Friday, June 14, 2013
Alexander’s Mobility Services' monthly “Sales Spotlight” program highlights a sales team member and uncovers what makes them-- and the services they sell—so unique. The Sales Spotlight will feature our teams’ best moving tips, favorite on-the-job stories, and interesting facts about the many services that we offer.
This month we sat down with Ann Burkart of Alexander’s Minneapolis office to talk a little about her, the moving industry, and what advice she brings to her national account clients.
Ann began her career in the moving and storage industry as a member of our customer service team and quickly transitioning to sales. She joined the Alexander's team in September 1998 and has earned numerous sales awards from both Alexander’s and Atlas. An active member of the Southeastern Regional Relocation Council, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council, Ann takes great joy in working with her clients to figure out how she can help them develop and refine the most cost-effective relocation programs possible.
What is the most common concern from clients that you run into?
Most clients want a quality program that easily fits into their budget. Clients will often say that price is not the most important factor in picking a mover, but it is right up there. Many also want our advice regarding “how to provide a competitive program that helps them to secure employees and not lose them to their competitors.” We have a wealth of useful information for our clients and prospects. Clients also want a vendor that is always there for them. I become great friends with my accounts, and that relationship helps tremendously when there are problems with transferees. When you build close relationships, you can keep clients, when without a relationship, they might start shopping.
What advice would you give a client or prospective client looking to re-vamp their company’s relocation policy?
I would advise them to benchmark their policy with other companies in their field; we often assist with this process by providing other relocation policies. Some of these policies are generic, and some are directly from our clients, of course with their permission. Since we see so many relocation policies, we do have knowledge of what is happening out there and can give our advice based on our knowledge of what most companies are doing. Many companies are pleased with just that.
Many of the clients you serve are very large corporate clients with complex relocation programs, what aspects of doing business with companies of this size that you find particularly attractive?
Large clients normally understand the moving business pretty well and are easy to work with. Relationship building is absolutely KEY when working with large corporate clients. They are known for issuing RFPs, and if you have a strong relationship, you can usually keep them when they may otherwise start looking for a new provider.
What is one way that a corporate client can reduce their relocation costs?
There are many ways! One is to use a quality company like Alexander’s. We automatically look at ways to reduce costs for our clients. For instance, our Quality Management team recently evaluated our crating processes in order to improve our processes all around. As a result of this evaluation, we were able to efficiently cut crating costs but still provide high-quality packing.
Another way we work to reduce relocation costs is by advising our transferees on their dates and that they should try to avoid storage. Many customers think because they are offered storage, they should move sooner and utilize this but often it is a needless cost. Our customer service teams do a great job in cost savings. What a lot of our competitors fail to realize is that finding these small ways to reduce costs can make the difference between carriers in the eyes of a client and often makes Alexander’s our client’s carrier of choice! Case in point, the president of the company hears back yearly from one of his large accounts in Atlanta about how our cost saving programs really make the difference in the client’s experience. Our annual business reviews also show clients where our company is exceling, and often show how the quality of our services saves them money.
How do you feel your background in customer service inform the way you approach clients and transferees?
I started in the moving business in customer service for 6 months before I went into sales. I also spent time in dispatch, packing and loading. Any time our sales team can work in other aspects of our company, it gives us insight into what they go through and how we can better work together as a team. I think my background helps me to give a strong, caring, and honest approach to how I interact with our clients and transferees.
Whether it is a positive or negative situation that is happening with our transferee or clients, I believe my background makes me want to immediately get involved, and assist with the situation. I like the phrase from one seminar that I went to, “Eat the frog”. Take care of situations quickly and the ones you really do not want to tackle, the ones that you know will be uncomfortable or that you are dreading take care of first! Case in point, this weekend we had a claims delivery issue with a transferee. I called him on Sunday, as I knew that if I touched base with him quickly, that perhaps I could smooth over the situation, and not let it build to a bursting point by Monday. By reaching out to him sooner rather than later, I was able to help the situation, take care of some of the claim immediately, and let this transferee know that not only would we take care of the issue for them, but that we would also be there for them throughout the process. I then emailed the appropriate parties at our company to make sure everything was followed through and by Monday morning, the transferee was much happier.
Our customer service team may tell you that I probably am more involved in customer service than most sales people and it may be because of my background. But in my opinion, it is just that we are a team. I feel comfortable interfacing with customer service and assisting with problem resolution. That being said, we do have great customer service, and great drivers that are also part of our customer service. They all work together, and work hard to consistently be rated a “5 out of 5”.
I feel blessed to work for such a wonderful, quality company with amazing people.
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