IAM Learning celebrates its first birthday

Dec 03 | 2019

In 2018 IAM (International Association of Movers) launched its new training initiative, IAM Learning, a multi-platform resource offering training across a wide range of subjects exclusively for IAM members. At this year’s IAM Conference in Chicago the man behind the idea, Ray daSilva, explained how the initiative had progressed in its first year and how members can tap into the many benefits it has to offer.

IAM Learning celebrates its first birthday

IAM Learning was launched at last year’s IAM conference in response to requests from members running some of the smaller companies for training facilities that would mirror those available to large organisations with their own in-house training programmes.

Ray daSilva spent many years in the moving industry and was responsible for starting the Crown University for Crown Worldwide before starting his own consultancy.  Many of the principals that were used in the Crown model have been incorporated into the IAM Learning programme, most of which are free to IAM members.

Ray began by explaining why training is so important and how sitting someone with ‘Joe’ to learn the ropes just isn’t good enough.  “First you have to recruit the right people. No matter how good a cook you are if you don’t have the right ingredients you will finish up with rubbish,” said Ray. “But if you have the right people and don’t invest in their training you’ll finish up with rubbish as well.”

Ray went on to say that while we work in a very competitive industry and need to keep costs under control, it is a fallacy to think that by not investing in your people you will become more competitive.  Ray used the analogy of operating a truck.  “If you buy a truck and don’t change the oil and invest in maintenance the truck will break down, staff are the same, if you don’t invest in them, they will break down too,” said Ray.

 “We’re just getting started, it’s only a year, and it’s still a very small baby, but I think we’ve done some good things and with your help we’re going to make it even better,” said Ray.

IAM Learning began by offering a move coordinators online course for newcomers to the moving industry. “We decided to put this out based on what you told us you wanted, it wasn’t us telling you this is what you need,” said Ray.

IAM’s approach was to provide a course for someone with no knowledge of the industry.  “We do this sometimes,” said Ray. “We hire someone from the hospitality industry with great customer skills, the ‘lights are on’, they’re a good potential staff member, but know nothing about the moving business.”

The move coordinators programme comprises five course elements covering everything from the reasons why people move, to modes of transport, business communication, and concludes with a final assessment.

Ray asked the audience to think about how much they spend to get the phone to ring and the folly of then putting a junior person on reception with little knowledge of what the company does to answer it.

“We phoned a number of companies as ‘mystery shoppers’ and you know what, they were all shocking,” said Ray. “That’s one of the things we aim to put right.  Our students get to listen to the calls and engage with the instructor through multi-choice questions and essays to see if they get the point: most of them do.”

The second course IAM Learning put forward was Residential Sales Training for people who visit the customer in their homes to get the business. “When we put the course together, we talked to industry professionals and asked them what it was like to actually do this and what skills were required.  It was a very long list,” said Ray. “And yet lots of moving companies don’t take the time to equip their staff with the skills they need to be successful.  We teach them how to do a survey, how to differentiate their company from the competition, how to prepare a presentation, right through to closing techniques and how to overcome objections.  It’s an entire programme and I hope you’ll check it out.”

Other courses currently available include Information and Needs Analysis, which explores how to talk to the customer to gain the information you need without it seeming like an interrogation.  The Move Plan covering how to take the information from the needs analysis and prepare a move proposal.  Introduction to Transport & Forwarding, and Managing Service Partners.

Ray concluded by asking the audience to consider how much they spend to generate each opportunity to quote for a move by dividing their total spend on advertising, marketing, etc. by the number of enquiries they receive.  Although no one in the room had ever actually done the exercise in their own business, it was agreed that a figure of $750 was a reasonable estimate.

“Think about it,” said Ray. “You’re paying $750 to put a sales person in a car and present a quotation and you don’t equip them with the best chance to close the sale. What! The IAM heard you, we know a lot of you don’t have the resources to develop your own training programme so here it is, we hope you’ll take a look.”

Malcolm PearsonBasic online insurance course

During Ray’s presentation, Malcolm Pearson of Reason Global Insurance was invited to the stage to talk about an online course they designed in collaboration with IAM Learning to help move coordinators and others involved in the moving process. 

“When IAM Learning came forward and asked us to help we were delighted,” said Malcolm.

“The aim wasn’t to create experts in insurance but to make staff aware of the basics of transit insurance, contract conditions, claims management and limits of liability, to enable them to advise their customers correctly. We’ve worked with trade associations such as FIDI and BAR in the UK on their training programmes, but to be able to provide an online course that could be accessed by movers at any time and deliver all that knowledge, was just too good to turn down.”

Malcolm continued, “What IAM Learning has done is to produce an animated course, which is much better than reading dry text, and I just hope movers will find it of use.  If people do find it useful, we may be able to do something similar at a more advanced level in the future.”

Steve JordanOn-demand webinar helps movers get in the press for free

Earlier this year, IAM Learning asked The Mover magazine to provide the content and voice over for an on-demand webinar aimed at encouraging movers to write and submit their stories to the press.  Editor Steve Jordan was happy to oblige and during the IAM Learning seminar took to the stage to explain why he wanted to get involved.

“I believe that almost without exception you are all missing a trick,” said Steve. “You spend a lot of money and time travelling around the world to events like this and on advertising throughout the year, and yet you don’t take advantage of free opportunities to promote your businesses in the press, either because you don’t know how to do it, or you don’t know you can.”

Steve said that at The Mover people often ask how much it costs to have a story published in the magazine. “The answer is it’s free, if we think it will be of interest to the readers.”

He continued, “The IAM Learning webinar is short, only about six-minutes long, but it explains just about everything you need to know about how to write a story and get it published in the press and I urge you to take a look,” said Steve. “It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect, if the story is of interest most editors will invest a little time to put it right. Don’t forget to include a good picture; sometimes even a mediocre story will make it into print if the picture is good enough: magazines and newspapers without pictures aren’t very interesting!”

“It could be that you don’t think anything in your company is worthy of a story, but I promise you you’re wrong.  It could be about a new member of staff, a new service you’ve introduced, a new warehouse you’ve opened, a truck you’ve added to the fleet, or a charity run the staff have taken part in, the list is endless,” said Steve.  “But the story I really want is the one that’s easiest for you to write - it’s your opinion about something that’s happening in the industry. Tonight, in the bar, hundreds of people will be sounding off about something they have an opinion about, so don’t just tell them, tell me and I’ll tell the world.”

Steve contrasted the mainstream press with the ever-increasing use of social media. “Social media is a powerful marketing tool and has an important role to play in business communications, but it is totally unregulated and therefore is often abused. Do you really want your story to appear next to fake news written by someone with an agenda?” said Steve. “Magazine editors have a duty of care to make sure, as far as possible, that the material they publish is true and balanced and if they get it wrong, they are accountable.  My picture, phone number and even my home address are published in The Mover, so everyone knows where to find me. I believe this is important and gives the stories we publish far more credibility than a post on social media.”

Steve ended by setting the audience a challenge.  “What I want you to do is send me a press release, just one, during the next twelve months between now and the IAM Conference in San Diego.  “If you do, and you follow the steps on the webinar, I can almost guarantee your story will appear in The Mover magazine - and it won’t cost you a penny!”

Photos: Ray daSilva, Malcolm Pearson, Steve Jordan

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