Finding Time Like a Modern Day Mob Boss

November 24, 2009 by

In business, making the right decision is only valuable if it’s timely and implemented well. But how do you make a right decision quickly? It’s hard enough to make the right decision, let alone having to make that decision quickly.

The answer? Think like a mob boss, or at least, take a few lessons from one from TV. Anthony Schneider wrote a book based on America’s favorite fictitious gangster Tony Soprano of HBO’s “The Sopranos”. Called “Tony Soprano on Management,” the book talk about making good decisions quickly.

“Time is the new money,” Schneider says. We want more of it, try to spend it wisely, and work to save it.” 

Take a minute and draw up a vision in your mind of the many things you would like to accomplish in your life. I’ll bet you came up with a long list, and thinking about accomplishing it all can be daunting. That is why any leader will tell you managing time is too important to disregard, for mafia bosses and CEOs alike.

Tony has a wife, kids, mistresses, capos bickering with one another, major new business opportunities, black bears invading his yard, the FBI watching his every move, rival families rising up against him, surreptitious counseling sessions … and the list goes on. Few of us would ever live Tony Soprano’s life (or would want to), but we could take some pointers from him: he manages his time well.

Tony’s ability to make quick decisions boils down to easy, manageable actions:

  1. He is a keen observer of people. He takes the time to listen and learn behavior. He knows how someone will react before he even asks the question. Take the time to think out reactions, it will save you the time of cleaning up a failed decision that yielded an unexpected response.
  2. He prioritizes, making lists and moving time from less important tasks to more important tasks. If there is a meeting he doesn’t need to attend, he skips it to do things that can’t wait. Don’t waste your time where you aren’t needed. Focus on urgency.
  3. Tony acts fast. When it comes to decision making Tony knows that “saving time on one thing allows leaders to use that time elsewhere – and benefits accrue.” Tony doesn’t drag his feet. When he does he knows it could cost him money, or worse his people’s lives. He carries out hard decisions quickly.
  4. He expects others to be fast too. When someone takes too long completing an assignment or arrives late to a meeting, Tony gets annoyed. Business must run on time and be “fast and steady”. Make sure those in business with you know that time is important and delegate your tasks to those who know it.
  5. When Tony’s working, he’s working.  When he is driving with Furio or his capos he is discussing business. He is always “checking up” on his business even in short conversations with his people. Everything Tony does during his work day is thought out and always has a goal that is focused on improving his business.

At Reliable Delivery, time is the key aspect of the Toledo delivery service we provide to our customers. They expect us to be “On Time…Every Time”. Why? Because that is our promise. Day in and day out we have to make tough decisions in literally seconds. Our Capture Operators (CSR’s) are trained to take an order in under one minute. Our dispatchers have been taught how to assign a maximum amount of work in a minimum amount of time, often working with other dispatchers to decrease assignment time. We have given our customers time sensitive expectations, and the only way to live up to our guarantee is to continuously focus on properly managing our time.

What are your tricks for managing time? Leave a comment below, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

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Toys for Tots

November 19, 2009 by

The Holiday’s are a time for family get-togethers and celebration.   But for a family struggling to make ends meet the holiday’s can be a stressful time.  We can all play a part in helping to make the holiday season a little brighter for families in need.  

Reliable Delivery has partnered with the Marine Corp. Toys for Tots Foundation to help collect toys and cash donations to ensure that the holidays are a magical time for every child.   Reliable will pick up toys from any business in our service areas willing to make a donation.

Reliable has been a long-time supporter of the Toys for Tots program, a proud part of our founders status as a Marine Corp. veteran.

Toys for Tots depends on local businesses and on the holiday spirit of people who donate toys for the success of their campaign each year.

Reliable Delivery is proudly providing drop-off locations at our Detroit delivery office, Grand Rapids delivery office, Toledo delivery office and our Flint delivery office, as well as warehousing and transportation of toys.  Please help us give families in need a joyful holiday by donating new, unwrapped toys or cash donations to any of our locations anytime during the days and times listed:

Romulus:  6774 Brandt St (M-Sa, anytime)
Toledo, OH: 6010 Skyview Dr (M-F, 9am-5pm)
Flint:  3201 S. Grand Traverse St (M-F, 9am-5pm)
Grand Rapids: 3420 Kraft Ave SE (M-F, 9am-5pm)

Please join us in helping the U.S. Marines assist thousands of needy children by supporting this worthy cause.

Together we can make a difference in the lives of the children in our community and make it a very happy holiday for all.

How Pig Headed Discipline and Determination Will Increase Your Profits

November 17, 2009 by

Chet Holmes offers an audacious promise on his Web site www.chetholmes.com:

“NO company would be able to compete with the company that masters the material in this superbly crafted book. You would take the business you want from whomever you want to take it and they will be powerless to stop you. You would pre-empt your competitors at every turn, even at a higher price.”

This is the guarantee Holmes makes for his book “The Ultimate Sales Machine”. As a business person how can you NOT read this book after seeing such a strong guarantee? I had to pick it up and find out if this guarantee, like so many others, was just too good to be true. After reading this book three times over within the last few months, I can assure you the above statement is both too good and true.

The book’s foundation stands on the idea that becoming a master is not about doing 4,000 things, it’s about doing 12 things 4,000 times. Chet talks again and again about how determination is the driving force behind impressing ANY customer you may have. He goes into great detail about what it takes to train your people, host effective meetings, obtain your dream clients, and operating like a machine. You really get an honest feel for Chet Holmes’ attitude throughout the entire book and after applying that same attitude in your business you will see results almost instantly.

One thing we have had in place at Reliable Delivery is what Chet Holmes calls the “Dream 100”. Our new business team works day in and out on obtaining new business for our company.

One way they do it is by forming a strong client target list. The list consists of 100 dream clients: the biggest, strongest, most well suited clients that they can “dream” up. They will then do whatever they can to attract these businesses to us, stressing the strong suits our Grand Rapids delivery company brings to the table. Our team will not stop until they have successfully won over that dream client.

Thanks to the pig headed discipline and determination of our New Business Team, Reliable Delivery has never stopped growing. That can only be attributed to our Sales and Marketing team. Without them and their passion, we would quite simply not exist today.

What are the things you focus on to grow your business? Please leave a comment below, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

Working at a family owned business

November 12, 2009 by

Reliable Delivery team

One of the best jobs I ever had was working at Summerfield’s Greenhouse when I was in high school.  Mr. Summerfield was tall and weathered with a gruff exterior that belied a very kind, soft heart.  

He lived with his daughter and son-in-law in a big, red brick house next to the three glass buildings that made up Summerfield’s.   Mr. Summerfield was definitely the man in charge, giving us our assignments for the day, checking our work, and watching over the young plants, making sure they had just the right amount of water and fertilizer. 

Margie was the mother hen, fussing over her dad, teaching us inexperienced employees how to plant seeds and cuttings.  Steve had an outside job, but during the season, he worked right alongside the rest of us, watering plants that were sitting out in the hot sun, loading flats of flowers into cars for our customers.  Besides being my first “real” job, this was my first experience working at a family owned business. 

And now, all these years later, I find myself working for a family owned business once again … and loving it.

At Reliable Delivery, there is a strong commitment to excellence that is modeled by the owner and has become part of the DNA of the entire team.  We pay a lot of attention to details, from having software that clocks every pickup and delivery to making sure our drivers are professionally uniformed.  Here, everyone “walks the talk”. 

Once, I had one of our newer couriers ask me why the janitor was giving him a directive.  I looked in the warehouse to see who he was referring to and saw our CEO sweeping the floor at our Detroit delivery company.  I laughed when I told him it was because that janitor signed his paychecks.  That sent a powerful message to the courier and to me.  There is something about the boss getting down in the trenches and working alongside you that not only teaches excellence, but also fosters loyalty and respect.   

There is a sense of pride that we share at Reliable Delivery.  Being an employee also makes me a stakeholder.  In our mission statement we talk about integrity and honesty.  How this business runs is a reflection of my boss and his family.  Those values held by the family govern how we deliver packages and freight, and how we respond to our customers.  If we make a mistake, we own it and work hard to resolve it.  In today’s cynical world, it means a lot to work for a company that stands behind its word. 

circlemodel2

*Permission for the use of this image given by Blender Consulting

Security is another benefit of working for a family owned business.  I know that these people are in it for the long haul, and so do our customers, something significant in today’s economy.  Page 6 of the American Family Business Survey 2007 cites optimism, and statistics in business growth and sales revenue that “confirm that family businesses [overall] are better able to weather economic hardship and stabilize the economy than their non-family counterparts.”

One of the things that I learned working at Summerfield’s 30 years ago is that a good benchmark of how a family business will treat its customers and employees is how they treat each other.  Reliable Delivery feels like family to me and I am proud of the work we do. 

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

A Hero’s Welcome

November 10, 2009 by

Vet Day BLog

There was a member of our country’s military in uniform on a business flight I took a while back.  When he walked on the plane, the passengers broke out in spontaneous applause.

I couldn’t help remembering back to when I was a 19-year-old Marine coming home from Vietnam.  Returning military weren’t received quite as warmly in those days.  When we touched down in the U.S., my friends and I quickly changed out of our uniforms and into civilian clothing to avoid being recognized as returning warriors and being booed-or worse.

Times do change for the better.

I don’t harbor any grudges for the way we were treated during the Vietnam era.  The opportunity that I have been provided by my country far outweighs all of it.

I have always believed that we have a country and lifestyle worth defending. There are few other countries where I would have had the opportunity to start out with next to nothing and end up owning a delivery company with offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Toledo, Ohio.

Our warehousing, logistics and trucking divisions have the privilege of employing a number of veterans.  Reliable Delivery is a service organization, and those that have voluntarily served our nation adapt quickly to our high standards of customer service.  They know what it means to serve, and to place someone else’s needs first.

These days many have thanked me for the time I spent in the jungles of the Mekong Delta and participating in operations outside of Saigon.  In fact, I have a nephew that is currently a career Marine on his way to his second tour in the Gulf and he calls or emails me each Veterans Day to thank me for my service. That simple gesture means a lot to me, and every other American veteran.

If you know a veteran this Veterans Day, be sure to thank them for their service.  I know I will.

Walking the Talk

November 5, 2009 by

My knees were shaking and my hands were sweating as I sat at a round table in front of several top executives talking about a long-term contract.  This was going to be a new line of work for us, and give us our big splash in the medical field.

I was happy all the way until I got to my car and called my boss who brought me back to reality.  It’s great that we sold a new piece of business, he said. But the real work is just starting.  

We work every day on being the best transportation company in Michigan, so we had to get everyone up to speed on this new project.  That involves more than briefing our drivers in a conference room.

To meet our service standards, every driver had to be Haz-mat trained, had to have a cooler and a spill kit in their car – oh, and by the way, we need to be able to have dry ice at a moment’s notice any place in the state. 

To pull this off correctly we needed to apply one simple principle to this project: Everything walks the talk. It’s a lesson we learned long ago from the book “Inside the Magic Kingdom,” something our entire leadership team studied together.

We apply this to everything we do at Reliable Delivery, from a new project to the first day we bring someone in to work with us.  Our training has to be top notch and we need a total team effort.  We have their paperwork in order, a training scheduled so they know exactly what to expect over the next week.   We teach our drivers from day one how important our uniforms are to our customers and how everyone needs to look sharp with their shirt tucked in, ID badge showing, black shoes and a belt must be worn.  We spot check our drivers so we make sure this is how they look every day. All of our drivers carry rain bags in case they are instructed to leave a package at the door or out where the weather could damage the product we deliver.  

Our trucks are washed once a week and inspected every day for damage. When you walk into our office you will find that the people working in the dispatch center also wear uniforms.  The dispatch center is clean with no papers lying around. Everything has a place to be stored. Every customer service representative has a flat panel monitor. National customers have visited our center and have commented to me that they have visited hundreds of courier services all over the county and have never seen an operation that looks as good as we do.  I just smile and thank them for the comment and think to myself everything walks the talk.     

How does your organization walk the talk? Please leave a comment below, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

Piece by Piece : Building a Powerful Team

November 3, 2009 by

RELIABLEPUZZLE2“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

“It is amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares about who gets the credit.”
— Robert Yates

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
— Babe Ruth

So how do you build a great team?  How you answer this question can make or break your business.  The answer, however, is not universal.  Different strategies and management philosophies can be used to achieve this goal.

The leadership team at Reliable Delivery meets on a monthly basis specifically to make this happen.  During these meetings we brainstorm around business issues.  The team, as a whole, comes up with the best solutions.  The guiding principle to the meetings is simple: Everyone has a voice on the team and, together, we influence the direction of our delivery company and shape our culture.

When you empower each team member to make a difference, the results can amaze you.  Every team member has a specific talent.  Assigning tasks according to specific talents produces results.  By recognizing the abilities of each team member at Reliable Delivery, a sense of pride, and ownership of their work is developed.  And when you own something, you tend to take better care of it.  This is how our team is built.  Working together in this way, we’re able to more quickly produce results for our customers. 

Reliable Delivery is always making strides to improve our business while delivering exceptional customer service.  That is our culture and that is something that every team member strives to achieve.

 

How do you build great teams?  Please comment below, email us at blogeditor@reliabledelivery.com or connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/reliabledeliver.

Leadership

October 29, 2009 by

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.

Delivering to Those in Need

October 27, 2009 by

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

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.