Archive for September, 2009

Market your business for less

September 29, 2009

guerilla marketingDon’t cut your marketing when times are tough! That’s the advice of many experts, but the question for the team at Reliable Delivery was: how do we market a Michigan delivery company when the budget is not there?

I found the answers in “Guerrilla Marketing Excellence” by Jay Conrad Levinson. Jay has been called the “Father of Guerrilla Marketing” and his books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. This book contains 50 golden rules for marketing. I’ve listed five of my favorites below.

Rule 1: Do not seek instant gratification, but find rewards with farsightedness. Six months ago, we began the process of revamping our Web site, www.reliabledelivery.com. Our old Web site barely promoted our Detroit delivery operation and did nothing for our other locations. Only recently have we seen results from these strategies, with more still to implement.  If you have a well thought-out plan, stick with it.

Rule 12: Do everything in your power to employ marketing techniques and tactics that are honest beyond reproach. While watching TV, I saw a commercial for a “miraculous” piece of plastic guaranteed to take my abs from pale and shapeless to tan, rippled, and glistening inside of eight weeks. Really? My abs aside, if you want repeat business, your promises need to be based on reality. When you are unable to fulfill those promises do what you can to fix the error.

Rule 27: Marketing will succeed only if time and energy are regularly devoted to it. You don’t need the resources of a Fortune 500 company to have great marketing, but you do need to take the time to make sure it’s right. Creating keywords for our Web site was a painful process. It took months of questions and talking to customers to narrow us down to Michigan delivery, Detroit delivery and same-day delivery, to name a few. Now we spend our time analyzing reports to make sure these words are actually helping people find us on the major search engines.dollarsigneyes

Rule 32: Realize that everyone to whom you market is a human being first. Don’t focus on your profits. Focus on the customer. What are their needs? And how do we, as an organization, solve them? Learn to treat marketing as a one-on-one experience rather than a mass-selling device.

Rule 33: Avoid humor unless it is pertinent to your offering and does not detract from your offer. This one I really didn’t agree with at first. Like most people, I really enjoy funny commercials, especially the Super Bowl commercials. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I find myself talking about how funny the commercial was but it didn’t create an urge to buy. Make sure any humor doesn’t overshadow the message of your marketing.

There are 45 more rules with great information about marketing and plenty of other resources at the Guerilla Marketing website. If you have any creative ideas about marketing please leave me a comment or contact me at aalberts@reliabledelivery.com or @adamalberts on Twitter.

Technology is one easy route to cutting costs and saving time

September 24, 2009

Who would have thought we’d ever reach a day where we could get minute by minute updates on our friends and family? The advancement of technology can provide a lot more value than just knowing what your friends are eating for dinner or where they like to shop.  Technology is also helping hospitals and other businesses with the all too important task of cutting cost and improving productivity.

In 2003 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center began implementing speech recognition and computer-aided medical transcription technology. This solution from Nuance Healthcare Solutions, called eScription, allows clinicians to dictate and record information from patient visits into handheld devices that sends the information to a server to be changed to text. What normally would take up to 5 days to turnaround medical records has been reduced to less than an hour and saved the medical center over $5 million dollars since 2003.

At Reliable Delivery, we are using software to build routes with stops that are optimized to meet delivery deadlines and lower costs for several Michigan hospitals and pharmacies. ArcLogistics - Map ViewRoute drivers also carry handheld devices that provide real time proof of delivery, barcode scanning and even signature capture. All of our same day deliveries can be tracked via our website and allows a customer to view detailed order information and analyze trends, costs and areas of improvement. Laboratory manager Stephanie Eckley, MT (ASCP), of Saint Mary’s Health Care says, “The Web order system they offer has made a great difference in our day-to-day operations. It greatly improved the overall transmission of our information. For us, that’s been the most valuable benefit of working with Reliable Delivery.”

With technology constantly changing and evolving, who knows what the future holds. If you would like to read the full article on Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center please click here.

A Day in the Life of Reliable Delivery Courier

September 22, 2009

Reliable Delivery Driver

Fourteen hours; 399 miles; and 34 critical deliveries. That’s one day in my weekly routine at Reliable.

Ever see the Sprint commercial that shows how the world might be if delivery pros ran it? The idea is simple: we make tough logistical problems easy. It’s something that I do every day as a Michigan courier from Reliable Delivery’s Grand Rapids operations. And many of those days, I go home feeling a sense of accomplishment, and that I really helped people do something important.

On any given day, I spend the morning dispatching jobs all across the state of Michigan to our busy crew of delivery drivers before hitting the road. Reliable Delivery uses what we call a “free call” system. This allows our drivers to freely call on jobs that they are in the best position to take, saving our customers time.

We have a diverse base of customers, but a growing segment is health care. One route for Saint Mary’s Hospital includes 20 stops, including carrying vital patient lab tests from the hospital and its satellite locations to the lab. Like everyone else, I know waiting for the doctor to call with test results can be nerve-racking. We take our mission seriously. Just recently, Reliable had three live kidneys being delivered to donor recipients in three different locations. The kidneys absolutely had to arrive on time and in pristine condition. It doesn’t get more serious than that.

All said, in one day, I made 34 stops for our customers.  I drove 399 miles, and went home knowing that I had indirectly helped these people and wanted to get up the next day and do it again. This an example of what our 300-plus drivers do every day.

Call Center Connections

September 17, 2009

If you’re anything like me, the thought of calling a call center to place an order or address an issue immediately causes migraine headaches.  Everyone has experienced a personal call center disaster that they never want to reoccur.

More often than not, a call to a customer service line will connect you to someone half-way around the world or to a front-line CSR (Customer Service Representative) who doesn’t have the authority or tools to help you in the moment.  After 15 minutes of office transfers, repeating information to one person after another, or being told that the one and only thing you need can’t be handled through them, but if you call another number … you get the idea.  The end result is the connection with the customer is lost and getting it back will take twice the work as finding a solution for their needs the first time around.

Through both booming and struggling economic conditions, Reliable Delivery has always valued the connection that the call center has made with our customers.  All call center employees are trained in the basics of customer service – but it doesn’t stop there.  All CSR’s are enrolled in off-site training, seminars, and in-house customer service training programs.  The latest seminar the Reliable Delivery call center team attended was hosted by Fred Pryor.  The seminar titled “How to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service” not only improved our customer service skills but also strengthened the bond that our team already shared with one another.  Managers and members of our Leadership Team have graduated from Dale Carnegie Business Training.  We take the principles that we learned and pass them on to our CSR’s.  This concept of continuous improvement helps empower employees to continue evolving and learning.  The bond that is built with the team is passed on to each and every caller as we gain experience and knowledge.

The customer-first culture at Reliable Delivery encourages all employees to make connections with customers.  Immediately recognizing a happy, helpful voice does wonders for both customer and center employee alike, but having that helpful voice provide you an immediate solution, without making three or four stops in between, does some pretty amazing things to customer relationships as well.

Visit our website at www.reliabledelivery.com to find the logistics/transportation solution you’ve been looking for.

Interested in Fred Pryor Seminars?  Visit www.pryor.com

Interested in Dale Carnegie Training?  Visit www.dalecarnegie.com

Still Going – An Economic Survivor

September 15, 2009

Reliable Delivery team

Operating as a Michigan Delivery Company presents some interesting challenges in today’s economy.  As most know, because of the hard-hit automotive industry, Michigan has become a national symbol of the economic downturn.  With offices in Grand Rapids, Flint and Romulus, Michigan, Reliable Delivery has ample investment in the state. 

We have more than 200 employees and independent contractors that continue to support their families through some of our nation’s toughest times.  Yet even during these times … we’re growing.  We’ve actually acquired over 500 new customers in the last year.

We determined from the beginning of the down-turn that if we were going to keep our team employed and continue to gain new market share, we were going to commit to increasing our spending in marketing and sales.  We were determined not to contract and wait for things to get better before investing in new business.

Some time ago we had resolved to structure our sales and marketing efforts to build a broad customer base rather than focusing exclusively on automotive manufacturing or any single industry like so many in Michigan.  That proved to be an important advantage.  If any one market contracts, another expands, providing a steady stream of business and opportunity.

Another aspect of our business strategy which has worked to our advantage, is rather than establish a one-size-fits-all approach to our services, we design custom solutions for our clients that solve their biggest delivery headaches.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a medical delivery for a hospital or a manufacturing delivery; all businesses today are looking for ways to reduce the cost of their distribution systems.  We spend a lot of our time working with business decision makers finding ways to outsource warehousing, distribution and delivery services.  In many instances we have even been able to hire those that have lost positions in these companies because of downsizing.

Discovering new ways to help our customers reduce cost and find new efficiencies has by far been the most important way to ensure our growth, both now and in the future.

Our recession is not over and, so far, we have been blessed in that our people have continued to maintain their income and Reliable Delivery has continued to add customers.  We and our customers are in the proverbial “eye of the storm” but working together, we’re finding we can not only survive the recession, but find unique ways to grow now and in the future.