Teeter Auto Transport
An Interview with Jerry Teeter, President of Teeter Auto Transport
By Eric Sauvage and Chad Singleton, Creighton University MBA students
Teeter Auto Transport, Inc. received the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Integrity Award. These awards focus on demonstrated ethical business practices with key stakeholders including customers, employees and community at large, rather than a company’s growth, profitability or popularity.
Teeter Auto Transport, Inc. is an automobile transporter specializing in shipping vehicles that consumers buy through the internet on sites such as eBay, Autabuy, and Classy Auto. They also ship cars for dealers, banks, corporate relocations, professional athletes, and business’s relocating equipment. Their coverage is anywhere in the United States, Canada, and most international ports. For more information, visit www.omahatransport.com.
We interviewed Jerry Teeter to find out what makes Teeter Auto Transport deserving of the respected and coveted Integrity Award.
Where were you raised, where were you educated, and what is your career background?
I was born in Western Colorado and grew up in Kansas. I attended Grace University located in Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. I have always had an interest in cars and had much job experience working in car dealerships in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. I have been the owner of Teeter Auto Transport since it began six years ago in 2002.
What do you like most about your work? Least?
What I like best about my career is working with different people, making sales, and building strong relationships with the customers. It is not so much the location of my business but the people who work for you. My least favorite part of my work is dealing with dishonest employees or those who put sales before the customers. Because I want to build relationships with my customers, my approach is being honest and not covering anything up.
Describe an ethical situation in business you have faced that was relatively easy to handle.
People are always having problems with their cars so it is important to always be in touch with them. It is best if they do call the company about any problems that they talk to an employee and not have it go straight to the voicemail. Ethical problems that the company has faced that have been fairly easy to handle are when customers have problems with their cars especially if the car broke down in the middle of nowhere. In those cases, the company would double their communication with that customer and make sure that everything goes smoothly.
Describe an ethical situation in business you have faced that was hard to handle.
It is hard in the car industry because it seems that car salesmen and saleswomen are viewed as people who look at their customers as dollar signs. There was one situation where the Teeter Auto Transport was going to get involved with a larger company. The problem was that the company had different views on how to approach a customer. Also, the smaller company they got involved with before had all these problems, and the larger company just left them behind. It was a giant mess for us at the time.
How does it feel talking with us about ethical quandaries you faced?
Talking about ethical issues is normal and is encouraged when talking to customers. When making a sale, it is encouraged to speak from the heart and thinking about just the sale. It is important to discuss to new employees about how to talk to customers and what to stay away from.
What are the unspoken ethical rules in your organization? How do you infuse ethics in your organization?
When newcomers are hired on staff, they listen in on calls, are taught how to talk to customers, how to sell by being honest and straightforward as possible, and the mechanics on how things work. A good salesperson believes in what he or she is selling and is not reading from a script. It is also about building relationships with the customers. The Teeter Auto Transport has been told by customers that the company explains how everything works and makes the person not feel that they are in a hurry.
Another thing is how pricing is done in the company. It is best not to give someone a price until after they have talked to the person. It does not necessarily mean lower the price but giving the customer the best value for their money. That is why it is important to hire employees who able to read people and know what they want to hear.
Have you had a mentor? If so, who and why?
During high school, I worked in a hardware store that was called Coast to Coast Hardware. The owner of the store was not only close to his employees but made customer service a top priority. I saw how he treated people and did not take advantage of them. I knew that is how he wanted to run his business and putting people before the company.
Do you see any connections between how you were raised and how you handle ethical situations at work?
I have been raised to treat other people how I would want to be treated and live my life by the Golden Rule. It is also because of my faith and religion. Being a Christian, a family man, and a devoted owner to my business are what I look to on how I run my company.
Leaving a legacy: What are the biggest ethical challenges that you think face the younger business professionals today? Any tips for dealing with them?
I feel that the biggest ethical challenge in the world of business today is that it seems more companies are all about making sales and not about caring for the customers. My tips is to build strong relationships with customers and not see them as a dollar sign. I want to be known as a man of honesty and integrity and not someone who just made a bunch of sales.