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
Sometimes you learn lessons late in life and that certainly applies to my understanding of the sales person’s role. I bought out my partner over 3 years ago. He did a great job looking after our existing accounts but he and I didn’t see eye to eye on our need to add new clients. It was the old farmer/hunter sales scenario and it’s a discussion I still hear tossed about frequently throughout the industry.
Buying out my partner, the recession and hiring a younger “high-polish” sales person all came at the same time. Like many who entered into a position of top line responsibility during the recent recession, it was a tough time to start a new venture.
It was interesting how people reacted to a change in the guard. Most of our existing customers preferred my old partner calling on them and found the new guy a bit too slick. But, he was a hunter and the new opportunities he created with like individuals were a good match… they thought highly of him. We gave it a year, he got an opportunity back in the finance world he came from and we called it a day. I recouped maybe 25% of what I spent on the exercise but I also learned much from the experience. The number one thing…the role confidence plays in the sales process.
Times were tough, we put more weight on our online marketing and it worked, so we passed that on to our smaller clients. Many of our big clients disappeared during the recession, they had to stop the bleeding and they chose to cut advertising.
We saw immediate results from the more enhanced web efforts and entered into social media a bit, including blogging. Our sales approach was more technical in nature and we took a team of 3 individuals with diverse skill sets and backgrounds and that got the job done…or so we thought.
We opened up Montreal earlier this year and have a very capable representative calling on the industry. We followed up with another account manager in Toronto this summer. Why you might add?
The web gives us as many new sales opportunities as we can handle but I found that we were running too lean to properly stay in touch with the clients we had. We would do our best on each client’s project but then we would lose touch if there were no pending additional needs. Recently, we discovered that we missed additional opportunities as a result of our “sales silence”. This isn’t just bad for us, it’s bad for our clients as the continuity of their marketing can get off track in a hurry.
The lesson learned once again… it’s not A or B, it’s A and B. You need to farm and hunt for a balanced sales diet and there is equal value to both.
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!”