Business Beginnings: How I Handled My First Unforeseen Disaster

The biggest unforeseen disaster I faced was when an employee fell from one of our trucks during a big moving job, fracturing his arm.  Workers compensation was issued for the ensuing medical bills, but this was the first time we had to deal with a severe injury and incident report.It began with a big office job where we were using a 26ft heavy duty box truck to handle the volume of desks that were to be loaded.The loading process went smoothly for the most part, we carried very heavy desks out of offices down the elevator, out the front doors and into the truck, without harming any property or the items themselves. But then something happened.The last item loaded in was the top of a conference table which was incredibly bulky, long and heavy. Since we already filled up the truck with other items it had to be placed at the very back of the truck, not a safe spot for such a heavy item.  Ultimately it was placed at an awkward angle and awkward position and slid out of place, knocking the team member loading it off the truck.What went wrong? It was a new unfamiliar situation with the office move compared to our usual residential jobs. It was also one of the larger jobs we had completed, and one of the first times we had a full team of employees doing the work rather than my partner and I just doing the moving ourselves. We failed to prioritize the items going in the truck properly (i.e. heaviest should have gone in first) and our crew was not properly trained for the job. But when a business owner is just getting started, a lot of times they don’t think proactively. A simple question at the beginning of the job to the client would have reconfirmed all the items to be removed and helped us load more effectively.Here are some lessons we learned from this experience:

  1. Be extra cautious when the situation has unfamiliar components. The job we were doing was way bigger and more complicated than any we had done before.
  2. Always train first. We should have trained our crew on how to load the truck properly before loading the truck. This would have made the crew more efficient and safer way to  handle the workload, and we might have also avoided the on-site injury.
  3. Be pro-active. Injuries happen but they can also be prevented. This includes everything from ensuring the team has the right tools and safety equipment and having the guys working in tandem to safely complete all activities. More importantly this means implementing the training procedures and coaching (both in the locker room and on the field) necessary to perform job duties correctly when hiring your first employees.
  4. Always confirm the details. Sometimes items can be overlooked but sometimes items can be "thrown in" by the client last minute. This is why we confirm and re-confirm all the details associated with the job by the client, especially with large commercial jobs.

In business there are many challenges and a lot of them are truly unforeseen. However, you can always be more prepared and resilient when such incidents arise. Pay close attention to your operation and ask people on the ground level what they see, need and want.  Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Nick Friedman is President and Co-Founder of COLLEGE HUNKS HAULING JUNK, the largest and fastest growing US-Based junk removal franchise opportunity. He was recently named one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in America Under 30 by INC Magazine and is an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalist.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs.  The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.

About Nick Friedman

Nick Friedman is President and Co-Founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk & College Hunks Moving, the largest and fastest growing US-based junk removal and moving franchise opportunity. He started the business in college with his best friend in a beat up cargo van, and now has at least 50 franchise locations nationwide.

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