The economy a year ago was a “sharp pain” for many, and has turned into a “dull ache” for most. According to the media guru’s, it’s going to get much worse before it gets better. There’s said to be a slight “upswing” heading our way, which some feel is already here; followed by a much larger “downturn”. Speculation and forecasting; that’s what’s drilled into our heads by so many media channels. Prepare for THIS and prepare for THAT. This leads to unproductive behaviors and decisions trucking professionals must make every day in their businesses. Bottom line: turn off the TV, work ON your business, not IN your business, and seize a fraction of the opportunities that present themselves in these climates. Work “smarter”, rather than “harder”. Surviving is now cliché. Some have convinced themselves there is nothing they can do to help their business. They’ve already tried to minimize expenses and are so focused on cost; they are missing the big picture; growing and diversifying the business. Many companies are so focused on “cutting the fat”, they don’t realize that these efforts have a negative effect on their overall operating ratio if they neglect the all important element in developing a successful and profitable trucking operation. In fact, many think that because they cut expenses and their gross revenue increased, they are growing (false). Gross revenue can increase while the net profit decreases. Unfortunately, this is only one reason why over 5,300 companies have disappeared from the map, in the last 30 days. You can “float” for only so long. It’s sink or swim. Speed is a critical element in business today. Net profit is the undisputed champion. Get back in the driver’s seat, delegate your current day to day responsibilities and focus on growing the business.
Here are 7 Keys to Gaining Control and Harnessing New Opportunities
- Outsource, delegate and focus ON your business. Forget the rest. Don’t worry about the things you have no control over. You’re already comfortable with all the chaos and noise out there. Get more comfortable, it’s here to stay. Step back and look at your productivity level from a week, day, and hourly level. I bet there’s something there you can identify that will boost YOUR productivity. Delegate unproductive activities to someone in-house, only if you really have a difficult time letting go. Teach yourself to “let it go”. Everything else needs to be outsourced. Everything today CAN be outsourced; including your email. Stop sitting behind the monitor. Shut if off for predetermined periods of time, pull out a pen/pencil and notepad and start “really working” on your business; do you know where you want it to be positioned in the next 12 months, 5 years, 10 years, etc. (specifically)? That “idea” you’ve had for the last 3 years…it’s time to make it happen.
- New Markets and New Marketing. Stop defending the status quo. Diversification has never been easier to tap into. Want to really stand out in the crowd? Up the ante on your marketing efforts (online and offline). It won’t take much because most marketing campaigns have been suspended (the irony is that it’s typically the first expense to be choked out, second only behind Safety and Loss Control). HINT: Do Not Sacrifice any Elements of Your Safety Program (the price paid will be exponentially higher when you have a loss and have to rebuild). Those that continually lower rates will be caught in the cold when rates go up. It’s a natural cycle and devaluation is tough to overcome for any company. Remain steadfast and strong by diversification and niche marketing. Scarcity is a good thing; welcome it. Without it, there’s no need to be innovative.
- Build a fence around your customer with a bridge letting the bad ones back in. Serve the customers you hate. You’ll learn a lot more from them than you will your best customers. It’s like a bad relationship. You’ll put up with it for awhile just to learn what makes the other one “tick”. Now you have something with REAL value. Nurture your existing customers like never before. Touch them often through personal communication (phone and visit). Get to really know them better without being a pest. You have to talk to them more today, to know what changes they are going through, and to be able to adapt quickly. The faster you are, the more dominant you will be to your competitors. Today’s success model is very simple. SPEED + ACTION = RESULTS.
Stay tuned for Part 2