Always Moving Up

Arpin Van Lines Inc. doesn’t have to worry much about quality in its logistics and transportation operation – it sets its own standards for on-time delivery, shipment damages, service level and so on, and works to always meet those standards. The company is confident in the quality it provides because its standards are based – and continuously evaluated – on customer feedback.

“With very few exceptions, corporate clients, the military and government award work to us based on quality scores they give to us on customer surveys,” explains Robert Sullivan, senior vice president of commercial and business development. “We designed our service delivery models and standards around the questions given to our line of business.”

Every level of Arpin’s organization is focused on this system, including each of its approximately 350 employees. To ensure it maintains these standards, the moving services company is building technology to ensure its quality scores are uniform throughout the system. Similar to school, an A score means the company is doing well, and a D score means the opposite.

“There is a common scoring system, so we created a database that allows us to look at every shipment,” Sullivan says. “We measure our suppliers, measure our customer service and then issue monthly report cards to our suppliers and employees. Our customers’ perceptions will rule who gets the work, so we want their perception of us to be good.”

The impetus for creating this system was to adhere to the company’s philosophy to “create customers for life.” Based in Rhode Island, Arpin has more than 330 agency locations throughout North America. It is a division of Arpin Group Inc., which also includes Arpin International Group – a provider of worldwide moving services – and Arpin Moving Systems Canada. Always Moving Up

“We always say we are big enough to do anything a customer might ask us to do, yet we are still small enough to care about every customer we move,” President and CEO David Arpin says. “We do about 35,000 moves a year, and with every person we move we try to deliver the service we sell.”

To ensure its quality system delivered the desired results, Arpin’s customer service associates and field representatives went through extensive training. The system depends on customer evaluations, so to ensure the maximum number of surveys are returned, Arpin donates $10 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for every evaluation returned, up to $25,000 each year.

“Much of what we do to improve is geared to get 360-degree feedback for our service providers,” Arpin says. “They are the people entering our customers’ homes to do the actual moving of the goods. We share our customers’ comments with them, both good and bad. That feedback is then used to eliminate problems that arise from time to time.”

“The evaluations began at only certain levels of the industry, but now it is an industry-wide standard,” Sullivan adds. “We jumped ahead of the curve by building our system around the evaluations. We measure our success in showing up on time to pick up the deliver, making the delivery on time and if there was damage done. We also have a detailed focus on overall service. How was our customer interaction? Were our uniforms clean? Did we return calls quickly? All of this is important.”

Always Moving Up – Growth Through Opportunity

The residential mortgage crisis and high cost of fuel have hit the moving industry hard, so Arpin’s quality system has become a good tool in showing it how to keep costs down. Sullivan says it is important for the company to “watch costs on every level,” so Arpin Van Lines is constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency. Arpin notes there are other changes he’d like to see.

“We would like to have 100 percent customer satisfaction. Because of technology, the moving industry exists in a fish bowl – it is very easy for customers to know how good you are and it is impossible to hide the results of poor service. Most large customers award work volume by your scores. The better you do, the more work you get. Very simple, just the way we like it.”

Check this video to learn about one of the country’s oldest family owned moving companies, “Arpin Van Lines”: