since the middle 80's, has pictures, jerseys, footballs, baseballs and drawings of who I consider to be at the top of their game.

When my children were small, I tried to instill in them whom I believe to be a hero.

Sport heroes, as well as musicians and actors, are heroes in a sense because of their self dedication that they need to practice their craft, their discipline and for sight to accomplish what they set out to do.  They should be admired and supported for those reasons.

With that said, a true hero (a person, typically a man or woman, who is admired for courage or noble qualities) is around us everyday.  Your teachers, firemen, policemen, moms and dads that sacrifice every day for their families are true heroes.

I work with a lady whose son fought in Afghanistan.  He was one of the first troops sent over at the beginning of our war.  He was 21 and in heroic fashion, while in combat, he was shot in the foot.  His mom found out he was shot while at home on Mother's Day.  All she was told was that her son had been shot and more news were to follow.

The next 72+ hours were the longest of her life.

His only regret after being air lifted to a hospital in Germany for help was that he was unable to stay with his brothers in his battalion.

He is my hero.

My daughter works as an English teacher in one of the inner city high schools.  She has been teaching since she graduated college and could of taught anywhere in the state but she chose the inner city schools.  Schools where she knew it may be difficult for several reasons.  When I asked her why, she said they deserve good teachers that truly care and counted herself as one of them.

One of her students came up to me one year after a school event and told my wife and myself that it was because of my daughter that he finished school and that she had made a difference in his life.

She has gone on to touch many more lives and will continue to do so.

She is my hero.

I work with another young lady who is in her early twenties.  She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl about three years ago and she raises her all by herself.

She does not know every day how she will make it through the week or the month but she does it, one day at a time.  She loves that girl and is sacrificing every day for her and when you see them together, you know that she is going a good job.

She is my hero.

As I write this, the United States is about to celebrate the 10th anniversary of  9/11, the terrorist act that resulted in over 3,000 American lives lost in NY, PA and DC.

We celebrate the heroism of all the firemen and policemen that ran into the very buildings that people were running out of in order to help save lives.

It is what they do everyday, they are regular people who have extraordinary ideals and sacrifice their own lives for people they do not even know because of what they believe in.

They are my heroes.

Look around you, take the time to see and to appreciate the people that are in your lives.  If you see a soldier at an airport or somewhere in uniform, thank them.  If you know a fireman or a police officer and pass one, be sure to let them know you appreciate them.

Has a teacher helped mold or guide you in the past?  Drop them a line and tell them.

If you know of a co-worker, friend or family member that is working hard to make ends meet and to maintain a good family, let them know that they are doing something important.

Heroes are all around us...every single day.

If you have time click on the link below and watch a video tribute

Monday, September 5, 2011


I always contend that I can teach anyone how to dispatch if they are willing to learn BUT they need one common foundation and that is they need to care about people.

Ultimately to succeed in life and in any business, you need to care about others.

If your approach is always purely selfish, then you will fail.

You can not grow and learn by being in a bubble.  You can only succeed by building a team around you that cares the same as you.

Be passionate, as our successful drivers say they treat the customer's furniture as if it was their own.  They have the foundation.

You can't fake it or just draw upon it when you need it.  YOU EITHER CARE OR YOU DON'T.

If you approach each conversation or issue or challenge as if it was personal, as if it was you or a loved one who would be effected, then you may think differently.  You may talk differently.

Without a true foundation, you will never reap the true rewards or reach your true potential.

Treat each other as you would like to be treated. 

Friday, September 2, 2011


Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

A Nationwide Holiday
The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy.

It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadershipthe American worker.