Every business owner knows that to be successful you have to find your niche and those special qualities in yourself and your business that will make you stand out from your competition.

Customers don’t always shop on price alone. They want value and it’s up to you to create ways in which to increase your value in the market. For example, you can offer something that your competition doesn’t. Observe or call your competition to hear how they do things and figure out ways to elevate your game.

Many businesses today are not even doing the basics in regards to offering good customer service. Have you had poor service recently at an establishment? How does it make you feel? Wouldn’t it be much better to be treated like a VIP. It’s one thing to get a loaf of crispy French bread at your local bakery that tastes like a million dollars. It’s another thing to have it served to you by a person who obviously hates their job.

Many times in my business during the loading process or delivery to our customers, I would take a box of fresh doughnuts to the shipping department. They always enjoyed having that small treat in the morning. Doing this also invited good positive conversation with those who enjoyed the doughnuts. If it was a very hot day, I would bring some iced tea and sodas. The workers loading/unloading on the hot pavement with the sun beating down on them in very hot/humid temperatures sure enjoyed those cold drinks in the afternoon. These people never forgot me and were always appreciative. It’s not that you have to do a lot for people but sometimes a small personal thing can go really far. For me, this was a way to personalize my service to our customers.

Find ways to add more value or improve your service. Anything you can do to assist your shipper in making their job easier goes a long way. Always smile, be friendly and have a good attitude. If an issue should arise, handle it with professionalism and seek the best solution. Your personal appearance is very important and should always be neat, clean and professional. To set your business apart, you could create a uniform for yourself to include company colors and your business logo.

For me, I have broken the rules so to speak…what flatbed driver do you know wears a button down uniform shirt with a tie every day to work? Don’t be afraid to be different. Yes, it might mean taking a risk and going it alone. I have had my fellow drivers laugh in my face and make negative remarks about my professional appearance. Sometimes it’s good to be talked about and stand out from the crowd. You can’t set yourself apart if you’re always following what everyone else is doing. Take a chance…

Once you have secured and are working for your customers, make sure to follow up with them. I am surprised how many people don’t follow up or check in to see how service is performing. Customers may neglect to bring up small things but when you ask if you can make any improvements, they will be more willing to share their issues with you.

Trucking is a people business so establishing and maintaining those long term business relationships will put you on the road to success. I hope this helps in establishing some ways to set your business apart from the competition.



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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/T™, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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