Traveling across the country and having an opportunity network and meet great individuals along the way. This is what Sean Ellison says is the best part of his job as Vice President of Operations at Milestone Trailer Leasing.
For two weeks of every month, Ellison visits Milestone’s various branches in the company’s national network – consisting of 25+ locations in the US, spanning from the Eastern Seaboard to the West Coast. A member of the Milestone leadership team since 2008, Ellison shares about his typical day, his proudest accomplishments, and what elevates good customer service to the “great.”
Tell us about your responsibilities as Vice President of Operations at Milestone Trailer Leasing. What does your typical day look like?
A typical day consists of managing our branch network. I oversee/assist with the buying and selling of equipment, coordinating deal fulfillment, and satisfying customer needs across our national network. I also manage the day-to-day personnel of operations out in the field. The great thing is that no day is the same.
When does your day start and when does it end?
My day starts the moment the alarm clock buzzes and goes until I sleep. Customers in the transportation industry have needs that are 24 hours a day. Assistance is needed around the clock. Our operations people are fielding requests at all hours of the day and our team is always there to help them when in a bind.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of assisting and developing our branch network. We started out really small and now we’re capable of serving transportation needs of all sizes all over the country. I’m also very proud of the culture that we’ve established, and the personnel that we’ve built. Our customers will get same service in York, Pennsylvania as they would in Los Angeles. I’m proud of that cohesiveness.
What are your thoughts about leadership? What’s key in building good teams?
It happens with extensive amounts of one-on-one time. When we’re onboarding our employees, we spend a lot of time with them at our branches. We go over best practices and best ways in interacting with our customers. That kind of training takes a lot of time and energy. We are intentional about educating them on the way that we develop services and a lot of that comes from other employees who have been in this industry for a long time.
What is the key to customer service? What separates the good from the great?
The “great” is empowering individuals at branches to make the best decision for their customer quickly and effectively. And giving them the tools to do that. Not having to tell customer, “I’ll have to get back to you with an answer,” and instead allowing our employees to have the flexibility to provide on-the-spot answers and having the confidence to do that.
What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?
The trend toward e-commerce and just-in-time deliveries. The need for everyone to have everything done yesterday. This all leads to the challenge of tying together the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time. But there’s a whole other piece to it – the logistics piece, the moving of product, getting trailers and fixing trailers. There’s the physical part, the “moving of iron,” and melding it with the technology part, that’s the challenge. It come down to meeting and balancing expectations.
How is Milestone addressing those challenges?
The best way to do it is by developing the best network – An excellent group of repair and delivery vendors and employees. Both in the field and at our head office. I’m confident that we have that in every network and that we set realistic expectations with our customers. I’m confident of the vendors that we’ve chosen to partner with. Our repair vendors provide the backbone to our capabilities.
What sets Milestone apart from the competition?
Having a vast network of experienced and knowledgeable transportation professionals who are empowered to make quick decisions benefits Milestone customers. It really comes down to the educated people in the field who can take our vision and our customers’ requests and put them into action.
What do you like best about your job?
I like the fact that technically it’s a big industry, but the country gets smaller and smaller with technology. Being able to network with people around the country is something I love. I get to travel around the country and meet with people. My favorite part is being well traveled and connecting with fantastic people along the way.
What is a great story about Milestone Trailer Leasing that you love to share?
I always enjoy sharing Milestone’s history. The original founders and how they came together from across the country to create the basis of what we work with today. When knowing how we got here, it makes working towards those same goals, on a much larger scale, much more enjoyable.