I know in customer service we all deal with SOME problems that look like they're on the edge of turning violent, and while we don't have injury statistics like a true hazardous occupation, we don't seem to use any real precautions either.
For instance there's a rumor floating around about a driver for a local facility who ended up in the hospital with a severe head injury after delivering his company truck to a customer. He couldn't remember how it happened so the investigation never really got off the ground.
Our company move-in truck is driven only by employees, but we require the customer to give the driver a ride back to work while he leaves the truck with them (Owner's not paying us to stand around with the truck all day). Quite apart from the threat of violence I have been in some insanely unsafe cars or with unsafe drivers (one woman turned out to be intoxicated, I don't know how it could be so obvious once we got moving without being apparent before I got in the car, probably the fact that she was just weird to begin with). And of course I'm pretty regularly backing the truck down a dark alley in a horrible part of town, towards a "moving party" who are plainly drunk or stoned, or breaking out in screaming and violence against each other.
Point of the story: our operations manual says we can be fired for possession of weapons including pepper spray. I think that itself is crazy in the above situation. But there's probably better preventative ways to protect ourselves without increasing liability, so if you've got any ideas for me/us, please by all means tell!
Ouch. I'd consider this outfit a very good employer in a lot of other ways. More importantly there's no way I'm the only one dealing with this sort of thing, the guy who ended up in the hospital was supposed to be working for one of the big chains.
I feel like I need to justify my company now! For my part, that drunk woman was a wake-up call, and I'm very prepared to inform customers that if they can't provide a safe, sober ride for me then they forfeit their use of the truck. It's really "am I driving into a mugging?" thing that concerns me.
Are you guys suggesting that the employee-driven move-in truck is not viable? It's a pretty well-used formula so far as I know, or are we just doing it wrong in my town?
I have a move in truck as well. While I have never encountered any situations you have mentioned, I do have some suggestions.
1. The leasing company that you leased your truck from does not like the facilities driving the trucks. The insurance coverage is designed for the tenant to drive the truck, not the facility manager. You may have legal exposure when you provide the driver. The insurance coverage is not designed to cover the manager transporting loaded goods for the tenant.
2. I have a GPS device installed on my truck. I use a website called LightningGPS.com and it shows where the truck is at all times. The GPS device was $300 and the monthly monitoring charge is only $19.95 per month.
3. I would operate the truck only during daylight hours. After hours truck runs are more likely to be accident prone and may cause you to work overtime.
4. If a tenant appears drunk or stoned, don't deliver the truck until the following day. If you change your policy and let the tenant drive the truck, the same common sense rules apply, don't let drunks drive.
5. My assistant manager and I occasionally deliver the truck to our customers for convenience. In those cases, we take money out of petty cash and take a cab back to the facility. Just another cost of doing business.
6. There are always rumors in self storage about wierd things that happen. Additionally, wierd things happen to everyone in every industry. Is it rumor or it is fact, doesn't matter. I would not cease providing a valuable customer service simply because a few problems are encountered. Every operations/personnel manual in the country forbids weapons while on the job. Would you want to work for a company that said in their operations manual, "Every employee shall pack a loaded weapon each day for their own personal safety"? Of course, any good company is going to forbid weapons.
7. I would ignore the two words -- Updated Resume! comments and mindset and simply tell your owners what your problems are and ask for permission to minimize your personal and business risk.
By the way, no need to justify your company. These posts are just, thankfully, the opinions of others.
Thank you Jughead.
It's odd that the main reason given for our current system is actually insurance, i.e. that a company vehicle is cheaper to insure than a rental, according to the higher-ups. Is your truck leased from a specialized company or simply from a dealership?
I like your idea of of using a cab, and while it's important to keep costs down when you're offering a free service, maybe if the customer fails to transport our driver according to our standards we could simply add a charge that covers the added cost, keeping everyone (relatively) happy.
I was always concerned about the hassles of handing the keys over to the customers ("That dent was already there!" "I thought I could turn it in up to midnight!" "The number you have dialed is not in service..." etc.) Now I'm starting to see the appeal.
Hey Mr. Autodoc, your comments are welcome. My only concern was that StorLyon wasn't faulting his owner, he simply stated that the manual forbid employees from carrying weapons. I believe that every reasonable owner/company would have the same policy for obvious reasons. Most conflicts between owners and managers, husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, co workers, etc., are the direct result of unmet expectations. It sounds like the owner has the standard, boilerplate, "we can't condone guns or violence" policy statements in their manual. Yet, we all know that the owner probably did not even know about StorLyon's concern for personal safety. Once StorLyon expressed his/her concerns about safety and the owner said, "Tough, get out there anyway." Then we can all abhor the uncaring and dismissive attitude towards his/her employees. In this case, I think just dialogue between StorLyon and the owner can resolve the issues and everyone can feel comfortable.
By the way Mr. Autodoc, I see you comments all the time and I chuckle at your wit and candor. Your a good guy and I respect your comments, even if they differ with mine.