Tag Archives: entrepreneur

UPS – Just When I Thought I’m Out They Pulled Me Back In

UPS Troubles
UPS Troubles

Just when I was about to write how our local UPS office picked up the ball after main office dropped it – they blew it above the sky. Hour later I got a call from our local UPS office and nice lady promised that driver would contact me about an hour before dropping off my package AND drop-off will happen after five. Well, I said, thank you, this really saves me a lot of trouble.

I got home something before six o’clock and find a third UPS InfoNotice flying on the floor. Which means that driver didn’t call me, at least I haven’t seen any missed calls on my phone. Tough luck, I said, and drove my 30 minutes to UPS pickup location. Today was a lights-on day, since the garbage truck garage across from UPS yard was lit to its fullest. Nice teamwork! Got inside at around 9:30pm – and the line was worse than those at the airport on Thanksgiving. In just under 30 minutes I got to the clerk who grabbed my InfoNotice and went after my package. In about two minutes he emerged back only to tell me that… they lost my package. “It’s somewhere in the building, we just can’t find it”. Nice. The guy seemed upset that I came over for the missing package and I kind of agreed that I was better off picking up the package that wasn’t missing. But this is life and my package that UPS was trying to deliver three times got lost. Guess it got upset too.

Now to the brighter part. Few hours after I’ve published the previous post I got a comment from UPS’s PR lady. I held off the comment until I came back from pickup to at least say that the problem got resolved. Well it’s not and it’s not actually my problem. Here’s why.

UPS is best if you order something to the location where you are present during business hours. These guys probably great for serving businesses and all, but regular folks who work day jobs and hope they can get their stuff after hours get sidestepped. I’d rather take my wife to a movie or take her out on a Friday night than spend hour and half picking up stuff that was supposed to be delivered three days ago. So, here my words to Debbie, who wroteyou’ve really had a hassle with this shipment“. Debbie, I hadn’t had a hassle. It’s the way UPS works for all who can’t schedule a delivery to their work address. That’s the kind of service (or rather lack of it) that all those people in line at 10PM on Friday night are getting. It would be just honest to state right there on your brown web site: “We’re doing business from 9 to 5. If you want to pick up your stuff any other time – come and get it yourself, you loosers”.

Rant mode off. Debbie, this is still for you, though. The economy is tough, and if tomorrow someone’s gonna start a shitstorm on Twitter about how not to use UPS but use FedEx or USPS instead – you gonna have a problem. I don’t depend on UPS in my ways of doing business, but I have plenty of clients who do and they aren’t all that satisfied either. Here’s the moment of opportunity and innovation for UPS. Google the term “cell phone”. I’ve heard they’re good in establishing a two-way communication between two people, in your case – the driver and dispatch. You can also google “blackberry” and “gps phone”. Sending one-way messages to driver’s pager is so last century. Call those guys at Sprint, AT&T or Verizon, get a contract. I’m sure with tough times like these you will have an upper hand in negotiation a good deal. Next step – map your drivers. Know exactly where they are any time of the day. If you need someone to do it for you – hire me, I can get this done for you. Next step (here comes the trick!) – ask your customers when they want their package delivered. Seriously. For real. Don’t just game the numbers (“we deliver more packages…”), but actually deliver them. When customers want. Here’s how: you have live traffic maps (Google does it as well as other providers) plus you have exact location of each of your drivers. You can minimize their time driving by reshaping their route in real time according to traffic patterns. This means less gas burned, less time wasted, less destinations visited multiple times. With the money saved ask a quarter of your drivers to work second shift – from 2pm to 11pm. You won’t need many people because I imagine most of the deliveries would still be within 8 to 6 time frame. You already charge a bit more for residential deliveries, so here’s a way to put those extras plus whatever you saved to good use. This will unload the 8 to 6 schedule somewhat and reduce return trips. I’m sure you can have your own quality improvement department cough up the real numbers to do the math. But in addition to this all – you will get a customer satisfaction beyond any imaginable level. Which means – more business for your company. Isn’t it a win-win?

Self-Improvement For Small Business Owner – Part II

This is part II of the series (read Part I of Self-Improvement for Small Business Owner).

When you talk or read that goal management is good – you are not making any real progress. Even more so – the more you talk, the more you waste your time. So if you really want to start going – here’s a first step at organizing your goals.

Remember how I talked about dividing your goals into three categories? Hope you do, because, being a geek I have done half of the work for lazy you. The following link will open a Google Document in a new window (you can click on the picture as well for the same effect):

Goal Matrix by iStudioWeb.com
Goal Matrix with Color-Coding

This colored thingy is already broken down into 9 color-coded areas. Once you write your goals in each of the areas, you should start associating your goals with these colors. Now, I am not saying you should use these colors to brain wash yourself, however, if you feel certain colors would represent your goal/priorities better – feel free to copy this chart into Excel or Calc and change them around. The idea is to have three colors for each priority and distinguish between a long and short term by intensity (saturation, if you will) of the same color.

Why? Good question. Ideally, your short term goals must lead you to achieving your long term goals. So by coding short-term goals in the same color as your long terms you implicitly suggesting to yourself that that’s why you are doing this. As an example, take running 10K distance (that’s one of my long term goals for now). I know that I can’t just get up and run 10K, because somewhere around 3 – 4K distance I break down. So I set a short term goal to get an extra 5 minutes to run every week. During my workout yesterday I had a 30 minute run instead of 25 as of last week and I have successfully broken my dreaded 4K barrier. Maybe I stick to 30 minutes for the next week or maybe I will increase it to 35. In any case – running an extra 5 minutes makes a perfect deep-blue colored short term goal, at the same time reminding me that colored in sky blue goal of running a 10K run is getting closer every time I achieve my “+5 min run”.

Aside from that there is one more use for this matrix, which I will talk about in the next part of the series. Stay tuned.

Self-Improvement For Small Business Owner – Part I

Self Improvement and Time Management - iStudioWeb.com Recently I had a chance to take couple of instructor-led courses. One was on time-management, the other was on managing your goals. Even though I had a pretty good idea on how to do both, I still heard a bunch new things and another bunch was definitely a welcome refreshment. I already wrote about my new strategy in this post, so it all falls into places steadily.

Let’s start with time management. One of the most important things about owning a business is knowing how to manage your own time. If you got to the point when you don’t have time to solve the problems that take all your time – you know you’re in trouble. Take it from the person who’s been there, done that and haven’t even got a T-shirt. And it’s a pretty obvious thing – no matter how hard you try there’s still same old 24 hours in each day, so you have to make do with what you got. Twice harder if you have a family. That’s when goal management kicks in.

Classic goal management approach is simple – you divide all your goals into short-term and long-term goals on a time scale and into “must-haves”, “should-haves” and “nice-to-haves” on priority scale. This matrix should give you an idea of where you must be, should be and rather would be in short and long term. As I’ve said – pretty simple.

Now comes the tricky part – you have to stick to it. If you have never done this before – it’s twice as hard, because you keep forgetting what you have to do because you’re doing something that you’d rather do and it’s much more fun. Again – I know because I’ve been there too.

All this brings us to a simple conclusion – any entrepreneur must have nerves of steel to impose a very strict time and goal discipline onto himself. There is plenty of tools to help you do that, but for me most of them didn’t work – I had to come up with my own way of doing things. More on that – in next posts.