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!”
Although nobody is jumping up and down with joy, we find the general mood in the transportation sector to be positive as we shuffle into 2011. There have been a few acquisitions, quite a bit of shuffling at the senior management level and the driver shortage topic has come to the forefront once again.
Does anybody know where this economy is going? Not really. But one thing is for sure… in the next few years marketing is going to play a bigger role in growing your business then ever before. We’ve seen it happen for us and our clients in the last half of 2010. Business opportunities are increasing through well developed websites that incorporate the latest SEO techniques. By developing a message that really cuts to the chase about who you are and what you do, more potential customers are finding you…instead of you having to pound the pavement to find them.
Today, you can accurately measure the results of your marketing through increased rankings on search engines. By benchmarking your current web activity through implementation of Google Analytics you can receive easy to understand reports that measure your progress and increased exposure through the web.
I would encourage you to look at what’s happening in the marketplace. Is the image presented by your competition making you look “old school” by comparison. Are you communicating a message that rings true with who you are today? Are your service strengths clear and pronounced?
For less than the price of a single trailer, you can create the foundation of a comprehensive marketing program. Whoever your vendor is in this area, set up a meeting and get the ball rolling. It takes 3-6 months to start seeing a return on this kind of investment. The sooner you sew the sooner you’ll reap!
Lee’s quote for the day
“At some point running an older truck down the road gets more expensive then buying a new one. The same thing goes with your marketing. At some point, not investing in proper marketing will cost you more than the marketing expense you’re trying to avoid.”
Working in marketing has allowed me an opportunity to meet many successful business leaders. Our process of discovery before rolling out a marketing program has given me an even greater opportunity to have in depth discussions with these visionary entrepreneurs.
Your chance for greatness can be realized if you adopt their common entrepreneurial traits. They’re excited about what they do, they know their business inside out and they are without exception… workaholics. Life balance may have escaped them but business needs leaders and the ones I’ve met seem comfortable with their calling. Maybe like sharks that need to keep swimming to stay alive, true entrepreneurs need to keep building their business for the same reason.
Assuming the best and being prepared for the worst are characteristics that put these individuals on a pedestal far above us common folk. I used to be in awe of their bigger than life personas. Over time, that awe has transformed to respect and the realization that the people running 2 million, 20 million or 200 million dollar companies have many similar characteristics.
Off comes the cloak of mystery. The truth is these entrepreneurs have learned and applied these simple lessons and you can take these 5 undisputable facts to the bank too:
Lee’s Quote for the day
“If you find something you love, that there is a market for, become really good at it, hang in there long enough, and add a little WYAO… success will be yours.”