Well, I for one thought I had heard it all. From “dolly converters” to “body jobs”, where we specialize in the industry, we have a pretty good vocabulary as it relates to the world of trucking. I came across a new one the other day though, “Non-asset freight pimp”.
Let’s face it; freight brokers still have a bad rap. Maybe it’s jealousy because the broker doesn’t have to make the heavy investment into their business that carriers do. Maybe it’s presumed or documented unethical behaviour. Either way, most freight brokers don’t want to be called freight brokers and many carriers would like to see them wiped off the face of the planet. Why? They have been successful in capturing freight that used to belong directly to carriers at a higher rate. Brokers can provide a lower rate and they are a contributing factor to the erosion of freight rates for the carriers.
We did a website for a small broker a couple of years back. He was happy with the results and referred us to one of his flatbed carriers in the region. When we met with that well established carrier, he was extremely frustrated. “How is it I keep losing out to a freight broker? He gets the freight and then I move it. I don’t understand.” I didn’t understand either, so I spoke to the broker in question. My assessment, after a brief discussion, was that the broker in this case, was a more confident sales person and he offered the customer a choice between several carriers, at several price points. Customers like choice.
It’s a funny world. There are many carriers that fill their trucks with broker freight. Brokers are their sales force and these carriers have very few relationships with customers directly. There are carriers that successfully outsource key lane segments to other carriers, like the corridor between Windsor and Quebec City or Ontario to Atlantic Canada, without a hitch. The message I get from that, is the shipper is mostly concerned about getting the job done, not how it gets done.
Lee’s quote for the day
“In the music business, there is a saying that the side men all want to be front men and the front men all want to go home. In the trucking business, it seems most carriers want to play in the “freight pimp” world and most “freight pimps” have the dream of building up key lanes so they can put on their own equipment. Whoever orders their new Cadillac first, is the winner!”
This summer, Tim Horton’s introduced a new procedure where the person taking your order got a little more personal, “Hello my name is Debbie” were the words you heard as you drove up to the area where you initiated your first cup of java for the day. I waited for the new procedure to fall off but after several months the location I frequent has kept up the pace of being as warm and comforting as the products they serve.
Shift to small town New Brunswick. I had to visit recently on a family matter and stopped by the busy little Tim’s that has graced the community of less than 1000 for about 10 years now. Even the old boys that used to hang out at the barber shop and local gas station have migrated up the hill to their new spot and are quite comfortable calling Tim’s home.
For the most part, East Coasters have a reputation for being pretty friendly but when I took a spin through to get my morning coffee I didn’t hear the “Hello my name is…” greeting. Inquisitive person that I am, I mentioned my story to the lady serving me at the window. Her response was something like “Yes, we got some CD down from Ontario but I can’t see us doing that.” She proceeded to get my order and left me with these final and sincere words,”You have a good day now honey pie!”Friendly enough wouldn’t you say?
For all of us that have tried to initiate new processes and procedures is there a lesson to be learned? I think so. We tend to create all encompassing policies because we are either afraid to or are not able to single out individuals causing us grief in some way. Do most hourly employees punch time cards because at some point everyone was fudging their hours or because a few were? Are trucking companies religious about measuring on time performance because they were always late or because they messed up less than 5% of the time? Has anyone created a long list of rules and regulations for everyone because a small percentage of people are doing the equivalent of “peeing in the pool”…and does that sign on the wall actually stop those individuals from doing so in the future?”
I remember a blackout happening in Fredericton, NB where I went to university. At first it was “yahoo” with speeding cars everywhere but within a few hours there was self managed order without a street light or policeman in sight. In “Good to Great”, the author promotes self managed order as the key to business sustainability. It’s a leap of faith that requires a huge amount of trust. For the time being it seems the rotten apple continues to set the environment for the basket.
Lee’s quote for the day
“For the most part, the only thing tougher than initiating change is being on the receiving end of it.”
Last week we had an important appointment at our office and took the afternoon to do a long overdo clean-up and used that same opportunity to reorganize the office to make better use of our space. As I looked on, I must admit I felt a great deal of pride in seeing everyone working together towards a common goal. In this case the goal was simple and achievable. No one doubted the outcome. Everybody contributed and felt part of the change.
How do we (meaning everyone managing a department or business) translate that type of co-operative spirit into meeting the daily change and challenge we face in our day to day business? My thoughts follow and hopefully some of you will share yours as well.
Don’t compromise on talent. There just isn’t room for weak links or rotten apples. The recession gave this weeding out process a kick start and we all need to be careful as we add new members back to our team.
A common goal. This is a big one. Even at the highest levels of management we see a disconnect and lack of clarity when it comes to long term objectives and vision. This is multiplied by 10 as it goes down through the ranks.
Share the victories. It is never what “I” did; it is what “we” accomplished. Remember to check “ego” at the door and genuinely share the glory.
Switch from fire fighters to wedding planners. There is bound to be some fire fighting with business but if it’s all you’re doing there are some fundamental processes that need addressing. It’s a much better feeling planning your day vs. chasing your tail…less stressful and much more productive.
Rewards. Money is great and appreciated but kind words have power too.
Lee’s quote for the day
“What’s better than feeling like a valued part of a winning team? Absolutely nothing!”