I haven’t been writing as much lately, for a number of reasons; sold our condo, doing a major house Reno, got a new pup, recorded a full length CD and busier than crap at work. Anyway, I thought I should send one more out for 2012.
It was a good year for us and the industry too. Caution is still King but not as many complaints around…everyone has made the adjustments needed to cope with what seems to be “the new economy”.
The driver crisis hasn’t brought the industry to a standstill yet and somehow the folks at the helm of the various trucking operations will find their way through it. It’s a tough business but one that I have enjoyed supporting, in my small way, for what seems like a lifetime… 2013 is our 25th year!
There was a record turnout at the recent Toronto Transportation Club dinner and Don Cherry was certainly a factor in the increased attendance. Sports and transportation have always seemed to go hand in hand…a guy thing I guess. Still, more and more ladies are making their mark on the industry and they were well represented at the event.
We added a person in Montreal and it appears to be a tough market to crack for an English company, even though our guy there is French. I’ve spoken with some English carrier customers and they have found it equally difficult. We’re still working on that one. The reverse scenario appears to be true for our Quebec customers breaking ground in Ontario. If anyone has some tips on that one, they would gratefully be received by all.
We added an account manager in Toronto too, which has been a great help. We had continued to run a bit too lean coming out of the recession. We’ve seen many of our carrier customers start to add bodies as well…a good sign I hope.
We’re adding a young gal in the New Year to help with social media. As mentioned when I spoke at the recent Transportation Summit, Canadian transportation has some catching up to do in this area and we are gearing up to help further with this in 2013.
When I looked over our account list for 2012, I saw many loyal customers that have been with us for decades and something new…a high number of good size accounts that came as a result of our web marketing. The web in 2012 was good news for smaller companies. A shift is occurring, with more and more buyers sourcing on the web. Resource to resource, a 1 million dollar company can get as many opportunities from web marketing as a 200 million dollar company… if they are willing and able to create the same amount of content and use proper search engine optimization.
I’m still amazed when people today, running great companies, don’t put much stock in the power of the web to build their business, help with recruiting, or simply make a favourable impression on customers, suppliers and their carrier partner network. More than ever, it’s not “a” or “b” when it comes to choosing the best way to market, it’s “a, b, c, & d”. That will be our core message for the upcoming year. Add to your relationships and referral business, with the new techniques available…add to, not replace!
Best of the holidays to everyone and we’ll see you in the New Year.
Lee’s quote for the day
This year has had its share of change. 2011 started off with a significant shuffle in leadership, across many major carriers and was followed by some significant acquisitions by small and large carriers alike.
Our long time accounts Hi-Way 9 Express, Concord and more recently Quik X, all changed ownership. Fortunately our relationship with those carriers didn’t end and we actually made further inroads with sister divisions. Some senior people who left those companies turned to us when they joined new firms or created their own companies. The wheels keep turning…
So what’s the point? Although the industry is shy when it comes to engaging in social media trends, most professionals in the industry use LinkedIn. It’s a great resource to help keep you up to date with the changes that will likely continue to be a common occurrence in the industry. We are about to experiment with some advertising opportunities using this social network. It’s amazing how targeted a campaign you can launch in this and other social media venues.
We are currently managing the social media for a few clients. It’s an opportunity that didn’t exist a few years ago and will probably be one of the things that help us through this now tighter economic climate. On the transportation side, offering a brokerage service to capitalize on the convenience sell with existing customers is probably the most common opportunity that carriers are looking to for increasing their revenues quickly and profitably.
We can count on further consolidation but we should all keep our antennas up for new opportunities. They do exist. We just have to look to the future and ask the question “I’d like to see this happen. What did I have to do to get there?” Then keep going backwards until you come up with your first step and you will have all the steps in between. It’s a simple process that adds clarity when you can’t seem to get there from here.
Lee’s Quote for the Day
I’ve heard the odd person allude to a possible double dip in the economy but for the most part (as mentioned before) it looks like the worst is behind us. In discussions with our carrier customers, most have followed a cost cutting protocol, regardless of the size, scope and nature of their business. Still, if we look at Ontario vs. Western Canada, it appears carriers can raise rates in the west, while the shippers still carry the big stick here. Available capacity seems to be the predominant trump card.
You’ve probably all heard something along the lines of “Quality, service and price…pick two”. In this new, post-recession economy, smart operators are forced to follow that guideline. Where shippers are under pressure to maintain or lower their transportation spend, carriers have had to modify their thinking accordingly. Where a partial load west used to move Friday for a Monday delivery, now it might wait to get topped up Monday for a Thursday delivery. This brings us to another saying “Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission”.
Even though driver demand here has never been higher, the carriers can’t increase their wages. This will discourage new drivers to enter the industry and as the aging driving force retires, this lack of drivers to move the freight will either push more freight to rail or decrease capacity (as it has in the west) and then maybe rates can rise… and the cycle continues. Interesting how supply and demand eventually gets things sorted out. Hopefully it will again and everyone can breathe a little easier.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since the recession? My top 5 follows and you can probably add the statement “like never before” to each one:
Lee’s Quote for the day
“By the time everything all comes together, it’s time to retire!”