Monday, January 21, 2013

Measure Correctly, Mistakes are Costly

For many years, there have been rules associated with shipping that vary according to the mode,
or how you decide to ship your items.

For example, it used to be the case that for most domestic ground packages, your charges would be
simply based upon the actual weight of your shipping container, but today, there are rules about the
how big your package can be, or maximum limits on weight, or even limitations on how long an item can
be for shipping.

For as long as we have been in the shipping business, we have seen it all.   UPS used to have a rule for many
years that nothing could be shipped if the length, width and girth (yes, girth) did not exceed 140 inches, and
they used to give out chains to their customers to use to see if the package in question did not exceed the length
of the chain…….

Today, almost every package that goes into a system (ground shipping, air shipping and international shipping)
has rules associated with how big or how heavy a given package can be.   For the international arena, the rules
get more complex as several nations have their own set of rules about size, etc.   For those of you who have also
had to take a box or a package on a plane trip or use an airline’s cargo division, to ship a pet or something else,
the rules can be not only daunting, but I tell anyone and everyone who asks, to check no less than twice when
getting the permissible sizes.

I had been visiting one of our locations in Nevada and I happen to meet one of our customers, actually a young
married couple with a story that illustrates how these rules for shipping can be complex, easily misunderstood and
often they can end up with some harsh results…..

This couple has two Saint Bernards, and you can tell, to this couple, they are as close to being their children as any
pets can be.   They needed to travel by plane and in their research, the airlines told them they had rules for shipping
pets, that they needed pet carriers, and gave them the maximum size permissible for flying animals on a commercial

Long story short, the couple arranged for us to make them crates for their animals, as there were no pre made pet
carriers for dog breeds as large as Saint Bernards (how they can even get a Great Dane, Newfoundland,  or a Mastiffs….
into one of those smaller dog crates is beyond me…..our crates are custom, so we made them to the maximum size,
and we had air grates on both sides so the air would flow, we made wood receptacle frames for food and water
containers, easy access doors, to ensure that there would be no issues.

Our customers loved them, as they were genuinely concerned that these containers were safe, complied with the rules
of the airline, and would house their “loved ones”  for the trip to visit their grandparents.   Only problem is that our customer
was misinformed by the airline, and this resulted in them having to have two more crates made to conform to the airline’s rules.

I know there is more to this story, for sure, but the point is that we were directed to make a set of custom crates for a specific
purpose and this was not a happy ending for them since they had to have the crates remade, through no fault of their own.
So, always be careful when you need to comply with shipping rules, as they are easily misunderstood, complex and largely
inflexible in many cases.   Or if you need to, it never costs more to ask us to confirm measurements and maximum sizes for
different modes of shipment—at Box Brothers and this is the best advice when you need to ship something to a faraway place.

I am very proud of the way we worked with our customers as they told us that almost all other crating firms they contacted were
not interested in helping make a crate with the features that we added for the safe transport of their large family (dogs) members.
For Box Brothers, the customer and their needs are what we come to work for each and every day.   Ask any of our customers,
they know who we work for, even if they are Saint Bernards.  Kudo’s to our staff in Las Vegas, for doing such a great job helping
our customers.

Mark S. Frydman
Box Brothers Corp.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Is Bigger Better?

As the President of Box Brothers Companies, I am often in the proverbial hot seat when it comes to issues
with personnel, customers or in the shipping business, matters to do with shipping damage, delays, as well
as all kinds of other issues.   Just part of running a robust and diverse company with multiple locations and a
very strong commitment to our customers, for the last and only 27 years of since our beginning in 1985.

Of course, with hundreds of packages shipped daily from our retail stores, and dozens of LTL shipments
being shipped daily to our crating services, where this week, we will complete and deliver over 100 crates
to our respective customers---there are bound to be some customers or employees who have issues that
go no further than my desk.

It is important today, to be accessible, as that is the one GINOMIS trait that all of the larger well to do firms
have in common, no matter what their industry segment is, that no one in senior management will purposely
engage any of their customers.  Ever.

While there are exceptions, if I were to be able to give out “academy awards for bad service or a Lip Service Award”
(which means they all talk service but do not talk to their customers), one would have to go to American Express, for
having the biggest phone room without any supervisor ever being present, let alone any corporate officer, as that
info is more than top secret, I know cause I tried…..but UPS wins one of those awards, so does Home Depot, and how
about Avis and Hertz and United Airlines, who is supposed employee owned……

On the contrary, when a customer has an issue, they want to take it to as high a place as they can, so they can
communicate how they feel to be one of your customers.   What I do not get, at all, today, is how they all get
away with it.   I think these firms, who undoubtedly use focus groups, but why imitate what you have already,
customers and why are you afraid to speak to them?   Again, why people patronize these firms when they have
options to patronize firms who are smaller and for whom, your purchase means so much more than just about
anything else.

Today, I got a letter sent to me by a customer in the top (upstate) corner of New York.   One of our managers in
the Bay area, received a letter from this customer after our efforts to get her a set of antique chairs, to her remote
residence, was something we undertook for a customer we did not know prior.   This customer was so amazed at how
personable and friendly and committed to get her this small shipment, at a cost less than any van line in America could
or wanted to do………that when she got the chairs—and even though they were purchased online and when she finally
got them---they turned out to not work for the area she intended them to go----she wrote to us that it did not matter
that they chairs would not work as she intended them to, but that our service and our outreach by our manager, Connie.
was so great, it did not matter, cause now, our customer, has a friend in the shipping industry.   A fan too.

I tell this story as it helps define what we do at Box Brothers and why how we do things, makes all the difference to our
customers and that is why each and every one of our customer, rich or poor, small or big, are crucial to our ongoing success,
and I would not have it any other way.   Any one of our daily thousand customers a day, can call me anytime, or any of our
managers, employees or staff, as customer service, the real customer service is alive and well here at Box Brothers, as that
is who we come to work for each and every day, and to the rest of the world, spend your money where it counts as true
value comes when someone cares about you as a customer and your needs, you are not just a footnote on a balance sheet
and you are not just a number.   To us at Box Brothers, you are the reason we are here.   May we help you?

Mark S. Frydman
Box Brothers Corp.