The Chairman's Corner
by Jay Casey
I hope the summer is going well. In just a few weeks, the kids will all be back in school. I wanted to share a story with you from last Sunday. We finished up Mass and were heading to our favorite Sunday breakfast spot when Katie, our 10-year-old, asked, “Mommy, when can I get a phone?” And without hesitation, Anna replied, “When you are 15!” I quickly turned, looked at Anna with that did-I-just–hear-you-right look I do so well. I was surprised that Anna was so comfortable bestowing such a big responsibility at such an early age to our eldest daughter. So me, being the tough guy that we all know I am, said, “Anna, don’t you think that is a little young? Besides, I didn’t have a cellphone when I was 15.” My beautiful wife then reminded me that there were no cellphones when we were 15.
Technology has changed so much in just a short amount of time. It has infiltrated all aspects of our lives. It has definitely changed the moving industry. I know many of you have years more experience in the moving industry than I do. I wanted to share with you some of my experiences with our industry and technology.
When we look back at preparing estimates, the carbon paper was our archenemy! I remember doing the inventory and forgetting to flip the carbon paper over when writing up the estimate … what a mess! Now, we have Techmate International, IGC Software, van line proprietary programs and many other high-tech ways to wow our customers. Giving us the ability to show off all of our technological bells and whistles.
Tariff book, what’s that? I think this improvement is one of the better technological advances we have seen. Most of the software allows the salesmen to track closing ratios, run reports and give accurate pricing at the customer’s home. This has been a great improvement and I encourage all of you, if you are not onboard already, to learn about the options that are out there. Just simply talk with one of our Associate members that offer these services to learn more.
How has technology affected our drivers? Really, drivers have not changed much; professionalism and hard work is still of utmost importance. However, we see technology improving our ability to service our customers. We can track our driver’s every move. Now, when the customer calls in, we have the ability to inform them by telling them exactly where their driver is, and when they will be on-site. When I was a driver, I had a pager and sometimes when I had to check in, I may have stretched the truth a little on my location. Those days are long gone. This has been a great improvement and an invaluable tool to have when communicating with our customers.
Technology has changed the way we inventory as well. It seems we are seeing more bar codes on boxes and furniture than the old inventory stickers. Long gone are the days of multiple color sticker codes! This allows some drivers to perform inventory on their smartphones and tablets.
Our move management systems are state of the art. This allows us to document customer and coordinator conversations. It keeps the customer up to date from start to finish. Most programs now are all web-based leaving our AS3600 and AS400 in the e-waste bin.
I think one of the biggest changes we have all seen, good and bad, is the way we communicate. We are no longer picking up a phone and hearing a voice on the other end. We are sending hundreds of emails and texts daily. When was the last time you replied to an email by phone? Email has become a large part of our lives. Many of us check it when we get up in the morning and it is non-stop throughout the day. Face-to-face communication is what our fathers did and they did it well, and somehow we have made a 180-degree turn on this. I believe in some cases email is not the best vehicle to communicate. Sure, it is easier to tell someone “No” in a text or email or “I’m sorry.” But, I think looking at someone in the eye or hearing their voice goes a long way. I’m just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to email responses. It really hits home when I’m out of the office for the day (golfing) and my dad calls to check in and asks where I am and I respond by “I sent you an email.” Old school might have had it right. Nothing replaces a good, old-fashioned call from a landline phone. Technology is here to stay and has made our lives a ton easier. However, maybe we should find a happy medium and use technology to its fullest, but also remember to establish and continue business friendships by picking up the phone a little more rather than typing on our keyboard. So, I guess the big questions are: Why is my fax number on my business card? And who faxes anymore?
- CMSA Communicator