Thirty-five years ago, David Budd Sr. had a vision for a new breed of van line company. He broke away from the standard van line agency system and established Budd Van Lines as an independent carrier specializing in executive relocation. Today, Budd Van Lines (BVL) is recognized as America’s premier independent van line providing relocation services to corporate America. In fact, they were ranked as the nation’s top carrier by the Trippel Survey of Corporate Relocation Managers in three of the last five years.
“From the start, I set out to build the best moving company in America. It’s really all in the details of taking care of customer needs,” explained Budd. He always believed that consistency of quality standards and control over the move process provides a better experience for his customers. He also noticed there were varying levels of commitment amongst most household drivers. That inspired him to develop a moving company offering a consistent level of quality.
Unique Service Delivery Model and Stringent Standards
With Budd’s vision in mind, their unique “Team Pack and Team Haul” service delivery concept was born. A professional team of BVL personnel is assigned to handle 100% of every move—from packing and loading through delivery, unpacking and settling transferees into their new home. BVL does not outsource to other moving agents or companies, so they are able to control the quality in each and every touchpoint. This ensures a consistently reliable moving experience—every time.
Budd’s commitment to excellence is evident in their 15 Signature Standards—practices that truly distinguish them from the competition and help them win repeat business. Every single move has these same stringent standards. The uniformed team preps and protects residences with the utmost care at origin, putting families at ease from the start. They commit to on-time service to the day and hour, and guarantee accuracy and timeliness of paperwork. And, they leave each home organized, free of debris and set up as requested by the family.
The Goal: Create a Consistent Service Culture
David Budd knew that as his business grew, it was important to find and train employees who could deliver a high level of customer service. “Our two number ones are our customers and our employees. Without them we are nothing,” he says. David challenged Cathy Trementozzi, the newly appointed Vice President of National Services to create a consistent service culture, so employees would love to work there and customers would love to do business with them.
Cathy knew that developing a culture meant that every BVL associate needed to embrace a service mindset and model it in every interaction—internal or external. Every driver, packer, coordinator or salesperson needed to buy-in—a tall task for such a diverse audience that is dispersed throughout the country. Cathy hired Communico to implement the proven MAGIC® customer service program to meet this lofty goal. MAGIC stands for Make a Great Impression on the CustomerTM.
Communico’s MAGIC Training System is a Natural Fit for their Vision
Communico was the perfect partner to help make the concept of a consistent service culture a reality. “MAGIC was a natural fit for us. It provides greater expressions of respect for the customers and more accountability for customers’ needs” explained Cathy. She believed it was perfectly aligned with the organization’s vision.
She partnered with Communico to ensure the program was customized to fit BVL’s specific needs. Participants’ input was essential to create a learning experience that would simulate their working environment. Communico used that input to develop typical challenging customer interactions for their pilot MAGIC program, kicked off in March 2007, for the National Services Staff (Coordination, Risk Management/Claims, Coding & Ratings and Human Resources). The purpose of the pilot was to enhance the participants’ customer relations skills right before their peak season and determine if MAGIC was the right choice for the whole company.
MAGIC created a palpable buzz—soon, employees in a wide variety of areas were asking for the training. BVL rolled it out to a mix of departments and participants found there were many benefits to the program:
- The 33 Points of MAGIC provided an objective, behavioral standard for their contacts
- Participants met BVL associates they wouldn’t usually interact with and gained appreciation for other areas in the company. Everyone now sees that they are all each others’ customers.
- They had an opportunity to share their perspective, so they felt heard and valued
- They can identify MAGIC and tragic behaviors in a fun, non-threatening way
Overall, the participants found it thought-provoking, applicable to every function and a practical method for creating positive relationships with co-workers, customers and clients.
The Entire Organization Goes through MAGIC
Cathy recognized that every contact made an impression. And BVL wanted to be sure that each and every interaction with any individual or department at BVL was aligned with MAGIC. Communico then certified two facilitators, Shelly Laster, Human Resources Manager, and Cynthia Spencer, Corporate Training Specialist, to take MAGIC on the road. They traveled around the U.S. to train employees in MAGIC. Ultimately, the entire organization went through MAGIC—every coordinator, salesperson, team member and driver now models the same standards.
Custom Program for Relocation Specialists Exceeds Expectations
Particularly impressive was that every driver team went though the program as well. “Moving can be a very stressful time,” explained Gary Grund, Vice President of National Sales. “Drivers are often one of the only face-to-face contacts a transferee has in the relocation process. The way they handle the transferee’s possessions and their communication with them has a huge impact on the transferee’s comfort level, confidence and overall satisfaction with the move.” BVL partnered with Communico to create a custom-designed program for this audience who makes a big impression on the transferees in every move.
The drivers were skeptical at first. In a pre-course survey they said they thought the training would be a waste of time, since they had an average of thirty years of experience in the industry. But after the program, they proclaimed it to be “fantastic.” Their average scores on the customized MAGIC measurement tool went up 31% after the conclusion of the course. They all said that they definitely learned something and will apply their new knowledge back to the field with them.
“MAGIC dramatically enhanced our drivers’ interpersonal and customer service skills,” notes Gary. “That’s what Bud Van Lines is all about—making people comfortable and confident that BVL will make everything right. MAGIC definitely fostered that culture.”
Email Contacts Get a MAGIC Makeover
As MAGIC was being rolled out, the management team noted that about 75% of customer contact is through email. All it would take is one “tragic” email to reverse the professional impression made in the face-to-face and telephone contacts. And, imagine the impact if that email was forwarded to others.
This prompted BVL to implement Communico’s MAGIC Email program. “This training had a huge impact,” exclaimed Cathy. “It got everybody to be concise and to the point. Our employees are writing faster and their emails are clear, accurate and more polished.” They have even received numerous compliments from clients, highlighting how their email communication is easy to read and has all the information they need.
Relationship Selling Program Yields Immediate Impact on Sales
The sales associates were also part of this initiative. “We wanted clients to see each of our sales associates as a professional who adds value—not just a salesperson trying to sell something,” stated Gary. So, the MAGIC of Relationship Selling was rolled out to the entire team. “The goal was to help our associates to make trusted partners with the clients and deliver tangible benefits. MAGIC helped them tighten up their process,” added Gary.
And, the training yielded tangible results. Despite the down market, BVL has added 20 new accounts since January 2009 and had an impressive 26% close rate.
Coaching and Support from the Top Sustains Exceptional Service Behaviors
BVL implemented five core programs, all focused on building strong relationships with customers:
- The MAGIC of Customer Relations
- MAGIC Email Writing
- Customized MAGIC of Customer Relations for Drivers
- Mastering MAGIC in Difficult Situations
- MAGIC of Relationship Selling
Keeping the content fresh and top-of-mind in a hectic environment requires coaching and reinforcement. The facilitators delivered refresher classes for the MAGIC of Customer Relations and found that associates’ scores on the MAGIC 33 Points increased even further. Continuous monitoring and coaching of the Customer Service/Coordination staff ensure that they were consistently using the MAGIC principles. Refreshers for the MAGIC E-Mail program are also being provided to ensure consistently professional electronic communication.
To really shift a culture, new behaviors also need to be reinforced and supported from the top. Senior management communicated the importance of the initiative, showed their belief in it and designed creative ways to support it. Ray Gunst, President and COO, sends out scorecards, dashboards and customer comments so BVL employees can see and celebrate the fruits of their efforts.
In January 2008, they rolled out a new recognition program, the Tradition of Excellence Awards. These honors are given to staff members and drivers that go above and beyond for their customers or associates—yet another way to emphasize the importance of these skills to the company’s success.
Unprecedented Measurable Quality Results
According to Gary, “Budd Van Lines has always focused on the customer and been good at what we do. MAGIC was closely aligned with our culture. It enabled us to improve even further and produce award-winning results.”
In 2008, BVL recorded measurable improvements to Client Services’ Quality Assurance scores in a short amount of time:
Communication (helpfulness) of your move coordinator throughout the move: The number of excellent scores increased 109% since 2004 and 42% from 2006.
Timeliness and professionalism of Budd Van Lines’ drivers and crew: The number of excellent scores increased 87% since 2004 and 35% from 2006.
Overall moving experience with Budd Van Lines: The number of excellent scores increased 129% since 2004 and 44% from 2006.
Unparalleled Industry Recognition and Awards – Rated Top in the Nation
- In 2008 and 2009, BVL achieved unprecedented success in the industry:
- Rated top in the nation in the 2008 and 2009 Surveys of Corporate Relocation Managers by Trippel Survey & Research
- Rated highest net satisfaction score in the 2008 and 2009 Nationwide Relocating Employee Survey by Trippel Survey & Research
- Made Parsifal Corporation’s 2008 and 2009 Benchmarking Report. The report is utilized by Parsifal’s clients to benchmark their own carrier service results against the best of the best.
- Won a total of six awards at the 2008 Cartus Global Network, including the most prestigious and coveted Cartus Cup award:
- The Cartus Cup: Presented to a Cartus service provider who has achieved exceptional quality standards and demonstrated outstanding performance, commitment, collaboration and partnership. Recipients must also maintain a strong commitment to Cartus’ mission, vision and values as well as dedication to delivering an exceptional customer experience each and every day.
What’s Next for BVLMAGIC posters are now seen throughout the headquarters building and displayed prominently in every service center. The winning feeling permeates throughout the organization. “MAGIC was not about fluff training,” noted Cathy. “MAGIC produced real tangible results and has transformed the way we deal with one another. It now embodies who we are.”
Even though the economy has led to a decline in corporate relocations, BVL is holding steady as other van lines’ volume decreases. “Quality is what keeps us in the game,” declared David Budd Sr. “Especially in the unprecedented times we are in now.”
BVL’s focus on quality and its people is sure to help them succeed, not only in this tough market but far into the foreseeable future.