We have worked extremely hard to build a reputation of being an honest and transparent auto transport company. The fact that we’ve been in business for 20+ years and have many glowing reviews online demonstrates we have achieved that goal. However, as hard as we try to please every customer we work with, sometimes we fall short.
The other day we got a negative review on our BBB profile page. We hate getting negative reviews. We work extremely hard for our customers, and we truly aim to please all of them, so when we fall short it really gnaws at us. We literally have team meetings to discuss them so we can learn from them and find opportunities to improve.
In this particular review, the customer accused us of “bait and switch.” This was a real punch in the gut because we’re very proud of how we conduct our business. We’re all about being honest and transparent about everything we do so being accused of “bait and switch” really hurt.
We completely understood this customer’s frustration, however. He booked an order for one price and then a few hours later we had to break the bad news to him that the price wasn’t accurate and we needed to adjust it. We hate having to do that but sometimes we have to. After reading this post you’ll understand why.
What we ultimately learned from this review was that we needed to do a better job of explaining how our quoting system and order process works. This blog post is an attempt to do that.
Manual Quotes vs. Automated Quotes
Before I dive into the nuts and bolts as to why orders need to be adjusted occasionally, we need to look back at how we provided car shipping quotes when we launched this website several years ago.
In the beginning, all quotes were done manually. Prospects would call us or email us with the specifics of their transport and then we’d provide a quote. This system worked great until our business started to grow. We needed a more efficient way to get quotes to prospects; enter the automated quoting system.
We invested heavily in building an instant quoting system. We were one of the few auto transport companies that provided instant quotes on their websites. The new system was a game changer for our business.
Automated Quotes Aren’t Perfect
While automated quoting systems are great, they aren’t perfect, especially when it comes to the auto transport industry. There are so many variables that you have to account for when determining the price of an auto transport.
For starters, think of how many towns and cities we have in this country. Because we are a door-to-door transporter, the possible number of routes is infinite. There simply isn’t an easy way to account for every possible pick up and delivery location in the country when trying to build a system that will provide an accurate and instant quote for every possible transport.
Then you have to consider the number of carriers on the roads today. It’s in the thousands. The number of carriers on any given route and the prices they are charging is constantly changing. You might have three carriers running a specific route for a period of time, all with different pricing, and then three months later only one carrier is running that route. And because that carrier doesn’t have any competition on that route, they increase their rates.
We might have our quotes dialed in perfectly on a given route for a while, but then a few months later the quote is no longer accurate because of these changes.
Then throw in the constant change of the price of gas. Since we’re talking trucking here, the price of gas has a huge impact on the price of an auto transport. When gas prices go up, the carriers have to charge more so our quotes need to be adjusted to account for the increase.
Finally, there is the ever changing supply and demand of auto transports. May through August are the busiest months of the year for transports. This high demand results in higher prices. In the winter months the demand goes down so prices tend to come down. We need to make adjustments to our quoting system to account for the changes in supply and demand.
With all these ever-changing variables in play, how easy do you think it is to maintain an automated quoting system that is accurate 100% of the time? It’s not! In fact, it’s impossible.
How We Handle Inaccurate Automated Quotes
When you book an order with us, we charge a 10% deposit payable with a credit or debit card. As soon as an order comes in, one of our dispatchers reviews the route and the price to ensure we can get the transport done promptly (we typically get vehicles picked up within a week of when they are available to be picked up when the price is accurate).
In most cases, our automated quoting system is spot on and no price adjustments are needed. Occasionally when the route involves a remote or difficult location(s), our quoting system gets it wrong and we need to adjust the price. When that happens, we let our customers know immediately – usually within a few hours of when the order is placed (or the next business day if the order is booked after hours or on the weekends).
We believe in letting our customers know upfront if a price adjustment is necessary to get their vehicle moved in a timely fashion. We’re not going to waste your time or our time trying to get a vehicle moved that we know we can’t be do because the price isn’t right.
In this business, it’s all about the price. If the price is too low, the vehicle won’t move anytime soon. Drivers just aren’t interested in hauling a vehicle if there isn’t enough money on the order to make it worth their while.
If you’ve worked with a broker in the past and it took them weeks to get your vehicle moved, the price was likely the reason. It’s not uncommon for brokers to quote ridiculously low prices just to get your business. Then days and weeks go by and your vehicle never moves. Then the broker calls you to tell you they need more money to get the job done. We don’t believe in doing business that way. We believe in telling you upfront what it’s going to take to get your vehicle moved promptly so you can decide how you’d like to proceed.
If a price adjustment is necessary, we give our customers the option to agree to the new price or they can cancel their order and get a FULL REFUND of their 10% deposit. It’s important to note that not all price adjustments require an increase. Sometimes we actually have to lower the price!
Our Automated Quoting System Continues to Evolve (and Improve)
We continue to invest heavily in our instant quoting system to reduce occasional price adjustments. We spend countless hours every week tweaking the system to provide the most accurate instant quoting system available. It gets more and more accurate by the week, but price adjustments are still required from time-to-time.
When they occur, we promise to be honest and transparent by letting our customers know upfront if a price adjustment is needed to complete their transport. If they’re not comfortable with the price adjustment, they will always have the option to cancel with a full refund of their 10% deposit. Until we have a “perfect” instant quoting system, that’s the best we can do.