As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lior Rachmany.
Primarily a musician in the early stages of his life, Israel native Lior Rachmany moved to New York in 1998 to follow the Dumbo, Brooklyn music scene, where he worked a part-time job at a moving company to make ends meet. A few years later, he founded what is now NYC’s largest moving company, Dumbo Moving & Storage.
The name Dumbo stands as a beacon for the first landmark coming into Brooklyn, and Lior believes Dumbo Moving was an answer for many of the newcomers. Today, the quality and affordability of Dumbo Moving goes beyond the norm, establishing Lior as a trusted professional mover. Individuals moving down the block or across the country seek out Lior’s knowledge of the industry, accompanied by the company’s efficiency, professionalism, and punctuality.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In 1998, I moved from Israel to Brooklyn to pursue a career in music. I decided to pick up a part-time job at a moving company to make ends meet while recording music in my studio in DUMBO. After a few months, I saw an opportunity to channel my creativity from music to my “day job” — starting my own moving company, Dumbo Moving & Storage. Fifteen years later, I grew the company from just one truck to NYC’s largest moving company. We now move NYC residents across the five boroughs or cross-country.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I wanted our company slogan to be “We Like To Move It, Move It,” but everyone told me, I shouldn’t. I used it anyway and we’ve had tremendous success.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’m a firm believer in asking for help to achieve success. Rather than receiving help from one person, I relied heavily on my fantastic group of movers, who realized the company was in the beginning stages and were very resourceful, helpful, and accommodating despite the circumstances. Those movers still work with me today and are a large part of Dumbo Moving’s success.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
From the beginning, the company’s vision was to provide affordable prices with a higher quality of performance. To see this vision from an entry-level mover standpoint, I never took part in the management, sales, or marketing sides at my previous moving company. I immediately knew it was possible to achieve success with the right team.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
Many difficulties arise in any business, but I think the most trying one has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in March, there was so much uncertainty around individuals keeping their jobs and making an income. In our business, we needed to be extra careful we didn’t get sick on a day-to-day basis. Luckily for us, our business skyrocketed with the number of individuals needing to move out of NYC and into the suburbs, and we were able to retain all staff.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve had to set an example that everything is doable in this challenging time, whether it was doubling down on marketing efforts, picking up the phone and giving a sales pitch, loading trucks, or providing excellent customer service. As a CEO, it’s important to set an example to staff that you can achieve anything in order to inspire them to give their all to your company.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
There were many times where I thought giving up would be better than continuing business that day. However, what kept me going was knowing my own potential and realizing if all else failed, I would wake up tomorrow and be able to start a truck as if it was the first day all over again. I had the motivation to grow this business from the ground up, and I didn’t want to start from the beginning just because I got frustrated one day.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
During challenging times, I think it’s essential for leaders to show empathy towards their employees. In recent months, I have prioritized checking in on my employees and asking how they are doing to help empower them. My company would not survive without the employees. It’s my job to ensure my movers understand they are part of the solution, and I need them just as much as they might need me to get through this difficult time.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
A leader needs to give examples of past events where the team prevailed through uncertain times and show how together they overcame those difficulties while emphasizing how the current situation will differ. I always prepare my team for the worst with a plan in mind to overcome it.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
Always be transparent with your employees. When facing a difficult situation that seems unresolvable, remember that we are all human and no one likes being left in the dark. By keeping your team members in the loop, the outcome won’t be as bad as expected, and sometimes, depending on the situation, the outcome can be worthy of a thumbs up.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
Reaching your goals takes determination. Believe in yourself to achieve those goals and create a plan that prepares you for bumps in the road. Preparing for the worst is an essential factor in achieving success when the future is so unpredictable. There is no doubt leaders will run into extremely tough challenges, questioning if the journey is worth it. Still, with a plan in place, these challenges can be overcome much more quickly and lead you to success.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Always push for more. As a leader of a company, you should never feel accomplished with the status quo. You should have the hunger to continue growing, gaining new clients, and offering the best service at unbeatable prices. With this mindset, you will be able to survive turbulent times.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
During difficult times, it’s important to remain calm and not panic. The media can also cause people to panic more than usual, so it’s in your best interest to form your own opinions. And lastly, make sure to look out for red flags and trust your gut.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
The most important is to cut expenses. The workload should be distributed fairly, with higher-paid managers taking on more projects. This strategy has helped to lower prices and provide better service to our customers.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
The most important thing is always to be present. In times like today, it doesn’t necessarily mean physically, but being available and accessible to your employees in case situations arise where they have questions or need guidance. Second, it’s crucial to over-communicate. A large part of being present is over-communicating when giving extra guidance, sending encouraging morning messages, and keeping in touch more often than usual. Third, as previously stated, I truly believe in empathy and understanding everyone is human and handles difficult situations differently. A leader must keep that positive attitude and inspire others. Additionally, always be transparent and honest with your team. Employees understand unprecedented times occur in every business, and it’s best to address the elephant in the room. Finally, always have a game plan.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I strongly relate to “When one door closes, another opens” because I came to New York in hopes of pursuing a career in music and ended up owning NYC’s largest moving company. It’s funny how life works out.
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