JENNIFER LOUIS // ACCOUNT MANAGER BLUEGRACE LOGISTICS (HQ SATELLITE OFFICE – CHICAGO)
Restaurant Name // Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Location // 431 N Dearborn St, Chicago IL 60654
Favorite drink // Broad Street Hurricane
Favorite entrée // Filet with Fresh Asparagus
STARS (out of 5) // 5 stars all the way!!
“You may end up eating in silence because the food is so good! The steak is like butter and is served on a plate that is 500 degrees; ensuring your steak never gets cold. The Sides are big enough to split which is a good thing because they are so delicious you want to sample a few.” – J. Louis
DEAN MCNEELY // FRANCHISE OWNER BLUEGRACE HOUSTON CENTRAL
Restaurant Name // Corner Table
Location // 2736 Virginia Street Houston, Texas 77098
Favorite drink // All the sustainable and organic infused Vodka options. Right up Randy Collack’s wheel house! Favorite entrée // Filet with Fresh Asparagus
STARS (out of 5) // 5
“A place I like to take BG VP’s when they come to town and a frequently spot I post pictures on Twitter.” – D. McNeely
REESE WEATHER // ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE BLUEGRACE HEADQUARTERS // TAMPA, FLORIDA
Restaurant Name // Carne Chop House
Location // Ybor City // 1536 East 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605 Favorite drink // Crown apple and ginger ale
Favorite entrée // Trout Almondine
STARS (out of 5) // 5
“I love the Jason’s Split Pea and Smoked Ham Hock soup.” – R. Weathers
“The opportunity to partner with a business such as BlueGrace Logistics has been nothing but wonderful. I am excited for what the future will hold and having the ability to learn from the best in the business. During my first year I hope to begin building a positive environment for my office location. One that is fun, hardworking, and passionate about helping businesses with their logistic needs. I look forward to continually meeting everyone within the BlueGrace Logistics network and hope everyone has a great 2015!” – Brian Stutzman
BlueGrace would like to recognize the Q4 2014 Franchisees of the Month. Below are the 3 top performing franchisees of the quarter.
“We are so happy about where our success has led us this year. We could not be more excited about closing out the year and being honored with the Franchise of the Month award” – Tim and Becky Salavejus
“Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re taking the right steps toward success. I second guess myself all of the time, but it gives me some peace of mind that the corporate office feels positively about the decisions I’ve made. I just hope my franchise’s performance in the next few months can live up to the honor.” – Sharon McWilliams
“I contribute our success to expounding on the culture by mimicking BlueGrace Corporate” – Jeff Lavallee
Here are some tid-bits of information from BG Team Members!
“The carrier and pricing teams are now participating in the development of resourceful material for our prospects and customers. I’m very excited to be a part of our team’s collective voice.” – Ragan Green
“Right now, I’m really passionate about the company engagement initiatives like Leader Floor Time and the Employee Desk Swap. We have had such a tremendous amount of positive feedback.” – Whitney McKay
“I like our growth and what’s going on with it. There are people being hired every day. Our sales team is seeing more and more resources from management and it’s exciting.” – Aaron McClain
REVAMPING THE SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT IN 2015 – The PowerTweeter Game Just Got Real.
43% of businesses permit all of their employees to access social media sites at work, according to a recent survey conducted by Proskauer. It’s pretty crazy to think that the majority of businesses still believe that employees should be banned from interacting with the world while on the clock-something that all of us here at BlueGrace have so much freedom with and often take for granted.
Since BlueGrace has an open social media policy, it should be used by every employee, every day. We’re passionate about being social and want all of our employees to feel the same way. It’s important for them to see just how much impact 140 characters can make in a day.
We want to hear what you have to say, we want you to be involved and to be social!
So here’s a challenge for you! We challenge you to use our #hashtags and interact with us. Every day. Make it fun, make it interesting, make it YOU.
So, BlueGrace… Do YOU accept this challenge?
HASH IT OUT! #HashtagChallenge
“Since marketing started the Hashtag cloud, we’ve seen an increase in engagement and it aids in the adoption of social media in the workplace. If you don’t know where to start creating content, start with the HashTag Challenge. It will absolutely revitalize your social efforts” -Natalie Rockefeller, Director of Marketing
Launched in 2014, the Vivid Vision is our roadmap to success through 2017 as a leading freight shipping company. Each member of BlueGrace plays a critical role in the development of our company. Don’t do tomorrow what you can do today…Bringing The Vivid Vision To Life starts now.
Finding your way in an organization can be very difficult if you don’t know how to get there. President and CEO, Bobby Harris released the Vivid Vision: What BlueGrace Looks Like in 2017 at the 2014 Annual BlueGrace Logistics Franchise Conference in Las Vegas in July.
The document served as a footprint and layout to the company’s success. The Vision for each department’s growth and development is defined and goals are established company-wide. The Vivid Vision is available to all employees. You can begin your action plan now by reading it in its entirety and plan your part! Create your goals with the Vivid Vision in mind and share your ideas through TinyPulse and with your managers.
Everyone should be preparing for weather conditions, delays and other instances during the holidays that make it a stressful time for customers. We asked a few BlueGrace experts to chime in and provide valuable insight on the subject:
Mike Zaruba // International Support Lead
Holidays are always difficult to work around in our industry. We lose valuable transit days with shipments when carriers aren’t moving freight. Add to that, the fact that the winter holidays are occurring during the time of year where the weather is already affecting a large portion of the country. So there are multiple obstacles to overcome this time of year. The holidays also bring customers that ship primarily for this season. They are shipping products specifically geared towards the holidays, so their shipment counts increase exponentially. The closer it gets to the actual holidays themselves, the more urgent a customer’s needs become to ship the product out so it leaves their location in enough time to get to the destination with the missing transit days accounted for. This is when we get have to embrace chaos and set ourselves apart from everyone else. Times like these are when our customers need us most. When faced with this adversity and these challenges, that doesn’t give us an excuse to fail. It gives us an opportunity to show our character and our value and stand above the rest.
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If it did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Charlotte Bronte
Juan Flores // Customer Loyalty Representative
During the holiday season the freight world gets unpredictable. Just like any lotto, we try to guess what might take place or the winning combination; but in the end we really don’t know what will take place. In a lot of fields out there the holiday season is a whine down time. For freight world it gets chaotic, everyone is trying to clear docs, empty warehouses, and get their books in order. During this crazy time a great thing that I have learned and done was to take a deep breath and relax. We as humans have a tendency to fight back or do things that might hurt others when pushed into a corner. To prevent that, take the time to breathe, move from that corner, and reset your brain. Not only will you have that “WOOSAAA” moment and feel better, you will think clearer and make better choices, which will benefit our customers and you will make fewer mistakes. Hey! It’s only the holidays, embrace the chaos.
“CHAOS, My favorite place to vacation in. I take days off just to embrace its glory.”- Juan Flores
Brant Wensloff // Enterprise Sales Manager
Holiday season presents challenges with everything from employees being absent to limited carrier schedules. BG employees must certainly embrace the chaos during the holidays and prepare their customers for proper shipping expectations. Carriers are experiencing increasing volumes of shipments and must also deal with driver shortages. Combine that with holidays that are non-shipping days (for LTL carriers), shippers are faced with potentially longer transit times. Don’t forget the looming polar vortex that may create winter snowstorms that will shut down shipping lanes! It’s important for all BG employees to prepare their customers and set these expectations prior to the holiday season. Ensuring that customers understand that there are longer shipping times during the holidays and to plan accordingly. Recommending better equipped Tier 1 carriers that have more resources will provide better service results. The BG team should also be prepared to face our own internal chaos and embrace the fact their colleagues will be out for extended periods of time, using their vacation days to spend with family. Be ready to double up on your duties and cover for your fellow teammate. They’ll be sure to return the favor when you take your vacation days!
“Things are not moving fast enough, growing and improving without the right amount of chaos applied. Organized chaos is exciting and keeps work from becoming dull!” – Brant Wensloff
Check out what employees have to say about BlueGrace’s biggest contest of the year!
TIM LARA // ENTERPRISE TRUCKLOAD COORDINATOR
“At first it’s about the money, you see that $1000 and start thinking of the ways you could spend it. Once crunch time hits it starts becoming more and more about everyone else, more and more about the company and how you want to do every-thing you can to see Bobby come out and hit that gong!” – Tim Lara
TAMMY VALENZUELA // SENIOR MANAGER, NATIONAL SALES
Don’t forget your value adds! Let our customers know that we don’t just want their shipment, we want their business. It’s easy to secure a shipment with promoting the lowest cost carrier, but we have so much more to offer. Secure long term business relationships with your customers by educating them on BG’s value adds. From BlueShip to live tracking, to 3rd party insurance and much more you’ll secure more business and get us closer to the $7.7 goal!
RYAN MCGUINNESS // FRANCHISE DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Last year’s 7.5 contest was, without question, one of my favorite memories here at BlueGrace. It was a special time seeing so many people and departments come together for a common goal. There was a buzz and feel in the office that was unmatched. As you all may know, we are behind in this year’s goal of 7.7. At this point not only are we behind, but does anyone even care? Let’s change that!
Here at some tips to try to replicate or BEAT what we accomplished last year:
Get social! Talk about the contest on Twitter and Facebook. Engage and challenge your teammates and other departments. Talking about the contest helps create that buzz.
Do you know what it takes? Do you know the numbers we need to hit? Print them out and display them on your desk, by your monitor, or wherever you will see it multiple times per day. Just don’t use tape (you’re welcome Mike).
Do one just more thing than usual. Ask for that extra shipment, ask to help out, ask for an upcharge, and just ask! Doing just one more thing per customer interaction or around the office goes a long way and the right people notice. Last year’s 7.5 contest paved the way for so many people that you now see as leaders at BlueGrace. That could be you.
Since last year our office has grown so much and so has the level of talent I see every day. BlueGrace has a history of laughing in the face of ridiculous goals and just getting things done. Embrace the chaos, pur-sue this outrageous goal, be passionate, and most importantly be happy and have fun along the way!
KARI BOLLIN //TL ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE
I think it is important to reach company goals because it shows that we are all in this together. We all may have dif-ferent roles and responsibilities but in the end we all are here or should be here to be successful and want to be part of something bigger than what we can accomplish by ourselves. Reaching this company goal will embrace all 8 of our Core Values and I am excited to see how everyone shines!
DAVE INZERILLO // DIRECTOR ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT
A good way to make sure we all hit our overall goal is to make sure you set small goals along the way that are in line with the overall goal. Know what you have to do daily and be able to make adjustments to those goals as things can change. Make sure you utilize all the resources you have including your colleges. We can achieve more when we work together, and most of all, Work hard. Don’t leave anything on the table.
RAGAN GREEN // CARRIER & ENTERPRISE SOLUTIONS COORDINATOR
What motivates me is positive collaborative effort: unique skill sets communicat-ing and pushing in the same direction- such as our 7.7 goal. The Monday morning meetings are such a great way to set intention and bring focus. It may be aRagan Green // Carrier & Enterprise Solutions Coordinator
good idea to have teams briefly meet half way thru the week to bring attention back to the goal by “shouting out” any steps made towards it. Listening to each other’s input and positive collaboration is where it’s at.
STACEY ROSE // ENTERPRISE ARCHITECT
When I was asked to share my thoughts for a 7.7 column, I was given several topics to choose from including the importance of goals, motivating others, and the excitement surrounding the contest itself. As I thought about each topic and what I wanted to write about, I realized every topic was related to the next and my mind kept going back to our eight Core Values. It’s all right there. Ok, Stacy, what the hell do the Core Values have to do with Lao-Tzu’s quote about leadership and the 7.7 contest you ask? To me, our eight Core Values can be simplified into one statement: “Be a Leader”. One does not have to be given a “leadership” title to be a leader, nor does one have to explicitly be given the responsibility of leading others to be a leader. We all can be a leader in many aspects of our lives inside and outside of the company walls if we approach it with the right tools and more importantly the right attitude. If we all embrace the empowerment we have been allowed to be leaders in our daily work lives, we can-not help but be successful. We’ve already proven it. The Core Values are the tools — the “how”. Striving for goals, motivating yourself and others, contest excitement, positivity — they all tie back to the Core Values. It’s all right there.
JOE CUBERO // NATIONAL SALES MANAGER
It is VERY important to me to reach 7.7 simply being that I am competitive by na-ture and I love a challenge. This is a pretty lofty goal that has been set, but that’s what BlueGrace is all about. Whenever a goal of this magnitude is set it makes everyone in the company to take everything to the next level. Being that Culture is huge part of BG, there is a vibe in the air to WANT to succeed. 50% of hitting this goal is Attitude. Once we believe as a company we can achieve it, all that’s left to do is go and make it happen.
MELISSA BAUKNIGHT // CORPORATE RECRUITER
I started at BlueGrace 2 weeks before we reached 7.5 last year. Though I knew nothing about the contest, I knew about to experience something groundbreaking. You could feel the excitement all over the floor in EVERY department. It was an aggressive goal last year and it’s an aggressive goal this year. Only now, we have more employees to help us get there. Focus and dedication is the key. Let’s keep the momentum and hype up. #SevenPointSeven!
Rated: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆ By: Jill Cox, Credit & Billing Manager
Cappy’s is the best pizza on the planet by far and that is NO JOKE. We go to the Bran-don location in the Winthrop Town Center which is super cozy and the staff is excellent. They have a small menu including a NY style (gooey and thin – my favorite) and a Chicago style pizza. They only use fresh ingredients so you can convince yourself you still have a cheat day after Cappy’s. It’s not even normal how good the pizza is! If you don’t believe me ask Rick Mendoza! They also have locations in St. Pete, South Tampa and New Tampa so you have no excuse, BG Headquarters, not to check it out. Most locations are only open for dinner. Don’t miss this!
The Stein & Vine (www.thesteinandvine.com)
827 W. Bloomingdale Avenue, Brandon, FL 33511
Rated:⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆ By: Randy Williard, Carrier Sales Rep
Great small time restaurant/bar. They have a small menu but their burgers are great. They have a unique menu; not just your typical burger and fries. Make sure you go and try the pork wings – you won’t regret it.
The Refinery is one my favorite places to get brunch! It lies in a 2-story house with wooden floors, an open kitchen, and drinks served out of mason jars which gives it a southern rustic feel. Reservations are required for indoor seating, however walk-ins are welcome on the outside patio (2nd level) which provide a nice, intimate dining experi-ence. They have a decent selection of wine and craft beers. Their menu changes weekly depending on the availability of fresh produce from the local market. The servers are friendly and will educate you on their selection of organic, gluten free, or vegan eating. You almost feel at home.
Want to submit your restaurant review? Send them to marketing.and we might include your submission on the next BluePrint!
BlueGrace Fair Oaks, led by franchise owner Sharon McWilliams is November 2014 Franchise of the Month. Sharon has been a part of the BlueGrace franchise network since 2011. In the last 3 months since returning from our Double Up Conference Sharon has strongly focused on increasing her sales numbers. Her success has brought her to be able to relocate to an office location where she has hired 2 new sales representatives and a part time admin. BlueGrace Fair Oaks is focusing on the process of what customers are helping her business by eliminating less transactional business. With the new office location and more employees Fair Oaks is looking to close out 2014 with a bang.
“Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re taking the right steps toward success. I second guess myself all of the time, but it gives me some peace of mind that the corporate office feels positively about the decisions I’ve made. I just hope my franchise’s performance in the next few months can live up to the honor.” – Sharon McWilliams, BlueGrace Fair Oaks
Twitter is one of those social media platforms that you use for the first time and you either love it or hate it. For BlueGrace it’s the social media platform of the century. Our company is one of the most active logistics companies on Twitter. We are interacting on Twitter daily, which is the “One Thing” that makes us a remarkable example of social media in the workplace. As a company, we’re “engaged” with everyone that interacts with us; and employees play the most critical role in the development of this social media platform. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen a number of really cool things come of engaging on the platform from the front line and as an employee. One that stands out to me was the first time we saw our Inc. 500 Ranking as the #1 Logistics and Transportation Company. On a work trip to San Francisco, the 2012 Inc. 500 had just been published and was on shelves. As I saw the cover on the shelves in a gift shop at the Tampa International Airport a Twitter alert went off “@IncOnline mentioned @mybluegrace on Twitter.” Sure enough we were mentioned the #1 Transportation and Logistics Company. I smiled and thought to myself “Oh snap. I work there, haaaaaaaaaay!” Next thing you know, the entire BlueGrace family starts chiming in. Tid-bits of information with BlueGrace and Inc. Magazine blasted all over Twitter. It was great because people said what they needed to say and it was quick; Unlike a Facebook status that reads a few paragraphs and keeps you thinking. A Tweet is direct and to the point like “Boom, in your face.” So you’re probably thinking, “Well, O.K. I see how that could be cool but how do I ‘engage’.” The most important thing is commit to it, just like anything else you’re trying to accomplish. Start by looking at your calendar and Identify what you can gain out of the experience both personally and professionally. BlueGrace’s best “PowerTweeters” follow people, companies, musicians, and anyone /anything that peaks their interest.
Let’s take a look at some other AWESOME things that have happened as a result of BlueGrace and BlueGrace employees engaging on Twitter:
Steve Hicks (@BG_Steve) gets retweeted by Jose Canseco (June 23, 2013)
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Truck Tour Stops by BlueGrace Tampa (2013, 2014) & Chicago Office (2014)
Jeremy Piven (Ari from the HBO Series, “Entourage,”) DM’s Dustin Snipes (2011)
Ryan Mitchell (Carrier Sales Representative) gets RT by NFL official Twitter account (2014)
Carol Haeck gets some RT love by La Crema Wine Company and the National Humane Society brand. (2013, 2014)
Customer gets response from Denise Richards from BG employee influence!
So what are you waiting for? Get on Twitter, make it part of your day. You never know what the end result will be! Need help? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In January I will have been with BG for 3 years. So far it has been an awesome and crazy ride. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of such an amazing group of people all contributing to the rapid growth, innovative changes, and incredible culture.
I was fresh out of college and new to Florida in 2012, and couldn’t have been more fortunate and lucky to get a chance with Blue Grace. After a few months as a NSR a new role was developed. Myself and christin pylant were the guinea pigs for the “Recovery/Retention Team”. There was a lot of unknown going into this new position, but even in 2012 one thing remained the same “Trust the Process”. Although it was a little different to be working directly with previously unhappy customers it proved to be successful. This was truly embracing chaos as we were contacting customers who had pretty messy situations which lead them to stop working with Blue Grace. That type of experience was invaluable. Having success in that position opened the door for me to be a part of the first, and newly created POD/Team 360 Blue. Being lucky enough to be a part of this has been critical to my growth here. We are an ever changing department and I am looking forward to see what the future holds for us.
In the midst of all the change and hyper growth the one thing that has made it so easy to wake up every morning and be excited is the culture. The people here define the culture and without the group that we have it wouldn’t be possible. From Boo Grace, dunk tanks, cats vs dogs (which lead me to now own a little Cami), FSU celebration days, and all the other themes it has been incredibly fun to be a part of. The culture doesn’t just stop within the office. In July I was able to attend The Double Up Conference in Las Vegas. I don’t think other companies don’t offer trips to Vegas. The knowledge, info, and tools for success I learned there will surely help me grow and sharpen my skills at Blue Grace. The people I had a chance to meet were even better. From everyone in the office in Tampa to all the franchise owners Blue Grace only deals with great people. All that being said I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I was given about 3 years ago. I moved to Florida knowing no one, and now I have a 175+ person Florida family. It has been a hell of a ride, and I can’t wait to embrace the future chaos!
This month’s Q&A is with BlueGrace Fair Oaks Sharon McWilliams, owner since 2011. From lawyer to franchise owner, Sharon is a great example of a successful Business Woman. She just happens to be part of our network.
Q: When did you become interested in a BlueGrace Franchise and how did you find out about it? A: I was so excited back in 2011 when President and CEO, Bobby Harris decided to franchise BlueGrace. I had known Bobby from a previous freight job and I found it to be a fascinating segment of the shipping industry. When Bobby started Blue Grace as a freight franchise system, I was immediately interested in focusing my business efforts solely on freight.
Q: What has helped make your business successful? I have found having good employees is the primary thing that has helped me be successful. My employees treat every customer like they are important. We have a great retention rate of our customers because they know we will work smarter and harder for them than other logistics companies.
Q: What challenges have you overcome to be successful? A: I would say, my only challenge of being a franchise owner would be not having enough hours in the day.
Q: How have you juggled having a family and flourishing business? A: Instead of beating myself up over the fact that I can’t give 100% to both my business and my family, I look for ways to be more efficient. It can be hard juggling family life and a business, but these years with kids at home are short and I feel lucky every day that I have control over where I devote my time. When I decided I needed to spend more time with my children after school with homework and activities, I hired an additional person in the office, which eased up some of my office workload.
Q: What is your greatest success as a Blue-Grace Franchise Owner?
A: The joy that I feel in coming to work every day. I enjoy all of my employees and I get to work with amazing customers and freight companies.
July’s Franchise of the Month is BlueGrace NJ Metro, led by franchise owners Dennis Schanstra and Anthony Franco. Dennis and Anthony met in the freight industry and decided to put their 25 years of freight experience to do business for themselves, and in January 2013 they became owners of a BlueGrace franchise. By focusing on sales and getting new activations, they have doubled their numbers in the last few weeks. NJ Metro will soon be seeking for employees to hire. They have formulated a combination of inside and outside sales, utilized the contracts they have in place and pushed insurance to bring them to this success today.
“With only being franchise owners for the last 6 months, this is a huge success for New Jersey Metro. We couldn’t be more pleased with how much we’ve grown and look to grow in the future. Our goal is to double everything.”
Imagine one day, while living your life, completely happy and healthy, you start noticing some changes with your body. You start noticing your hands are weakening and you have random muscle twitching. You don’t think much of it but decide to see a doctor. After months of testing and visits to a specialist, you are told you have ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Your immediate thought is AL, what? At that point you don’t even realize the severity of the disease because you never really heard much about it. It doesn’t take long for both you and your family to read up and learn that this is one of the most devastating diagnoses you could ever receive. ALS is an immediate death sentence.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what my family was faced with back in 2012. My stepfather was diagnosed with ALS at the young age of 55. While statistics show the average life expectancy of a person with ALS is 2 to 5 years after diagnoses, we were only given 10 months with him. In those 10 months we suffered with him as we watched him lose his ability to walk, talk, eat, and move. He was fed through a feeding tube and required a BiPap breathing machine at night. During this time family and friends who were once there are not coming around as much. They don’t know what to say or how to act as they are grieving already. As his condition worsened, the BiPap machine could not keep up. It was his wish to not to be put on a ventilator which is a hard decision every ALS patient and their family need to make. He lost his battle on December 9, 2012.
Currently, there is only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ALS, which only modestly extends survival by two to three months. Consequently, ALS is 100 percent fatal. In addition to acclimating to the challenges that come with losing control of voluntary muscle movement, people with the disease progressively lose their ability to eat, speak, walk, and eventually breathe. It is like being buried alive while being completely aware of your fate. ALS does not discriminate and affects people of all races, gender and age.
Prior to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, The ALS Association struggled to collect donations which are needed to fund research. The pharmaceutical companies are not as involved with ALS research since the disease is not an easy money maker. ALS is not as common as other diseases like cancer and people really don’t talk about ALS. Like our family, when you lose a loved one, you feel defeated, like being a lonely soldier in a war against the world. Seeing the attention brought to ALS is extremely uplifting for those of us who’ve suffered loss from ALS or are currently fighting. Whether you have the means to donate or you just spread the message with a happy video of ice water dumping on your head… it is appreciated and it is helping in so many ways! For more info visit www.alsa.org
“We have a marketing department for that” – That’s a sentence I often hear from businesses opposed to being part of the latest trend in social media: to integrate it with the company. Social media integration is about getting the entire company so excited about what’s going on at work that they all communicate it, instead of having only one designated person doing that while keeping the rest of the company from being part of it.
Businesses everywhere are trying to decide whether allowing social media at work is or isn’t a trend that works. BlueGrace, however, is ahead of the trend. Not only are most of our employees active on social media and are using it as part of their daily work routine, but the company has also grown over 7,000% since its inception in 2009! With numbers like those, it’s clear that BlueGrace is doing something right.
A great misconception about integrating social media as part of a company’s culture is that it creates chatter and allows the employees to talk, but social media isn’t just about chatting, it’s about listening too! Our employees are actively listening to what’s going on in the industry and spreading the latest news as it come out, making social media a way to become educated and educate others.
When employees are online the possibilities for them to create connections are endless, and connections are what makes a company grow. Why not give your company the ability to do that? Banning social media from work is a great way to keep employees out of the loop with what’s going on in the industry. Social media is about creating a healthy chatter to always put your company ahead of the game.
“Everything is social now with business,” says Paula Barca, BlueGrace Account Executive.
Many companies are also concerned that allowing social media at work may make the company look less professional. We disagree with that. Social media makes the company more personable. It puts faces to the company allowing the clients to get to know each of our employees, and the employees get to know each other. It’s another outlet for employees to connect with clients and even generate new leads.
“Look at the companies who are extremely high in customer service and customer satisfaction – they are engaging their customers on Twitter, Facebook and other social media avenues,” says Barca.
Social media shouldn’t only be used by the marketing team. At BlueGrace, we’ve learned to integrate it in every department. Our Client Relations team often answers questions and communicates through Twitter. The Recruiting department are always on the lookout for candidates who will fit into our culture by looking through Twitter and Facebook. We now even created 360Blue, a support team available for select clients not only through a direct phone line, but also via Twitter, where employees engage and answer clients’ questions in real-time.
“360Blue is following our customers on Twitter and tweeting every day to make sure the customers are up to date on what is happening at BlueGrace,” says Barca.
To survive in the business world nowadays, companies need to be innovative. They need to understand technology and move forward with it and not let old habits keep them from growing. BlueGrace believes in the future and is excited to continue keeping up with what works today and what will work in the future as technology progresses.
Do you know the most common answer I get when I ask a BlueGrace franchise owner about their performance goals?
You probably wouldn’t believe it, but we have some very competitive personalities in our channel. Almost every franchisee’s response is to “outperform the rest of the franchisees and be the #1 franchise in the company”.
We were interested to see what BlueGrace Indianapolis Central franchise owner, Pete Foradas was doing to grow his franchise with being so successful in just one year of becoming an owner.
Exactly one year ago, Pete Foradas grabbed a bull by the horns and decided he wanted to become a franchise owner. He inquired about BlueGrace Logistics, and it turned into the perfect fit. Foradas has been very successful in growing BlueGrace’s brand. He is a sales machine, and in these last few weeks he is doubling his numbers. We first asked him what is his most successful technique for selling and this is what he said:
a. Create a game plan for every day of the week. I block out time for prospecting door to door in a specific territory. I make a goal for how many doors I want to hit, how many leads I should generate, how many appointments I should set, deals I should close, and activations I should record.
b. Persistency is one key to success; the other is spending time in the right places. I try to focus on leads that fit “inside that box” which statistically yield a higher rate of return.
c. Finding common ground within a meeting is imperative. Associating with clients and relating to their organization creates an environment conducive to productivity. Creating a partnership is key. Finding common ground and creating trust is crucial to long term, residual income.
“I have so much to learn from all of the talented executives and franchise owners in our system. I’ve yet to spend the time with others around the country to observe the “best practices” of some of our finest franchisees. I think it’s a fair to say that I’m one of the younger owners in our system, and one thing I need other business owners in the market place to recognize, is that I am a young professional”. – says Foradas.
Foradas loves being a franchise owner because he enjoys the freedom, and his ability to call the shots. He knows that he is in business for himself, so calling the shots and giving it all he’s got, helps him know he is getting the job done. We next asked him what his secret is to running a successful franchise:
“Consistency and Accountability. I’ve found that being predictable is a good thing. It means you’re consistent. Whether it’s consistently good or bad, just be consistent. Your customer wants to feel there’s a process in place, and so do your employees. Consistency provides a sense of control and trust. From an accountability standpoint, I hold myself responsible for everything that happens under my watch. Whether the carrier allows freight to sit on their dock for 2 weeks without notifying anyone, or I recommend a service that saves my client time and money, I hold myself accountable. I let the people around me know that I made an error, but I also make sure they know when I went above and beyond for them. I schedule 30-60-90 day business reviews. If you have BDMs (Business Development Managers), assign them to the account after 90 days. Allow your sales reps to sell and your BDMs to manage. A BDM would be compensated on growth of existing accounts and retention” – says Foradas.
Foradas knows sales is the most important aspect of our industry and he feels there’s too much competition to rely on your current book of business to get you to retirement. He believes that he tells a pretty good story of who we are and what we do, and how we position ourselves in the market. So he believes in relating to the business of others and asking as many questions as possible. He uses handouts to illustrate our product and services during meetings. Foradas associates his success with hard work, “hard work means knocking on more doors, and knocking on more doors means more leads, more leads means that I have more phone calls to make, and more phones calls means more appointments, and more appointments means more sales, more sales means more money. It’s really that simple,” says Foradas.
“Securing the business of your customers is the key. It isn’t a daily sale for me. I secure my business in the initial meetings by setting the expectation of what it will be like to work with BGL and Pete Foradas. I remind them of the road bumps that we’ll face together as partners and I try to create value outside of the transaction” – says Foradas.
Foradas said that becoming a franchise owner has made him grow and mature in ways he never knew possible. He may not be thrilled about Indiana, but financially it’s great. He really had to learn how to act as an accountant and pay attention to his finances, which he rarely had to do, because once someone cut him a check, whatever was in the bank was what he had to spend, so overall it’s impacted the way he looks at his dollar, or how it’s spent. It’s changed the way he looks at businesses as far as liability, insurance and protecting his own assets by who he goes into business with.
“I understand jumping into business ventures is risky, I make sure I do my due diligence and make sure it is a good fit. It correlates with how I make friends, how I handle my personal relationships with my significant others and my family members. Just taking into consideration all those variables, and applying what I have learned through business into my day to day life”.
Having a strategy is everything, so Foradas looks to hire Sales and Truckload employees, and nearly double his revenue in the next year.