The University of Akron - Bachelor of Science, Sales Management
Bachelor of Science, Marketing Management
When Rachel Loughry first interviewed with Unishippers as a soon-to-graduate college student she didn’t even know whom she was talking to. All she really knew was that she was doing a really, really good job answering every question the recruiter fired at her. That first experience with what Rachel soon learned was Unishippers, a logistics company that provides full shipping solutions for businesses large and small, managed to be a pretty good indication of a whole lot of self-produced success down the road; in only three years she was one of the company’s top 10 sales representatives.
With ambition often comes the pursuit of more and, while that led Rachel away from Unishippers for a time, it also brought the transition from sales professional to franchise owner. “I started to realize that I had something in my blood that made me a natural fit within a logistics company,” asserts Rachel. We think being the top spot of more than 250 franchises is a pretty good indication that Rachel is right.
Don’t settle for average when there is another option out there.
How did you discover your current job and passion in the logistics industry?
I was getting ready to graduate college and like many other undergrads, I felt like a fish out of water that was trying to figure out my next move in the game called “life.” I was in the middle of interviewing with an insurance company when a recruiter from Unishippers contacted me. I can still remember the day when I took that initial call. The recruiter had asked me a series of questions to determine if I would fit the role or not, but would not tell me the company name. After every question, the recruiter moved along by saying that I was matching up to be a perfect fit for the position. After the hour-long conversation, they invited me to the next round of interviews and to dig a little deeper.
Fast-forwarding the process, they invited to me to meet with the hiring manager in Columbus, Ohio, for a face-to-face interview. Unlike the insurance industry, this position had me intrigued. I was hooked from the moment they told me “unlimited compensation potential” with a car allowance; expense account and company trips! I aced my interview and was offered the job.
During my first three years working with Unishippers, I doubled my compensation each year and reached the income goals that I initially set. Along with my financial success, I bought my first new car; made two platinum company trips and finished in the top six in the country. During that time, I watched a lot of people come and go within my franchise, but I always managed to keep working hard and was finding success. If I learned anything from the turnover, it was to never give up and to always end the day on a positive note. Even at 5 p.m. on a Friday, you would find me knocking on one last door.
My work ethic was simple: work hard and play harder. After six years of working for my franchise, I started to have the “grass is greener” syndrome. I had never experienced anything outside of the logistics industry and felt like my opportunities were limited with my current situation. I was ready for more responsibility and had a strong desire to learn and teach others what I had developed through my personal experience.
My curiosity led me to a local company headquartered in my hometown within the payroll, HR and tax industry. Immediately after starting with the corporate company, I started to miss my old routine and the flexibility of being independent and not having “big brother” of company management watching every move I made. I took a decrease in pay and no matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t seem to be as successful as I wanted to be at my new job. I was working harder, longer hours and wasn’t making as much money. I started to realize that I had something in my blood that made me a natural fit within the logistics company. I couldn’t help to think that I was missing my calling and taking that step away from logistics made me a better sales executive. I renewed my dedication to logistics, which gave me a clear path for what I wanted to do next with my next career.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
It doesn’t feel like work to me because selling logistics comes naturally. More importantly, I believe in “The Unishippers Way.” Rather then “selling” a client, I feel that I am presenting them with a solution that is saving them time, trouble and money, while providing them with personalized service.
I love working with small business owners on a day-to-day basis and learning about their businesses. It always amazes me how people got started within their company and how many different types of industries I work with and how they make money! I also have the opportunity to partner with my husband who supports me all the way. He will continue to work at his corporate job for a steady paycheck and health insurance until the franchise is self-sustainable and we are ready to start hiring more sales reps. He is an amazing business manager and I have the pleasure of taking his advice on many things that have led the company in the right direction from day one. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us!
What are some leadership lessons you have learned?
My first boss when I worked with Unishippers as a sales rep taught me a lot about leadership. He was always professional and always dressed the part. He always made himself available to ask for help or to come along with me on appointments that I needed help closing. Every time we went on an appointment together, I walked away learning so much about body language; ways to handle common objections; and the importance of leaving with a “next step” in place. I plan on following in his footsteps with my employees. Another thing that I always liked was the way he showed us recognition for our good work. That appreciation goes a long way in a mind of a sales person. His encouragement kept me going when times got tough.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Like any sales job, quotas are always a little stressful. Now, as a franchise owner, I have to think about the financial health of the franchise. I’m always a little concerned when a client is over payment terms or if a guaranteed shipment isn’t on track to be delivered as promised. When you’re at the mercy of your carrier partners and a non-asset based company, you have to know how to handle situations when shipments go wrong. You have to take ownership of a situation that might be out of your control. My main goal is to build long-term business relationships that help me manage situations and earn customer’s trust time and time again.
The conversation of work/life balance versus work/life integration is definitely a hot topic at the moment. What is your take, and how have you managed to have a successful career and personal life?
It is the most ideal situation that I could have created for myself and by far the best part of owning my own business. I have two kids under the age of three and have the pleasure of working from a home-office. I have a nanny who comes three days a week, and I am home with my kids two of the five days. Since I am able to outsource my customer service, it provides me with the flexibility of being able to work outside of my office and to have a perfect work-life balance. I am 100% happy with my situation!
What one piece of advice would you offer working mothers?
If you are able to negotiate with your current employer, ask to have flextime where you are able to either work a little longer one day to have extra time at home on another day. My favorite part of the day are the mornings when I get to spend time with my children eating breakfast and watching cartoons while drinking my morning coffee. It’s the little things in life that will help you be happier when you are away at work. If you can find a way to either go in a little later or leave a little earlier, you can beat the rush-hour traffic and spend that time enjoying it with your kids. If your employer doesn’t want to work with you, it’s time to look for someone who will!
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
Yes! Just recently, I planned my work vacation to visit my territory in Gainesville, Florida and decided to make a family vacation out of it. We spent almost a week in sunny Florida after a long Ohio winter! I was driving to my appointment and looking around at the beautiful sunrise over the ocean. I had just obtained the No. 1 spot over 250 franchises and couldn’t be happier with my work/life balance and my income potential and current status. I don’t know if I would have appreciated it as much had I not left for three years to work for in a more corporate environment. I’m pleased with my career choice and can say with confidence that life is good!
What are some of the rules you live by?
Work hard, play hard! Never end your day or your week on a bad note. Always take time to reach out to your current customers and handwrite thank you cards. Surround yourself with positivity and people who support you and your decisions and finally, make time to celebrate success.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge women face in the workplace?
Work/life balance. Women have a hard time trying to do everything well. When women are stretched too thin, they spend the least amount of time on themselves. It’s important to make time for yourself, whether it’s working out, yoga, a spa day or even a day with the family.
What made you feel like you’d be successful at Unishippers?
There are a lot of aspects of this career that seem too good to be true, and it took me leaving the industry for a time to realize that. This career affords the perfect work/life balance and rewards you if you are willing to work hard and want to succeed. It does take some practice and on-the-job learning, but with Unishippers, I get to provide others with money-saving solutions to shipping. The satisfaction of our customers is enough to convince me that what we’re doing is really making a difference. Don’t settle for average when there is another option out there for you that provides happiness and success. I’m proud to say that I work for Unishippers – the shipping company that works for YOU!
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 20-something version of yourself?
I would tell the younger me to learn from other people’s mistakes instead of learning the hard way on my own. Another piece of advice to my younger self would be to save the silly amount of money that I spent on frivolous things like clothing, shoes and dining out. I am fortunate that I had a good example growing up. My family taught me to have a strong work ethic and to save money. They never had credit card debt and would save money to purchase the things that were important to them. It has taught me a lot now that I’m in my 30s with kids of my own and can finally see the big picture.