“There aren’t any bad teams, only bad leaders,” said Leif Babin in Extreme Ownership. That line really struck a chord with me. My first reaction was to start defending myself and my team. “We are doing well, sure we could improve but heck, we are an efficient and effective part of our company! I’m pushing everyday to do my best.” I have no idea why that was my first reaction but it was. Maybe it’s that underlying sense of insecurity and anxiety that can often make a successful sales person. That led me down a tract of introspection and learning that has transformed how I view leadership. I started my management career working underneath a militant leader in a restaurant who led our team out of fear. For that management style, he was effective. People listened when he talked, when he was in the building…you knew it, the tension was thick. People performed, we ran efficiently and were a shining example of how a restaurant should be run in our small restaurant group of 8 locations across the country. What was the problem then? We had a ton of turnover, common in the restaurant industry I know, but much more prevalent in this restaurant. People weren’t happy and as soon as another opportunity came up, they would jump on it. It was a constant problem that put a lot of pressure on our senior staff members and training team. We never really figured out the solution, we just dealt with it. That was such a great lesson for me on how important retention is and avoiding the easy excuse of, “well there’s always a lot of turnover in that type of industry, what are you gonna do?” I lead our Inbound Sales team here at FreightPros and you would assume, it’s sales, there’s going to be a lot of turnover in that role too. We have barely had any turnover in the last 2 years that I’ve been a part of this team. How? Why? I’ve always believed that, while my role is important, it’s nothing compared to the role that my teammates execute every day. I’ve listened to the audio book, Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek twice in the last 6 months and for good reason. That book has helped me develop a lot of the beliefs I already have had, “treat your employees like family, if your child wasn’t performing to their capability you wouldn’t just kick them out of the house would you?” Of course not! You work with them, you develop them, you put everything you possibly can into their success and prioritize their needs over yours unquestionably. That’s effective leadership, that’s being a great leader, that’s being the type of teammate people will follow into battle, even if their lives are on the line. If your team succeeds, it’s because of them; if your team fails, it’s because of you.
FreightPros has a pretty simple formula for success: make customers our number one priority. It’s not BS that we need money to keep the lights on, to operate, but those dollar bills are directly correlated to how we treat our customers. If we were like some other freight brokers, we’d supply the cheap freight quote and send you on your way. Damaged freight? Good luck. Invoice discrepancy? Take it up with the carrier. By taking care of our customers, we’ve proudly received some honors: Austin’s Fast Fifty 2015 two years running, three years of the Inc. 5000 list, and Greater Austin Business Awards 2015. All of these are great, but we wouldn’t have them without our customers, and each one of us know it. It’s never easy to run a business, especially one that’s trying to create its own particular niche in an otherwise enormous industry such as freight shipping. But by putting our customers first, even when it’s tough, we commit to creating the sort of company that we can be proud of, one that grows along with our team members, our customers and their businesses. All of this is to say that we’re extremely happy to be selected as one of the best places to work in Austin 2016. It’s pretty cool, not going to lie. The Austin Business Journal announced the list of Austin’s Best Places to Work 2016 in a superhero-themed bash at the Hyatt Regency Austin last week. FreightPros was selected at no.14 in the small companies (25-49 Employees) category. There are a number of reasons why this is awesome:
1.) We are one of the best places to work in Austin. Austin is one of the best places to work in the country (just look at all the people/companies moving here). Ergo, we are one of the best places to work in the country. 2.) We’re one of the best places to work and we’re a freight company. The freight industry is a lot of things, but it’s rarely “cool.” Being selected to this sort of list validates the hard work our team does in forging a company culture that is unique, hip, professional, and fun.And in perhaps the most important part of the event, FreightPros took home the award for Best Costumes. That’s right, check it: Lot of things happening in that picture…Power Ranger… ANYWAY, it’s great to be one of the best places to work in Austin. We’re proud of it, and we’re going to make it a priority to move on up the list next year. Going to work every morning (and sitting in traffic) can be a pain, but by wearing superhero costumes and taking care of customers, we make it worth it.
Our sales team is no stranger to “pounding the pavement.” Don’t knock that business hustle. When it comes to business travel tips, they’ve come up with some best practices after spending long hours in airports and hotel rooms, stuck in traffic in a rental car, or hustling through an intense airport security line. So with their help, we’ve come up with 12 Tips for Better Business Travel. These are universal hints for better travel on your next business trip. Some of them are old school, some are new, but all should help you plan, coordinate, and execute your next business trip in style. Using this as a guide, you’ll be better organized, less stressed, and hopefully more successful for your business and your clients or customers. Travel for pleasure can be stressful, much less travel for work. But by following some successful steps laid out by our map-hopping sales team, you too can be a business travel pro.
If you’re going to work with someone, if you’re going to trust them with aspects of your business, you better get to know them. How else are you going to trust them? That’s the idea behind our “Meet a Pro” Interview Series. Get to know our FreightPros, our company, and the individuals that make up our teams and take care of our customers. Today, we’re talking with Lindsay Wahlquist about California, Baja vs Tex-Mex, SNL skits, and little angel babies floating from the ceiling… FP: Give me a quick description of what you do at FreightPros? LW: I am an Executive Assistant to our president, Chris Clever, as well as Office Manager. Basically, I provide administrative support to Chris or whoever else needs it, and….I have way too much fun at work. I plan company events, handle the logistics of rewards, happy hours, etc. Recently, I converted an unused portion of the office into a nap room, which is exactly like what it sounds. I try to think of my job as being the constant bearer of good news, which is basically the best job in the world for me. FP: What’d you do before you were nap room architect extraordinaire? LW: I moved to Austin and started working for FreightPros a little over a year ago. I moved here from Los Angeles, California (10 years) by way of Weston, West Virginia (20 years). I went from small town to a huge city, and then settled down somewhere in between. I’m the Goldilocks of moving. Hopefully bears don’t run me out of Austin. FP: Hmmm…a sorta-Californian. Lots of Californians running around our fair city of Austin these days. How do the two cities compare? LW: Everything is bigger in Texas. Like parking lots. You can actually park at Trader Joe’s in Austin, which is pretty great. The cost of living in LA is outrageous, and while Austin’s is going up as more people move here, it’s still nothing compared to LA. What else? In California they have Baja Mexican food, and here it’s all Tex-Mex. Getting used to all the queso has been an adjustment. As crap as traffic is here, it’s much worse there. That’s why Angelinos always talk about traffic. The SNL skit, The Californians, is soooo dead on. FP: Gotta go with Tex-Mex versus Baja. Speaking of food, what’s your desert island meal(s)? Something you couldn’t live without? LW: My absolute favorite food is strawberries, but I have a few favorite meals. My husband’s burgers are great, and I love making my mom’s stuffed shells and my chicken enchiladas. I love food – both cooking it and eating it, but something I really couldn’t live without is my family: my husband (Matt), our son (Liam), and our doggy (Booch). And in addition to family and food, my other love is travel. FP: You mention travel. Don’t know if you’re aware, but freight travels, and freight is our business. Talk about bringing it all back home. Final question: Where’s your favorite place you’ve travelled? LW: Well, I had a great time in Turtle Bay, Hawaii. And I really enjoyed time spent in the English countryside. But my absolute favorite place to travel is The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CA. Nothing I could say would do it justice, but I’ll tell you that every guest room has a different theme, their steakhouse is all pink with little angel babies floating from the ceiling, and their cake is AMAZING.
What does it mean to deliver a quality freight experience? It’s a question we get a lot, and a valid one at that. As a (relatively) new team member, I often think back to my first days on the job, when I asked that very same question. What exactly does it mean to deliver a quality freight experience?
On my first day at FreightPros everyone was nice, smart, but most importantly, every single person I met was eager for me to be there and be a part of the team. Driving home that day my brain was racing just to process the influx of new terminology such as liftgates, PRO numbers, and freight class. But one aspect I was excited about included the opportunity to play my part in setting the standard for a quality freight experience.
Our vision statement (to set the standard for a quality freight experience) is something everyone at FreightPros lives by, whether we are helping a brand new client or providing service to a client of 3+ years, the strategy is the same. We are here to put the customer’s needs in full focus so we can find how best to provide top notch support throughout every stage of the shipping cycle. As every industry is adapting to the fast-paced, technology-driven marketplace, it is more important than ever to be there for each and every customer whether they ship just once or 20 times a week. Our company is built not to react to what our competitors are doing, but to proactively develop better systems that make our customers feel less like clients and more like partners. It would be virtually impossible for this company to provide exemplary customer support without first providing that support to each other in the work place. We believe with such passion that our vision statement rings loud and true due to the fact that we are providing the quality freight experience to each other on a daily basis. FreightPros is a growing company, one that is punching well above our weight in delivering success for our customers as well as ourselves.