Early in my career, I learned that when you work for a company, you are a representative of that company. Many times, you’re the only person that the customer may see or hear from when on the job, so it’s important to make a good impression.
I began my truck driving career by working for two different private carriers. The first company was Weaver’s Chicken. The management taught us that as drivers, we were the most important salespeople as we had more interaction with the customers than anyone else in the company. My job was servicing the food service industry by providing route sales throughout the county at various establishments. The product offerings we produced always changed which enabled me to sell many new items offered to our customers within my route system. Many times, I would bring samples and share what items were selling well at our own company stores. This of course led to increased business and profits. I also benefited as my hours increased with more pay.
My second place of employment was Grinnell Supply Sales in Charlotte, NC. Here, I was responsible for delivering products primarily to fire sprinkler system fabricators. My old Weaver’s lesson came into play at this particular job for two reasons. First, I talked management into allowing the drivers to actually assist in selling the product to the fabricators. Often, this was accomplished by taking samples or brochures of new products. The second area which really stood out on one particular occasion was to never bad mouth the company you work for to the customer.
I remember finishing up on my daily delivery route around noon on a Friday afternoon. At this point, we usually reloaded for Monday’s deliveries. However, on this day, my boss explained that I now needed to deliver a rush shipment to Raleigh, NC which is a three hour drive. I had evening plans that Friday night so this wasn’t sitting very well as I knew with traffic, I would be back very late. I realized this was a valued customer so I loaded the truck and headed off to Raleigh. When I arrived at the consignee, I was asked… “Why did you bring this shipment today so late on a Friday?” I explained that my boss said “you needed the product today.” I was informed that they did not need the material until the following week. Although inside, I was disappointed in having given up my Friday night, I remained professional and kindly asked that they unload since I was already there. They agreed and the shipment was unloaded.
Now…here is where the story gets interesting. While they were unloading me, a driver from a welding supply company arrived and he was very upset as he walked into the receiving office and asked “Who ordered this load to be delivered so late on a Friday afternoon?” Needless to say, this driver was very upset especially when he was also told that they didn’t need the product until the following week. He proceeded to go on a rant about his company and how they made him deliver to this establishment when they didn’t even need the product that day. Let’s just say… I’m sure glad this was not an employee of mine as he was definitely not a good representative of the company he worked for.
At this point, a man responsible for ordering the material in receiving walked out where we were being unloaded and wondered why we were delivering this product so late on a Friday afternoon. I informed him that my boss requested me to deliver that afternoon and I was following orders. At this point, we were made aware that the man who placed the orders had just placed them that morning due to the fact that he was going on vacation the following week. Somewhere along the line there was a communication breakdown and both shippers misunderstood and thought the shipments had to be there that day.
While driving back to Charlotte, all I could think of was how the other driver represented his company. His negative attitude towards everyone at the consignee could have convinced them that he really did work for a bad company. If in his effort he was successful, where would that leave him in terms of employment?
The same principles learned working for private carriers went into use when I started Albert Transport in 1996. 20 years later, I’m still using the same lessons learned at the very beginning of my career. Some things never go out of style.