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Cuppa Joe: U-Haul Chairman Joe Shoen Makes His Cell Phone Public

Cuppa Joe: U-Haul Chairman Joe Shoen Makes His Cell Phone Public


Well first off, Joe, thank you so much for
taking your time out of your day to be here with us. I know you’re a busy man. On the
topic of you being busy, 5 years ago you shocked everyone by making your cell phone number
public and that’s because you said you wanted to deal with your customers directly and you
wanted to handle your problems personally. U-Haul’s come a long way since then. Do you
feel like maybe now you’d want to change your number? Do you still stand by that decision?
You must be getting calls all day. I get calls, not all day, but I get them all through the
week, and not at a time of my choosing. So even if they’re not a huge volume, they’re
very disruptive. It’s funny you ask that because I have a ten year old boy and he asked me
about that this weekend. He said, “Aren’t you the boss? Can’t you just not have to answer
the those calls?” That’s a fair question. Of course what I told him was, “Because I’m
the boss, I must answer these calls. These people are trying to tell me what I need to
do to earn their business.” And that’s the truth so I have no desire to turn it off at
all. Certainly it’s disruptive. There’s times like right now my phone is on mute so it won’t
ring, so I won’t get interrupted during this here, but for instance: I leave it on when
I eat dinner at home. That upsets my family a lot, as you might imagine. I leave it on
most of the time when I’m traveling, so it’ll interrupt whatever conversation I’m in on.
I have it on way more than I have it off. I don’t screen calls except sometimes I won’t
answer a call that comes in unknown. If I’m talking or busy with something and it says
unknown, I’ll probably just click past it. But if it has a number, I’ll answer the call.
Right. That just means that you hold your customers to a high regard. Correct? Well…
no, it’s that I want them to hold me in high regard. You see, if I will be responsive to
them, and they’re going to part with some of their hard-earned money to try to do business
with me. Customers are more curdios than you might imagine. I get a lot of calls, besides
unhappy people. I get people… I had a guy who called me Sunday and he says, “Sorry to
bother you. I know you’re busy.” I say, “Well how can I help you?” He says, well he named
a store and a person, and said, “Well that person deserves a raise.” And I said, ‘Got
it. Put it down and it’ll be taken care of.” He’s telling me we have an outstanding preformer
and I should recognize that. For me to know every outstanding performer is hopeless. But
that’s a way for me to know this. People just want to be treated decently and fairly given
value for their money, and if I’m willing to say, “Sure. I’ll help you get value,” they
go, “Great.” Most people have a problem, they don’t want to complain, they just want it
solved. Does that make sense? Yes it does. They’re not angry; they need help. And if
I say, “Sure, I’ll help ya.” they go, “Good. Thank you.” That’s what I’m there for.

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