FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla.—Team U-Haul knows customer service. It’s evident in the many positive online reviews stores and dealerships receive on a daily basis. This time, however, the praise is flowing from U-Haul Dealers to one area field manager (AFM) in particular.
While attending college in 2010, Colin Smith, AFM for UHC of South Alabama, started moonlighting as a customer service representative (CSR) for U-Haul Moving and Storage at Lake Ella in Tallahassee, Florida. He then transferred to U-Haul Moving and Storage at Beal Parkway, advancing to the roles of assistant general manager and general manager (GM) before becoming an AFM in 2014.
“I enjoyed speaking with customers and dealing with them directly,” Smith recalled of his time working at U-Haul Stores. “Now, I get to work with dealers who are renting our equipment and taking care of it. I get to help them help our customers. Not only are they learning from me, I’m learning from them.”
Set for Success
This symbiotic mentality is echoed in the praise from several of Smith’s dealers. One relatively new dealer, Adriana Pinard of Cross Bones Enterprises and U-Haul Dealership, expressed her admiration for Smith’s professionalism.
“Colin has been a wonderful AFM,” Pinard asserted. “He made the initial startup of our dealership a breeze and ensured that we had all the tools necessary for our location to be a success.”
Nital Contractor, owner of Commanders Mini Storage and U-Haul Dealership, agreed with Pinard’s assessment of their AFM.
“He doesn’t just do the duties of a manager, but also of a mentor and a friend,” Contractor admired. “Colin helps in whatever is needed, whether it be a glitch in the system or an issue with a piece of rental equipment. He has helped my U-Haul business grow tremendously, and I know it wouldn’t be where it is without him.”
Quick to Respond
A common thread woven through the praise for Smith is due to his attentive dedication to his dealers.
“Whenever we have a question or concern,” Pinard noted, “Colin responds in a timely manner and has even answered or returned our calls on the weekend and after hours. We feel that Colin goes the extra step to ensure that we are taken care of.”
“I am open on weekends and holidays,” Contractor agreed. “Despite it being the weekend, Colin always helps right away with no hesitation.”
Sandra Gilkerson, manager of Bagdad Mini Warehouses and U-Haul Dealership, has worked with several AFMs during her time as a dealer and eagerly praised Smith.
“Whenever I need something, Colin never leaves us hanging,” Gilkerson volunteered. “He goes that extra mile to make sure everyone—his dealers and his dealers’ customers—has the best experience with U-Haul possible.”
Working with Dealers
The best relationships are built on trust and clear communication, which above all, is something that Smith strives to achieve with every dealer in his route. And, dealers like James Wheelus of Old Milltown Storage and U-Haul Dealership admire that about Smith.
“Colin is one of the best AFMs I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Wheelus declared. “He always makes sure our equipment is in good shape, does any necessary repairs and is willing to help us in any way he can. He even reminds me that I’m not nearly as perfect as I think I am in regard to U-Haul.”
For Smith, one aspect of communication is key to a good working relationship with dealers.
“Listen,” Smith asserted. “A large part of an AFM’s job is listening to your dealers, getting to know them and determining what plan of action you should take from that point. In addition to that, it’s important to give them feedback and let them know why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Gilkerson vouched for Smith’s listening skills, attesting that, “Colin is also very quick to address any concerns you may have and goes above and beyond to resolve it in a very timely matter.”
“Colin is keen on customer service,” Wheelus agreed. “He’s a keeper in my book.”
Sharing the Praise
“Colin is amazing and has a lot to offer,” Gilkerson cheered. “I really hope U-Haul knows how lucky they are to have him represent the Company, and that he does it well and very honorably.”
When asked what advice he would give others, Smith humbly steered the conversation to his peers.
“Ask for help,” Smith recommended. “You can’t be afraid to ask for help. Nobody knows everything. I can’t do my job without the help of my fellow AFMs. It’s important to work with your team to make the best decisions for the Company and our customers.”
U-Haul takes pride in team members like Colin Smith, and we have a feeling he’d love to hear from you. Share some love in the comments below, and let Colin know he’s doing a great job!