Most of us will have to admit we stereotype certain business professions. Used car sales people conjure up images of fast talking hustlers, with tacky suits and slicked back hair. We can’t get the image of “ambulance chasing” out of our minds when we think of lawyers. These are stereotypical images that have been built over the years by people’s negative experiences with these professions. Unfortunately there are many great “used car sales people” and many great lawyers, but they automatically get seen from a negative prospective, regardless of how professional and above board they are.
Our business also is stereotyped by many people familiar with the industry. Recently I became all too aware of how that negative stereotype can cost the “good” and reliable movers their reputation and, money.
Reliable Movers – William C Huff Suffer From Stereotyping
For many years now, the moving and storage industry has been exposed as an industry filled with fraud, misrepresentation, theft, damages and an overall disdain for what, unfortunately, is common practice amongst many businesses. Having been in the industry for 30 years I have heard thousands of horror stories about how moving companies have taken advantage of homeowners. 60 minutes, 20-20 and Hard Copy, have all done expose stories on rip-off moving companies.
It is very common for the average American to just assume the worst, when trying to hire a moving company. A few years ago I was at a potential clients’ very nice home and she revealed to me that she was very hesitant to even call a moving company for a quote, because she had had such a terrible experience the first time she hired a company. They showed up late, didn’t have enough room on the truck, didn’t completely finish the work and were still trying to get the work done at midnight. There were lots of damages and the men were less then profession, which made the day even more stressful. With great fear and trepidation she hired our company. Everything went very smoothly and, she now knows that all moving companies are not the same.
About a month ago we became the target of a clients’ stereotyping. Items in our warehouse needed to be moved to another state. When given an over the phone estimate, based on our published rates which we discounted about 30%, this client decided to contact every regulatory and oversight agency associated with our industry and make false complaints about us. Within days our office began getting calls from these agencies to follow-up. In most cases, these bureaus and agencies’ representatives had automatically assumed that our company was guilty of taking advantage of the client. Ironically, all of these bureaus’ also remarked how surprised that this was the only complaint they had ever had about our company…since inception…in 1908!
After lengthy explanation to these groups apologized and assured that they would recommend the client withdraw the complaint. At one point, a news investigative team called saying that this person was complaining about “elderly abuse”. Again, after carefully explaining the facts, he admitted that he “automatically assumed” we were in the wrong, because that’s a common news story.
I have had interactions with some “stereotypical” lawyers and, I have had some very good experiences with lawyers. Over the years I have had the occasion to purchase a few “used” cars from different places and also can say that one experience was just dreadful and the other did not fit the “stereotypical” profile. What I have learned from this recent experience of “profiling” of my company, is that we all need to be maybe a little less quick to just assume that all companies are the same and give them the benefit of doubt, before jumping to conclusions. By jumping to conclusions, the agencies, bureaus and even news stations, all took the wrong side of a one-sided story, costing us countless hours of time and energy to explain how we were not a “stereotypical” company.
We hope this is a helpful lesson and we are a continued reminder to not always judge based on stereotypes. Have a great weekend everyone!