There are typically three major reasons for having a damage claim.
1. It’s a random (or freak) nonrecurring accident.
2. The handling technique is flawed.
3. Your mover(s) are careless and/or not trained or are not following the best practice methods you taught them.
If damage to a piece of furniture, electronic equipment, or real property (floors, walls, doors, elevators) is not recurring and is merely an accident, it’s probably not worth worrying about. My advice is to settle the claim and move onto more important things. However, if the “accident” is recurring and happens more than twice a month, I urge you to drill down and find out the cause of the recurring claims.
The easiest approach to determine the cause of a claim is often the least effective. When I didn’t know any better, I used to query the crew as a group as to how the damage occurred. Most of the time their response was simply they didn’t know or didn’t see it happen. I thought a better approach was to ask each crew member on a one-on-one basis in a private setting. This, too, didn’t work well because most of the time they did not want to narc or tell on a fellow employee.
I eventually stumbled upon a technique that worked well most of the time. When I met individually with an employee, I’d say, “I’ve spoken to some of your other crew members about how the accident happened, but I wanted to get your side of the story.” To my amazement this scenario often got them to open up and give me the information I needed. It helped me identify employees who either needed more training or who needed to work for someone else because they were careless and didn’t care about our company, the customer, or their job.
When no one was to blame, I turned my investigation on to the process. I did this by either observing my movers during actual moves or having them demonstrate their techniques in our warehouse. (The former was much more effective than the controlled environment in our warehouse.)
One of my moving company clients in Houston had a recurring problem where his movers broke legs off desks at least three times a month. His crews blamed “flimsy” furniture as the cause, and the claims kept coming.
Taking my advice, my client went out on several moves and by his fifth random visit discovered the cause of the problem. One of his more experienced movers removed a “flimsy” desk from a 4-wheel dolly by himself instead of having another mover help him. This mover placed his foot against the inside of the desk and the side of the dolly while he rocked the raised legs towards him. He didn’t break the legs but when the legs slid off the dolly onto the floor, they made a loud banging noise. My upset client called his “macho” mover aside and warned him never to un-dolly a desk like that again. He added to do so would be a violation of his company’s safe furniture handling procedures and could result in probation and/or termination.
According to my client, this specific damage claim went away once the flawed process and mover were identified and corrective measures were taken. Three months later, he had to “let the mover go” because he refused to change his ways.
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