A couple of years after I started my moving company, I bought a brand new, red Cadillac even though I couldn’t afford it. This was while I was a devoted attendee (and star student) in the School of Hard Knocks when “we didn’t know that we didn’t know.” In those days we had very few rules or procedures, especially in operations.
One afternoon during an office move, one of our drivers backed up his truck at a suburban office park right into a parked (thank God unoccupied) Cadillac. The accident barely put a scratch on our rear bumper but totaled the car. My insurance company paid to replace the car but subsequently tripled our deductible and raised our premiums.
This was our second accident involving a truck backing up “blind.” The Loss Prevention/Loss Control department of our insurance company told me that effective immediately we were prohibited from backing up any company vehicle without a “spotter.” I naively inquired what they meant by that word. In a condescending tone, they told me never to back up without having someone stand at the rear corner of the truck to guide our back!
What sounded like an easy procedure to adopt was initially difficult to implement. Most of our drivers chose to ignore our new backup policy. They continued backing up “blind’ until I told them that if they backed up a company vehicle without a spotter and had an accident, they would become my new business partner. As my new business partner, they would share in the cost of our deductible since they chose to violate our company policy. However, if they backed up with a spotter and had an accident, I still wouldn’t be happy but they would not be required to share the cost of our insurance deductible. They got it—once they were given a specific consequence for a bad choice they were about to make, they made the correct choice and used a spotter.
I reinforced this policy by using the following example. I asked our drivers, “If it’s pouring down rain and you need to back up your truck and your helper refuses to spot you because of the weather, what should you do? Backup without a spotter so that you can continue the job, or shut the job down and not back up?” Even in a situation like that, I told them not to back up and to report the mover helper’s name and behavior to their operations manager.
After we adopted that policy, we never had another accident again from backing up blind in the remaining 22 years that I owned the company.
Now I’m not saying that buying an expensive Cadillac before I should have is what caused the mishap that opened my eyes to the importance of proper procedure. But it has been my experience that Karma has a way of teaching us lessons. And I have my diploma from the School of Hard Knocks to prove it!
Be sure to join our Group at www.linkedin.com/groups/12060567 For more information on our online office moving training, please visit www.officemoves.com/training/index.html or call Ed Katz at 404.358.2172.