Archive for October, 2009

Leadership

October 29, 2009

The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.

–Rick Warren

Dictionary.com says to lead is “to go before or with, to show the way; to guide in direction, course, action, or opinion”

Reliable Delivery works hard at being a leader in the transportation, warehousing and logistics industries. In these industries, that often means learning from others to keep pace with how the business is changing. The pace of change continues to accelerate. Anyone that is not involved in continuous learning is lagging. Without constant education you would never be able to “show the way” or “guide” anyone.

That is why two members of our Leadership Team are presently in Dallas, Texas, attending training provided by the International Warehouse & Logistics Association (IWLA). As members of this organization we take advantage of their ongoing education opportunities.

A few of the topics covered in Dallas will include:

• Using Logistics & Warehousing to Gain a Competitive Advantage

• Warehouse Law

• Warehouse Security

• Inventory Control Technology

Knowledge of these and many other aspects of warehousing and logistics give our team exactly what we need to design in-depth solutions for our clients. It makes no difference if it’s a Detroit delivery or Grand Rapids warehousing, it gives our partners the confidence to know that they can trust this important part of their business to Reliable so that they can direct their time, effort and energy toward their core business.

I am sure when they return from Dallas our team members would tell you that ongoing learning is the hardest part of leading. But I am also sure they would tell you that they would not have it any other way.

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

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Delivering to Those in Need

October 27, 2009

fooddrivedtw

It’s no secret that in these times, more families are facing financial struggles. As the unemployment rates soar more of our friends and neighbors are in need of help to get through the difficult times. Not every family has a kitchen stocked with food, and some people have already laid their plan for the month where every dime will go. In these times, giving back is more important than ever before.

The people at Reliable Delivery have come together to have a Thanksgiving Food Drive. All of our Michigan delivery and Ohio delivery offices will be utilized as drop-off locations. We are reaching out to our friends, vendors and customers to assist us in collecting food for families in need, because no one should have to go hungry.

We would love for you to help us:

Where:

Donations can be dropped off at any one of our locations, given to any of our couriers, or contact us for pick up:

Romulus:  6774 Brandt St, Romulus

(M-Sa, anytime)

Toledo: 6010 Skyview Dr, Toledo

(M-F, 9am-5pm)

Flint:  3201 S. Grand Traverse St, Flint

(M-F, 9am-5pm)

Grand Rapids: 3420 Kraft Ave SE, Grand Rapids

(M-F, 9am-5pm)

Deadline:  November 18th, Wednesday

Examples of needed donations include:

FOOD

Cereal

Flour

Sugar

Pasta & Sauce

Beans

Rice

Tuna (and other canned protein)

Chili

Mac & Cheese

Pudding Cups

Peanut Butter

Jelly

PERSONAL ITEMS

Hand Soap

Toothpaste

Deodorant

Toilet Tissue

Kleenex

Shampoo

Disposable Razors

Shaving Cream

All Laundry Products

BABY ITEMS

Baby Food

Diapers (all sizes)

TIPS

Do Bring

Small sizes (not economy sizes)

Personal care items

Non-perishable items

Do Not Bring

Open containers of food

Homemade or home canned food

Shellfish such as clams or shrimp

Health Care Reform – Michigan’s Response

October 22, 2009

By Kathy and Kendra

“These are the good old days!” was the tongue-in-cheek reaction of Connie Curran, an RN and president of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Curran Associates to proposed health care reform legislation and the potential effects on hospitals throughout the nation.  Ms. Curran was one of several speakers at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association’s Governance Leadership Forum held a week ago.

Michigan faces some unique challenges with the expected passing of federal Health Care Reform legislation.   Michigan is an aging state.  The MHA statistics show we are aging more rapidly than the rest of the nation, at the same time we have younger constituents moving out of the state for employment opportunities. Hospitals have also faced a drop in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursable rates.  Although health care is touted as the last economic engine in Michigan, hospitals alone have laid off more than 3,500 employees and will most likely face more layoffs when the legislation passes.  Keep in mind that the majority of hospital employees are female.   We were astounded to learn that the growth rate for uncompensated care is higher among the insured than the uninsured.  

There were a couple areas of expected reform that were echoed by all the MHA speakers.  First, health care organizations will be required to have more and better integration with other patient care delivery systems.  This should allow for increased communication, primarily through technological measures, that would allow for the patient’s medical history and information to follow them as they move between health care providers. 

Second, there is an expectation for improved care at lower costs.  This will require health care organizations to seek out partnerships with businesses that can contribute service equal to or greater than the organization’s ability to do so, at a much lower cost.  This made me think about a conversation I had with the Transportation Manager of a major hospital in the Metro Detroit area.  I was training her on our online order entry and tracking systems.   While I was covering the different service levels and vehicles we had available, the manager was surprised to learn that we had large trucks.  She relayed an incident when they had an unexpected high number of infants born one night.  They did not have enough warming bassinets on hand and had to scurry to borrow them from 3 or 4 neighboring hospitals.  Had she known, she could have called us and we would have had the resources to dispatch several vehicles at the same time to pick up and deliver the warming bassinets back to the hospital.  As we talked, we also discovered that this could have saved her not only time and a few headaches, but money as well.  She had to keep several employees on overtime and had only one vehicle available.  With our medical couriers, she would have only paid for the point-to-point deliveries and could have had all her bassinets on site within an hour or two.

One of the reasons we belong to the MHA is that as Michigan medical couriers, we want to stay on top of the specific industry difficulties and concerns that face our customers.   We were encouraged at the steps the MHA and its membership are taking to be frugal with resources, drive out waste while improving care, explore partnerships and find innovative ways to “thrive, not just survive” during these unstable times.

Read more about Reliable Delivery’s effective and value-adding partnership with Saint Mary’s Health Care here

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

Your Business Is Doomed To Fail

October 20, 2009

Business bankruptcies increased a dreadful 54 percent in 2008 compared to the year before. Business filings skyrocketed from 28,322 in 2007 to 43,546 in 2008. Needless to say, the statistics are grim.

This year may yield our highest bankruptcy figures ever and, with good reason, many business owners are afraid. As a business owner you need to be prepared, and sometimes, get out of your own way to face reality and recognize when your business is veering into trouble.

How do you recognize those? Well, if you or your company matches any of those described in “How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In,” by Jim Collins, you might need to take a closer look at your direction. 

You can read Collins’ description of the five stages of a company’s decline on Businessweek.com here.

Collins lays out each stage, including dangers to be cautious of as each level plunges you further into inevitable loss of your business.

In Stage 1: Hubris born of success.  Collins warns of arrogance within your business. This dangerous attitude breeds a sense of infallibility and causes you to lose sight of your weaknesses, sometimes until it’s too late.

In Stage 2: Undisciplined pursuit of more. Collins cautions businesses not to “make undisciplined leaps into areas they cannot be great in.” Faltering businesses must stay disciplined, and take calculated risks to build on the success they’ve already experienced.

In Stage 3: Denial of risk and peril. Be honest., and fearless about looking at the truth of your situation. The further you deny that your business is failing, the deeper the puncture holes on your ship. Soon you will be sinking, and it will be out of your control.

In Stage 4: Grasping for salvation. At this stage, the business’s failure is finally visible.  A stage four business will grab at straws, attempting any idea and following any option for possible success, the “silver-bullet” as Jim Collins calls it.

In Stage 5: Capitulation to irrelevance or death. At this point, the company’s financial backbone has broken.  It’s game over. The business has lost relevance in its market and is now dead weight around any good ideas that might have survived. Faith is lost and pursuit is forfeit.

Reliable Delivery has, without question, experienced incredible blessing. Throughout our more than 30-year history, Reliable Delivery has avoided big layoffs, recorded an increase of profit annually, and in early 2009 expanded over its Michigan border to start an Ohio delivery company and become a regional player. Collins ideas are priceless; but for us, so is reality.

We have a firm policy of “freedom of mouth” among our employees. We want their ideas, but just as importantly, we want their view of what’s happening with the company, and on the ground. It’s been a vital tool to our success now, and we know, in the future.

We’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.comor connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

 

*Statistics obtained from Bankruptcy Action*

Raving Fans

October 15, 2009

Cupcakes

Studies show that gaining new clients costs five to seven times more than retaining your current clients.

At Reliable Delivery, we have a foolproof plan for retaining our loyal clients: Desserts! Just kidding. Well, … kind of. I’ll explain.

We understand the secret to keeping our current clients happy is in appreciating and building relationships. We developed a new area of our Michigan delivery company named Customer Care that has as its primary focus to proactively build and maintain relationships with our customers.

It’s not high-tech or rocket science. But it does mean showing up at our customers door consistently to hear how we’re doing, and figure out ways to make that customer’s experience better.

Our team visits about 25 customers per week, delivering cupcakes or cookies each time, and simply letting them know we appreciate their business. This gives us an opportunity to meet our clients face-to-face and discuss their account. If they are unhappy, they welcome the opportunity to voice their concerns. More often than not, the customer is happy with our visit and more than happy with our customer service. Not only will they continue their loyalty with Reliable, but they will likely recommend us to others.

We first put this plan to test with a customer who had been unpleasant with us in the past. But after receiving regular visits from our Customer Care team, he became shockingly pleasant! Another customer shared how awesome she felt knowing her company was important enough for us to stop by to visit them. We have a follow up regimen that keeps us in communication with our customers, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Our Customer Care team has learned a few sweets can go a long way. After all, who doesn’t love a good cupcake now and then?

Have an experience with our Customer Care team or a comment about a customer service experience?  We’d love to hear it, please leave a comment below, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com, or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

A Day in the Life of a Dispatcher: Got your game face on?

October 13, 2009

Aggressive Football Player Face

Being a dispatcher at Reliable Delivery isn’t for the faint of heart.  Any given day is challenging and fast paced, requires the people skills of a Major League Baseball manager, the focus of a diamond cutter, and the patience of Job.

The day begins with the walk-in from the parking lot.  Much like a middle linebacker getting ready for a game on Sunday, you have to get your game face on to be prepared to dispatch hundreds of jobs, communicate with the personalities of over 100 drivers, survey the work to make sure all same day deliveries are picked up and delivered according to deadlines, update and adjust orders according to changing situations, communicate those changes to our clients, and update road managers with status reports.

Fortunately, here at Reliable Delivery, we have the latest technology to assist our dispatchers with accomplishing almost all of these tasks.  Our gigantic dispatch board displays mounds of information, including a listing of all pending jobs for hours in advance, and all the information pertaining to those jobs.

The board also displays a square for each driver on the road and indicates by color whether the driver is empty, on-schedule, or nearing deadline.  Point and click on a driver square and it will list the current Detroit delivery or deliveries that driver is working on, and the status of each one.

In just the two years I have been at Reliable, we have had numerous upgrades and improvements to our dispatch technology, all geared to improve the service to our clients and make our dispatchers more efficient and effective.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to have our improved technology allow our dispatchers to ditch the game face, but we are working on it!!!

 

Have an experience with our dispatch center or a comment about a day in your life?  We’d love to hear it, please leave a comment below , email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com, or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

This Ain’t Pizza Delivery!

October 8, 2009

training manual

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a participant in one of our Michigan delivery training classes.   This particular gentleman was looking for something to supplement his income when he hired on with us, but decided the timing wasn’t right to take on a second job.  But something he wrote in a letter after only two days of class made me proud of what we’ve created here, at Reliable:

“From what I learned and observed during my brief period with you is that you have an excellent company oriented towards high quality customer satisfaction,” he wrote.  “Your operation and personnel should be commended for the company culture it strives for.” 

I think any company that is trying to achieve excellence while adapting to an ever-changing business environment must continually evolve.  And so must its workforce.  The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) reported “In an information-based business economy….the race belongs to companies that build and harness their intellectual capital.”  (Laurie J. Bassi and Mark E. Van Buren, “1998 ASTD State of the Industry Report,” T&D Journal, January 1998)

At Reliable Delivery, we think the key to cultivating a flexible, first-rate workforce is through training and ongoing learning and education.  New hires participate in a comprehensive orientation program that consists of classroom and road training.  We want them to get a feel for what real life as a Professional Courier looks like. 

Often, when we bring on a new customer, we will research everything we can about their business and their industry, in an effort to provide the most proactive and accurate delivery services.   Oftentimes, we can discover new ways to increase the efficiency and speed of their deliveries, and even save dollars in the process.

We have even developed customer specific manuals and teaching materials that are distributed and studied company-wide.  And, there is not one manager in our organization that is not continually reading a book or taking a class to enhance their skills and abilities. 

One of the things I jokingly tell our trainees is “You are a Professional Courier.  You ain’t a pizza delivery guy.”  Nothing against the hard working folks out there making a living delivering pizza.   At Reliable Delivery however, there is a whole skill set and knowledge base that is required to partner with our customers.  I am proud that after two days of class, he was able to see that.

A Smart Way to Outsource

October 6, 2009

Say outsourcing, and in these difficult economic times images of lost jobs and overseas call centers come to mind. But there’s a smarter way to outsource; a way that keeps jobs at home, and actually allows people to grow and develop their careers. We discovered it at Reliable Delivery years ago, and found that it’s not only helped us, but our customers, and their employees.

Outsourcing the transportation services for many businesses can be a smart move. For most, transportation isn’t their core expertise; but a necessary part of doing business. Leaving the delivery to people that do nothing but, day in and day out can cut cost, improve customer service and streamline their operation. But for many, the worry of what happens to their employees becomes reason enough to keep their in-house operations in place.

What Reliable Delivery has found is most employee drivers are only making $8.00 – $11.00 per hour and, for many, the work is a dead-end job. But what we’ve discovered is that when we become the logistics service provider for a new company, their employees become valuable assets to us. They know the customers, they know their industry, and they’re eager to learn and grow.

In many instances, Reliable Delivery ends up offering some, if not all, of the drivers jobs.    Because of our pay structure and the amount of work Reliable Delivery has available, our drivers can and do end up making twice as much and sometimes even more as they did when working for a single company doing the same route or job daily. 

And, because of our extensive training in handling medical specimens, bio-hazard and documents for legal professionals, our drivers work for several industries at the same time, which gives them more opportunity to maximize their pay potential.   

This is a true win/win relationship.  Their company has saved money, their service has improved and most of their former employees are making more money working for Reliable Delivery. Hardly the conventional idea of “outsourcing.” But then, we like to think that we’re hardly a conventional company.

Please feel free to comment or contact the blog editor at blog@reliabledelivery.com.

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

October 1, 2009

“Please have a seat.  The doctor will be in to discuss your test results shortly.”  Almost all of us have someone we care about who has faced those fearful moments before receiving a good, or sometimes, a bad report.  This was my year to have a loved one face the bad news.

She is one of the more than 200,000 women in America that are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.  Over 40,000 will lose their fight.  Happily, with improved treatment and early diagnosis, those numbers are decreasing. 

calendarReliable Delivery is proud to be part of the fight against Breast Cancer.  Every October, our medical couriers hand out annual planners filled with wellness tips designed to educate and encourage women to make lifestyle changes or remind them to schedule recommended health screenings.  For example, women in their 20’s and 30’s should be screened for Breast Cancer every three years, and annually after age 40.  Those who are at risk or have a family history of Breast Cancer should be screened more often.

I mentioned that I have a loved one fighting Breast Cancer.  I know how critical accurate lab results are for my family member.   As Michigan Couriers, it is our mission to transport every specimen and every medical delivery as if someone’s life depended on it.  And many times, it does.

Please encourage the women in your life to take charge of their own health and remind everyone to support the fight for a cure!  If you have been involved in any activities to support the cure for Breast Cancer, we would love to hear about it.