Column: Reliability is pre-eminently “Deeds, Not Words”
“Trust can take years to build, but only a moment to shatter”. Sorry, this is a rather stale saying, but it is true. Gaining someone’s trust is something that as an entrepreneur you have to work on every day. It should actually be a natural and self-evident part of all your activities.
How did I come up with the idea of making the theme trust – or reliability –central to this column? It actually came from a recent conversation I had with a client about the new camera system in our warehouse. We have had 100 cameras installed, so that every package and/or pallet is followed continuously. For example, at bay 23 a truck is being unloaded, with every movement being filmed, the unloading of the pallet, the scanning of the barcode, the movement through the warehouse until, for example, the pallet is loaded for export at bay 56. The beauty of this system is that the risk of mistakes being made is reduced enormously. It can happen that on occasion we can “lose” a pallet. Now we simply type in the number of the barcode and we se immediately where the consignment is.
The client I was talking to about this new system apparently felt I was very enthusiastic and asked me ‘Where does your enthusiasm for that camera system actually come from?’ It is fine when every so often people ask an unexpected question, because that makes you think. And once I started thinking about it I quickly realized that at the core my enthusiasm was not technology-based, but that it was all about the concept of trust. As entrepreneurs, Jasper and I always feel “involved” when people entrust us with a consignment. After all, people hand something over to us in the trust that it will turn out well, and that that consignment will arrive at the right place at the right time. If the something does go wrong we genuinely feel very bad. And if we can utilize technology to make us that bit more reliable, that is just super.
It is just a simple example, but I do think it’s a good answer to the question HOW do you make sure that you’re reliable. Because this is about a couple of things: On the one hand you need a sort self-evident – intrinsic – motivation to do what you agree to do and fulfil your promises. But in addition, it is also about translating that concept of trust to very concrete actions. If you don’t do that, then reliability is a hollow concept, or even worse, it becomes marketing blah blah.
Such a concrete action can be the installation of that camera following system. But you can also apply it in all manner of fields. For example, at Van Duuren we have a number of express lines to cities such as Milan (24 hours) and Madrid (28 hours). These are lines where there are two or three drivers in one truck, and where we can give the guarantee that there is always room for our customers who make regular bookings. We always send the truck, even if it is half full. We provide the certainty of departure and a certainty that there is room for your consignment. That too is a form of reliability.
To cut a long story short: Reliability is without doubt a question of “Deeds, not words”. Or to use another rather corny statement: “Put your Money where your Mouth is”.
Every month I write a column about my experiences as founder and director of Van Duuren. This column can also be found on our website and social media. Would you like to receive my column every month? Let me know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com and I’ll send it to you from now on!