Too Busy Running Your Business to Build it?

Too Busy Running Your Business to Build it?

At TranStrategy Partners we’ve successfully worked with hundreds of business owners to help them focus their energy, and the energy of their staff, to plan for and grow their business.

Later we often hear clients say, “I wish I’d have done this sooner.”

Why didn’t they?

Most often, they were too busy. Yes, too busy running their business to build it.

Entrepreneurs have their hands full. In the freight brokerage business there is no end to the things a leader could be doing. You have to hire and fire. Deal with problem shipments and carriers. Manage billing, accounts receivable and carrier settlements.

Most leaders barely have time to service existing customers, much less sell new ones.

In the hustle and bustle of a typical day, taking time to consider what you want the business to become takes a back seat. When the action breaks, you want a break too.

We understand. We’re entrepreneurs too.

So how do you find time to plan and grow your business?

First, force yourself to set aside some time-maybe an hour or so. Put it on your calendar, and keep the appointment. Close the door. Turn off your phone. Eliminate all distractions, including thoughts about what else needs to get done or how you should have dealt with the most recent crisis.

Then answer just one question:

When my time here is done, what do I want my business to look like?

With this one step, you’ll learn two things:

1. How to make the time needed to work on your business
2. The desired state of your business-what you want it to be

There’s a lot more to do of course. Seeking some outside assistance comes in handy. Find someone who can take an impartial look at your company, assess its current state, and collaborate with you (and keep you accountable) in planning and implementing a strategy to move you toward that desired state.

Maximizing Marketing Productivity

Maximizing Marketing Productivity

Marketing on a (Time) Budget

Maximize Marketing Productivity without Disrupting Your Business

 

You’re busy. You get 800 emails and calls a day, have a constant tidal wave of paperwork flowing in and out… I get it. You don’t have time to spare to make sure you are driving traffic to your website or to check your emails’ open rates, or for that matter,  even have emails going out to your customers.

The primary deterrent from marketing is a lack of time. My customers consistently share they would like to put more effort into their website, customer emails and content but lack the time. I know what it’s like as a business owner to wear many hats and to place marketing last on the list of priorities. Many people think of marketing as a disruption to your business, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a way to market your business on a time budget. You can market your company without disrupting your business by following some simple suggestions to improve your reach and keep in better contact with your customers.

 

 

SET GOALS, AVOID THESE MISTAKES

First you want to lay a foundation to help you create a plan that will help save you time.

 

Step 1. Prioritize your goals

You HAVE to identify what your business goal is in order to avoid frivolous dollars and time in areas that don’t align with your end goal. For example, I work with some businesses who their goal is to grow their company by a dollar amount or by an increase in customer numbers. They would focus on different platforms and venues in order to reach more prospects than another company who is primarily concerned with customer retention and re-engagement. This step will help you focus on where you should spend your time and money and keep you from going down a road that will waste your time.

Step 2. What’s it worth to you?

Determine the value of each new customer and retaining customers. This helps you quantify how much you would be willing to spend in time or money to achieve your goal. If a new customer is worth $5,000 in revenue annually, spending $10 per new lead doesn’t seem out of proportion. It is helpful to compare your market budget in relation to your business goals so that you also have an idea of how to measure your results.

Step 3. Take a look back.

Which marketing tactics have been working? Sometimes you just need to take time to evaluate where your business is coming from currently or how you have found retention to work best in your current business. You will be able to identify the most successful pipelines for your business. This doesn’t mean you are going to abandon the other venues because you still need to nurture leads through social media advertising or email campaigns. It gives you insight on what is working and where you could maximize the results by putting more time and effort into those areas. This can save you time by doubling up your efforts in areas that have proven successful in the past.

Step 4. Identify resources.

This could be tools, a person, or a company to help you maximize your marketing efforts to reach your business goals quicker and more efficiently. Is there an employee who would be great at coming up with social media content? Or, maybe there is a better email marketing tool you could use to make it easier to generate campaigns and will give you better insight into how your emails are doing. You may decide an outside marketing service is necessary. I work primarily with companies who need part-time marketing support and don’t have the bandwidth in-house to tackle all their marketing needs. Or they have someone in-house but they are new to marketing and need some coaching and guidance to get them going.

Step 5. A plan of action and accountability.

You will need to have a game plan but then the discipline to follow through. It can be extremely helpful to have others help you stay accountable. This could be a monthly meeting with a co-worker to discuss marketing projects and progress or an outside marketing coach or professional you hire to assist you. Establish deadlines for each project to create some urgency.

Some people like worksheets so I have put together one you can use. This can be a good starting point to at least help you organize and prioritize where you want to start.

DOWNLOAD YOUR WORKSHEET

 

 

“The more you eliminate the inefficient use of information, the better it is for productivity.” – Mitch Kapor

 

 

NOW, HOW DO I FIND THE TIME?

You have a clear goal and plan. How are you going to execute it? What does that look like on a daily/weekly basis?

Now, the biggest barrier is overcoming our misconception that there isn’t any time to execute the plan you just put together.

 

BREAK UP YOUR GOAL into smaller tasks

Identify your top goal(s) and then decide how you can break that into projects or tasks that can scheduled out. For example, if you are looking to re-engage with customers who haven’t given you much business lately, this could be broken up into calling 5 customers a week or into sending them a monthly email. These individual tasks are more manageable and can be assigned out to others to help you achieve these steps.

CONNECT EACH DAY with your goal & tasks

We all need a system of connecting with our goals or else they won’t stay a priority. So, each week, and each day if possible, we can reconnect to our goals. By writing my goals daily on my agenda, it forces me to ask myself, “How are my priorities and actions today going to move me closer to my goals?” This literally only takes a minute or two each day and ensures I’m staying on track. Make a quick note in your agenda about what your overreaching goal is and it will give you the extra fire to tackle your day’s tasks.

(TIP – I don’t recommend putting them on the wall unless you are going to re-write it or update it each week. How many of us have a picture of artwork up in our office? And when is the last time you can remember looking at it? I certainly can’t remember the last time I looked at mine. That’s because once it is there for a while, your brain will ignore it. This is why putting your goals on the wall isn’t as effective in my opinion.)

TIME MANAGEMENT to prioritize your agenda

Time management is what you do when you prioritize your agenda for the day. The way you schedule your day is key to maximizing your productivity. If you aren’t scheduling your day, you are probably being pushed along by urgent matters that pop up rather than intentionally working on certain goals. My productivity increased dramatically by doing a daily agenda. The key is to just START and then continue doing a schedule each day until it becomes habit. Be realistic about how you structure your time and your day. The time of day that you schedule tasks can also make or break your plan. The wee hours of the morning are my prime time for doing creative work where you may find a later time more suited to you.

ATTENTION MANAGEMENT to minimize distractions

This is an essential skill for maximizing the few minutes you have allocated to marketing your company. Minimize distractions. According to University of Irvine study, it takes people and average of 23 minutes to get back on task after getting distracted. So, what we think will be a quick reply to an email can snowball into more and before we know it, we have spent all our allocated time. Obviously, things pop up that are unavoidable in your business. However, we can also let ourselves be distracted by tasks that are not urgent.

EAT THE FROG FIRST, preferably in the morning

What is the main marketing task you have been avoiding and know you need to do? Starting an article can be the hardest part for me. Once I get going, the creative juices start flowing and I have a great time. Scheduling this task early in the day and just starting by writing down a rough title and bullets gets me over the initial hump and the frog is eaten! Tackling a task you’ve been avoiding helps your overall mood and productivity and sets the tone for the day.

PUT YOUR PLAN into action!

Do it today!

– Establish a marketing meeting with your team
– Or, ask me how to maximize your marketing productivity!

Erika DeBlasi is the TranStrategy Partners’ Marketing Coach and has worked as a marketing executive in freight brokerage and financial services industries. She drives the marketing, branding, advertising and communication activities for a variety of companies in addition to providing a broad spectrum of marketing and communication training.
>> Schedule Your Complimentary Marketing Review with her

At the Cusp of Greatness

At the Cusp of Greatness

“Borders are always tricky, intriguing things.” -Daniel Quinn The Story of B

For many entrepreneurs, there are steps along the path to success that are more difficult than others. Whether the move from $3M to $10M, or from $20M to $50M or even the steps beyond $100M in revenue, the methodologies of each requires new thinking and a change in behavior.

The steps across these thresholds are either simple strides of confidence or great leaps of faith – often revealed in the truths of perspective. Approaching a fundamental shift in mindset is both uncomfortable and difficult to achieve and much is predicated on the power of one’s belief in the goal. Defining what $50M in revenue looks like (with personnel, technology and leadership) helps to define the actions necessary to reach $50M. The clearer the vision, the clearer the steps necessary to achieve it.

However, if the goal is ambiguous, like ‘more’ revenue and ‘better’ processes, the threshold becomes stickier, causing the leaders to get mired in contradictory priorities with a lack of both clarity and focus on the actions necessary to achieve it or even to know whether it is actually achieved.

Visions must be simple to express and impactful to receive. Often, the numbers themselves ($10M or $100M) serve only as a measurement. The true motivation behind the numbers can act as the catalyst and collaborative force in achievement:

  1. $10M in total revenue allows us to provide quality health care benefits and 401k options for our staff;
  2. $3M in gross margin allows us the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of 100 people served by the homeless shelter in our community;
  3. $50M in revenue guides us to support our business’ Feeding America and Blue Star Mothers initiatives;
  4. Our 30 employees place us as one of the top employers and ‘business of choice’ in our county

How do these numbers make a noticeable impact on actual lives? Answering that question brings realism to an otherwise economic discussion. Whatever the impact that you want to make, clear growth goals, guided by purpose, can meet both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivations in your people (and yourself).

Naming the Good that is expressed by the goal attainment becomes the driving force behind ‘why’ your business exists and the purpose it is poised to achieve. The ‘what’ you choose to do and the ‘how’ you choose to do it follow directly from the ‘why’. The ‘why’ provides the context that allows a common focus from everyone that accelerates the actions to bring about the reality of the vision.

Be clear on your vision, share that vision, show how the vision positively affects others and you will be able to move more confidently across challenging thresholds of growth towards a more impactful future.

The Value of Professional Development

The Value of Professional Development

Knowledge and skills development are vital to the health of any organization. We live in an information age. Therefore, an organization’s ability to manage and process information plays a key role in its overall success. The people within the organizations must have the skills to organize, disseminate and retain information.

Training is one of the chief methods of properly utilizing this intellectual capital. Every employee should have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skill level in order to become more efficient, more effective, and more productive in their job. This produces many benefits for them personally as well as for the overall organization.

It is common for organizations to think of training strictly in terms of an on-boarding process for new employees. Although this is a valuable and necessary function of training, it should not stop there. Often times, employees are left to continue learning on their own – by watching other employees, asking questions, or through trial and error. The most effective organizations however, will provide some type of ongoing training, continuing education, or professional development program in order to maximize the employee’s potential.

Here are some typical benefits of a Professional Development (PD) program:
1. PD ensures that your employees maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills they need to deliver professional services to your customers, clients, and the community.

2. PD helps your employees stay relevant and up to date. The pace of change is faster today than it’s ever been. If you stand still, you get left behind. Therefore, it is mandatory that employees keep pace with the current trends, directions and standards in their industry.

3. PD allows employees to increase their knowledge base. As this happens, they become more effective. This, in turn, will help them advance in their careers by moving into new positions where they can lead, manage, and influence others in a positive way.

4. PD opens employees up to new ways of thinking. Experience is a great teacher but it often means continuing to do the same things in the same way. PD will help them discover new ideas and methodologies that may prove to be faster, more efficient, and even more cost effective.

5. PD will enhance a sense of team in your work environment. As people begin learning the same content, they begin thinking more cohesively, speaking the same language, and augmenting each other rather than miscommunicating and running over each other all the time.

6. PD will boost employee satisfaction. When employees can do their jobs more effectively, they grow more confident. This new level of confidence leads to an overall increased level of satisfaction with their job, which leads to an increased level of retention within your company.

7. When you offer PD opportunities, you are enhancing your overall reputation as an employer that cares about and invests in its workforce. Remember, your employees are your brand ambassadors. When they receive PD, they will reflect all that’s good about your organization.

8. Having a well-developed PD program will attract quality candidates. If applicants know there is the potential to raise their skill level and compensation at your company, you are more likely to attract top level candidates.

9. PD programs will help enhance your company’s culture. Along with creating a greater sense of team, continuing education exposes employees to new experiences and keeps them engaged in their work. This building of enthusiasm among staff will engender a sense of loyalty that greatly affects the work environment in a positive way.

10. PD programs can help the development of future leaders in your organization. If you are interested in the possibility of promoting within, helping people to grow through a professional development program can be a good way to see who rises to the top.

If you are unsure of how to develop a professional development program in your organization, here are a few ideas:

Coaching
Coaching involves a more experienced or skilled individual providing an employee with advice and guidance intended to help him or her gain new skills, improve performance and enhance the quality of his or her career. The hallmarks of coaching are that it is personalized and customized, that it has a specific business objective, and that it is usually accomplished one-on-one over a period of time.

Mentoring
Mentoring matches less experienced employees with more experienced colleagues through formal or informal programs. Formal mentoring programs can reduce turnover, enhance recruitment, and improve performance and the work environment.

Effective mentoring programs do the following:
• Match mentors and mentees based on skills and development needs.
• Outline and track goals.
• Designate minimum time commitments.
• Monitor the mentoring relationship.
• Hold both parties accountable.
• Link mentoring to talent management strategy and goals.
• Link mentoring to business strategy and goals.

The 9-Box Grid
The 9-box grid is an individual employee assessment tool that evaluates the employee’s current and potential levels of contribution to the organization. The grid is most commonly used in succession planning as a method of evaluating an organization’s talent pool and identifying potential leaders. For performance appraisal purposes, the 9-box grid provides a visual reference that can include appraisal and assessment data to allow managers to view employees’ actual and potential performance.

Cross-Training
Cross-training refers to training employees to perform job duties other than those normally assigned. Cross-training can be a short-term or ad hoc fix, or it can be an ongoing, planned process. Cross-training usually does not result in immediate advancement, but it does indicate that an employee is interested in learning new skills. This skill diversity may help him or her meet qualifications for future career advancement.

“Stretch” Assignments
On-the-job training projects and “stretch assignments” give employees a chance to learn while doing real work. Developmental assignments allow employees to develop new skills, knowledge and competencies necessary for higher-level positions. Here’s some things to keep in mind when using stretch assignments:
1) Identify a developmental experience that will challenge your team member in a new way.
2) Make sure the challenge and the employee’s skill levels align, so that there’s good flow.
3) Provide a rich context for the employee to grow.
4) Make sure that goals are clear and understood by both parties.

Here are some examples of stretch assignments:
• Manage a volunteer or intern
• Execute a new or important company project
• Participate in the company’s strategic planning process
• Turn around a failing project, department or operation
• Organize and lead an important company event or meeting
• Lead a high-profile initiative
• Conduct a customer-needs analysis
• Write a policy statement
• Facilitate change in the way a business or a process is conducted
• Fix a preexisting problem
• Evaluate a training program
• Join a team dealing with conflict
• Create a customer satisfaction survey
• Negotiate a new customer contract
• Re-launch a product or service that previously failed
• Lead people from different cultures, gender, racial or ethnic backgrounds
• Influence and oversee people or processes for which one has no direct authority

Job Enlargement and Job Enrichment
Job enlargement involves expanding the employee’s job by adding more tasks and duties, typically at the same level of complexity. Job enrichment builds more depth to an employee’s job through more control, responsibility and discretion.

Job Shadowing
Job shadowing requires more than just having an employee follow a colleague around all day. Shadowers view the organization from a different perspective and learn firsthand about the challenges facing workers in other departments. This perspective helps employees realize the impact their decisions have on other groups.

Job Rotation
Job rotation is the systematic movement of employees from job to job within an organization. Rotation programs may vary in size and formality. Though larger employers are more likely to invest in a formalized job rotation program, organizations of all sizes might consider implementing a job rotation program. Typically, formal rotation programs offer customized assignments to promising employees to give them a view of the entire business. Assignments usually run for a year or more.

Succession Planning
Succession planning identifies long-range needs and cultivates internal talent to meet those needs. Succession plans typically focus on a one- to three-year process of preparing employees—not preselecting them—for new roles in the organization.

Assessment Centers
An assessment center is not necessarily a physical site, as the term might suggest, but a program of tools and exercises designed to assess an employee’s or job candidate’s suitability in relation to a particular role. Centers may be used for selection or development purposes.

Corporate Universities
Corporate universities focus primarily on on-the-job skills, company-specific proprietary knowledge and branding, and certification. At a corporate university, the focus is on learning that will benefit the organization, not just the individual. Benefits of the corporate university format include strategic alignment with company goals, consistent quality and uniform messages that reach all learners. A corporate university is also a tangible symbol of the organization’s commitment to learning and growth.

When employees become more efficient and productive, your entire company becomes more productive. This allows for new innovations, bringing new strength to strategies, products and your company’s capacity to adopt new technologies and methods. All these factors will contribute to increasing stability, sustainability and your bottom line.

7 Steps to Raise Employee Performance

7 Steps to Raise Employee Performance

You’ve gone through the time and expense of hiring a new employee, but you are not guaranteed the employee you hired will be the highly productive worker you hope for.

When employee performance problems arise, you need to deal with them through specific employee improvement conversations. Here are seven steps for conducting effective performance improvement conversations:

1. Start the conversation by stating something the employee does well. This will help the employee be more open to hearing about where improvement is needed.

2. Describe the problem (performance issue) clearly and in a non-threatening way. Talk about the specific behavior, and do not discuss personality traits. Discuss what the person did, not who the person is. Always remain positive, explaining that you will be an active partner in correcting the situation.

3. Ask the employee to help in solving the problem. Discuss alternative solutions and mutually agree on actions to be taken. Try to use the employee’s solution where possible. When the employee’s ideas are part of the solution, he/she is more committed to making it work.

4. Provide resources to help the employee improve. In some instances, there’s an easy remedy to the performance issue. Possibly a better process/procedure is needed to help the employee become more efficient. Alternatively, the employee may need some additional training or a class to develop a certain skill.

5. Set a specific action plan with follow up dates. Ask questions to make sure the employee understands what is expected. Then develop an action plan that specifies performance expectations and the date for completion. (E.g. the first draft of the PowerPoint presentation should be completed in one week.) Have checkpoints along the way so there’s an opportunity for changing course if necessary.

6. End on a positive note. It is important to communicate to the employee that you are confident he/she can solve this problem and make a positive contribution to the organization.

7. Follow up and recognize improvement. Remember to hold the follow up meetings when scheduled. Recognize any improvement and continue to coach the person doing the right things. If improvement has not occurred, move to the disciplinary process.

Although these steps cannot ensure improved performance, they are a start in the process.
Improving employee performance is a win-win for everyone.

The employee wins by learning what is needed to enhance performance, thereby changing behavior and becoming a more productive member of the organization.

The manager wins by counseling a person to achieve desired behavior, thereby resulting in a more productive and satisfied employee.

Lastly, the organization wins by retaining motivated employees who understand their role and the roles of others in contributing to the goals, culture, and success of the organization.

10 Steps to Profit from Process Improvement

10 Steps to Profit from Process Improvement

Anyone interested in growth? Having your employee’s feel important and involved in decision making for minimal expense and maximum value?

Make the investment in a process improvement team and see how well this will work for you.
A process improvement team (PIT) is a group of workers who get together on a regular basis to discuss how to make your business processes better.

The concept is that they take on one process at a time and come up with a way to make that process incrementally better than it currently is. They do this again and again, getting each process a little better each time.

This process improvement works for small transportation companies of two or three people as well as for large fortune 500 type organizations.

These 10 steps will lead to effective PIT meetings, with positive results:

1.Keep the meetings to no more than three employees and another management leader (total of five including you) and limit the meeting to one hour or less.

2.Include your entire group. Leave no one out of the process discussions.

3.With five employees per meeting, topics are discussed in six consecutive meetings. Don’t change topics mid stream. Stay focused.

4.Hold these meetings every two weeks, perhaps over a lunch period. You’ll have six meetings per quarter.

5.Solicit ideas from your entire staff before the beginning of each quarter as to what topics/process may need review.

6.Prior to your first meeting, you as the leader, choose three to four topics for the discussion period, rating each topic in order of importance. Leave the remaining topics for the next group. Do not forget anyone’s topic submitted or you will lose participation. If a certain topic doesn’t require review by the team, advise the employee who submitted the idea and share the reasons why review isn’t necessary.

7.Once you have your core topics, they are discussed in each meeting so all employees have input to include suggestions for fine tuning processes, if any is required.

8.Review the final outcome and group decisions of your meetings content.

9.Make necessary revisions or changes to procedures, functions or systems, notifying your employees as soon as the revisions are complete.

10.Supply your entire group with the necessary feedback from each meeting. Send them an e-mail with the meeting minutes. Praise those who develop a “fix” for you. Keep your staff informed.

By putting aside an hour every two weeks, PIT meetings can be exceptionally beneficial to managers and to your business.

If you are already using a process improvement method, we’d love to hear about it. Give me a call and tell me how you do it. Need some help with process improvement? Give me a call at 888-625-1139 and tell me your needs.

2018 TIA Conference Retrospective

2018 TIA Conference Retrospective

Reflecting on this past week’s TIA Convention in Palm Desert, I was reminded of the collective energy and genius that is present in our industry. From the solid structure of educational offerings to the powerful one on one insights over meals (beverages), the benefit to this gathering is immense. Buoyed by strong 2017 revenue and even stronger Q1 numbers, opportunity and excitement led the way.

With the added revenue and strong margins and profit, leaders are looking to make strategic investments in their organizations to capitalize on these growth opportunities. By clearly defining long term plans and the inherent priorities over the next few months, companies can capture the value that lies ahead.

Technology Perspectives

Data, in both capture and expression, is too valuable in today’s environment to be left wilting on the vine. Between TMS providers, information integrators, freight payment options and marketing providers, there are many ways to best utilize your internal data in conjunction with industry data to give your front line the power to succeed. Define what you are looking to achieve (not just for today, but for a longer horizon) and review options that will move you in that direction of Achievement. As new technology solutions (and their inherent problems) are created, be sure to ask questions with the context of your company to best understand the benefits and to avoid unnecessary exposure.

People Perspectives

People in structure and development are the machines of your operational expansion. You must be mindful of the way they are trained, organized, compensated and developed to ensure maximization of their long term productivity in the organization. They need to be given the proper tools, processes and motivators to grow and to effectively manage growth. Define the perfect employees for each role and the perfect processes for each function. Compare those to your current employees and processes to recognize the existing gaps. Build the hiring, training, organization and compensation models that will cross the gaps to the ideal.

Strategic Perspectives

Growth can come from a variety of different strategies. Organic growth springs from improvements to your existing methods, processes and products to drive expansion. Through proper utilization of Technology and People Strategies, your organization can spur growth and strengthen relationships across the enterprise. Beginning with your Vision of success, you can work backward to create the actions to move from your current situations and bridge the gaps. You can work forward into the future of your organization to develop sustainability or exit plans. You can find an existing external operation that strengthens an identified internal weakness and helps drive achievement faster.

It is imperative to find the right partners to both support your goals and to guide you in the areas where their expertise is greater. The TIA Convention is a wonderful forum to meet and share with potential partners to accelerate and maximize your business objectives.

Optimism Redefined: Building the plans for successful achievement.

Optimism Redefined: Building the plans for successful achievement.

Optimism defined: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

In a recent study, it was determined that the younger working class (millennials) is less optimistic than previous generations. In our current technology focused world, we are hyper aware of any local, national or global activity. This hyper awareness shows the granular existence of both good and bad. Less is open for interpretation. Reality can be less filtered through our own comfortable biases and can make one feel less optimistic than the less connected previous generation.

However, optimism isn’t a static existence or experience; it is a dynamic belief of the individual at the time of the questioning. There are moments in all our lives where we are truly optimistic and others where we have a deep pessimism about the future. Much is determined by our ability to understand and have control of the decisions that lead us forward in aligning our future with the perceived success that we desire.

Finding optimism in our personal and professional lives evolves from a clear understanding of our goals. These goals, defined by our desire and bound by our capabilities (both current and future), are at the end of a pathway – a pathway that is varied in both direction and length. There is no straight line between where you are today and where you plan to be. The path changes as a result of obstacles, conflicting choices and the unknown unknowns.

The key to achievement is to develop a plan that takes you to the vision of success.

The first step is to have a clear and honest understanding of where you are today. By assessing your business across multiple factors – financial, cultural, personnel and market position – you have a baseline starting point. Without clarity of this starting point, the following steps (and the decisions that must be made) are built on a faulty foundation and will be unsustainable as you move forward.

The second step is to have a clear vision of what success means for you and your company. Define the goals across the factors – this may be a financial number ($20M), it may be the creation of a sustainable, growing company to pass down through generations, or it may be to become the leading regional LTL provider in the upper Midwest. Once you establish the goal(s), a system is created between your current state (the baseline starting point) and your desired state (the goals and vision of success).

The third step is to take ownership of the plan and its corresponding goals. You and your organization must become committed to both. Each and every decision related to the business from that point needs to be made through the context of the plan and the goals. There is comfort in the status quo and often decisions are made that keep us within this comfort zone, but the goals exist in competition with the status quo and will cause discomfort. Belief and commitment, along with communication and reinforcement of the goals, will keep you focused in making decisions aligned to your success.

The last steps of the process are the actions necessary for achievement. The creation of useful metrics and measurements to assess the movement keeps you, and each person, progressing towards the goal. Regular review of the action steps – where you are accelerating and where you are lagging behind – will help you understand where to deploy resources to stay on track. Support your team through recognition and reward. Hold them accountable to the expectations and behaviors necessary to reach your goals. In short, lead them across the finish line.

Having a clear plan and the tools to work it creates an energy that drives success. This energy is contagious and feeds others within your organization to continue to grow and move forward. This collaborative and motivating energy is powerful. It fosters innovation and facilitates the necessary changes to bring greater value to your company. This energy has a name and that name is optimism.

Home Grown Talent vs Free Agency: Hiring Well in the Transportation Industry

Home Grown Talent vs Free Agency: Hiring Well in the Transportation Industry

Finding the right talent to accelerate your brokerage growth can be a challenging exercise – sometimes there are diamonds in the rough and other times the diamonds are too rough. The goal of any recruiting program is to find the best fit for your strategy and your culture. Too often, management is focused on the immediate revenue return potential instead of a longer view on consistent, predictable revenue growth model. However, a newer salesforce can be slow to gain traction and can become discouraged before it can make noticeable gains. Managing expectations in finding and developing the team becomes the primary role of the organizational leadership. Both talent pools can offer strong results, but careful attention must be paid to adherence to the organization’s strategic plan and culture.

Free Agent Pros

Successful salespeople can inject energy and momentum into a company that may have become stagnant and they can accelerate existing growth. Managed and compensated properly, sales success is contagious. Bringing on a proven sales professional can set the right tone for the team with a focus on growth through investment. Sales professionals bring valuable practices and processes to targeting prospects, lead development and nurturing skills.

Free Agent Cons

In a world of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, finding the all-star sales rep that can bring an immediate push to revenue is very difficult. Hiring companies are banking not only on the historical book of business, but on the track record of success. It is important to understand the sales methodology and process of an experienced transportation sales professional to see if they can align to your existing process.

Be aware that, if a sales rep is looking for other opportunities, he/she may carry some baggage related to their previous company.

New Hire Pros

By enlisting new and fresh people into a transportation sales role, you have a clean canvas available to create the perfect salesperson. It is important to find the talent that embodies and exhibits, through past action and previous responsibility, the behavioral components of future success in the transportation industry.

New Hire Cons

Ramp up time and consistent progression are often the largest hurdles to overcome when brining on a new and untested salesperson. Folks who are new to sales don’t often understand that rejection and disappointment are part of the process and that failure comes before success. Attention must be paid to the process – with regular communication and feedback to reduce burnout.

Align for Success

By hiring for cultural, behavioral and organizational fit of salesforce members, the company can build a team from a strong foundation. As with any hire, you want to find alignment to your organizational vision and goals. The faces, voices, hearts and brains that make hundreds (and thousands) of contacts every day must be fully invested in the company’s plans for success.

Train and Develop Skills to Maximize Results

Invest in your people and give them the tools and skills to achieve. Create a comprehensive and sustainable training and development program that, in turn, creates a winning team that will drive your growth and success.

To learn more about hiring and training programs designed for brokerage success, visit our website – www.gotranstrategy.com – or reach out to me directly – andrew@transtrategypartners.com

Differentiate Your Business from Its Competitors

Differentiate Your Business from Its Competitors

There are three basic ways to position or differentiate your business from its competitors:

1. Be a market leader. Choose a particular market and focus on being the leader in that market.
2. Be unique. Offer something no one else or just a few shippers do.
3. Be a price leader. Focus on providing low cost services. Wal-Mart is a good example of a successful business built on this strategy.

Warning: Trying to be all things to all people will inhibit your growth. Instead, be the very best at something. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes what he calls the hedgehog concept. A hedgehog is an animal that protects itself by rolling into a ball that cannot be penetrated. Your marketing strategy should protect your business in exactly the same way.

Whatever direction you choose, commit to it and do everything you can to be the very best at what you do.

Next identify your company’s unique selling proposition. What makes your company different? Is it the way you communicate with your customers, your unique transportation services, the technology you use, or something else? Figure out what makes you “the purple cow” that stands out from everyone else. Even if your uniqueness is not 100% unique, treat it like it is. Make it work to your advantage.

Tip: Your unique selling point should be about more than your equipment or what you haul.

Once you are clear on what your unique selling proposition is, design everything about your business around it, and make sure that your employees fully understand it and know what they need must do to underscore it and deliver on it. Then, go after customers that are seeking that uniqueness, making sure that you clearly convey to them what distinguishes your business from the competition.

Tip: When you offer something unique, you can usually charge a bit more than firms that don’t offer what you do and/or you will be able to minimize your price competition.