Manage Your Cash

Manage Your Cash

Managing your business’ cash is not something you should think about every once in a while. You must manage it every single day because cash fuels your business. It’s your business’ lifeblood. On a daily basis you should check how much money your business took in, how much it spent, and the status of your receivables. If you don’t do all of these things, you risk being blindsided by a cash shortfall, which could cripple your business.

If you don’t have the time to manage your business’ cash day to day, give that responsibility to someone who has the skills to do it and who you can trust to do it well.

Many new businesses do not pay enough attention to cash management because they are overly focused on generating sales.

There are several aspects to effective cash management. For example:

  • Use credit applications to figure out to whom you will extend credit and how much credit you will extend. Ask each of your customers to complete a credit application and then evaluate the information on each application using a credit scoring process.
  • Make timely billing a priority. The quicker you bill, the faster you will get paid and the less likely that you will have a problem with cash. Although a lot of businesses invoice once a week, I recommend that you invoice every day.
  • Understand how your customers handle their accounts payable and what you must do to ensure that they pay you as quickly as possible.
  • Monitor your accounts receivables on a daily basis and do not let bad debt accumulate. Even one past due account can have a big impact on your business’ financial health.
  • Use an electronic accounting system. If you don’t have one, get one!
  • Manage your credit relationships with your carriers as aggressively as you manage your shipper relationships.
Everyone knows your tactics, but not your strategy!

Everyone knows your tactics, but not your strategy!

“Everyone knows my tactics, but no one knows my strategy,” attributed to Sun Tzu in The Art of War*

This got me thinking how many business leaders in the third-party logistics industry (myself included) spend too much time focused on the business tactics of our competition.

Then we try to copy those tactics in our own company, hoping against all evidence otherwise, that they’ll make us wildly successful.

We try to create high pressure/high volume sales teams where we’ve never had them because that seemed to work for (insert competitor’s name here).

We want to have the most intensive website, with videos, flashing graphics and all, because (insert competitor’s name here) has one and they’ve grown more than 50% each year for the last three years.

We want to copy the most sophisticated incentive based compensation system used by (insert competitor’s name here) in the hopes that it’ll make star performers out of our average employees.

But copying tactics used by the competition will not make your business successful. Your business will be successful when you have a clear mission, a well thought-out strategy, and then using the tactics that support your strategy and, most especially, have meaning for your customers.

Your Mission is a statement of purpose, what you are in business to accomplish. Your reason to exist at all.

Your Strategy is about the long term direction of the company. It’s about the resources you’ll have, the markets you’ll serve, your competitive advantage, and the expectations of your customers.

Your Tactics are how you do what you do. In the longer term it is how your processes and technology are deployed. On a daily basis it’s about everything from how you open the office in the morning and answer the phones to how you qualify carriers and collect your money. Every one of your tactics should make it easier for your customers to do business with you, and if they don’t you must change them as soon as possible.

Whether you’re starting a new business or your existing business needs a change, start with a clear Mission. Take the time to create, and stick with, a well-reasoned Strategy, and then create your own identity in the marketplace with the Tactics that flow from this process.

* The more accepted translation of this quotation is “All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

You can raise your business game today. Your Mission and Strategy are unique to your company, but the specific tactics you use are pretty common.

Thankfulness: Crossing Bridges

Thankfulness: Crossing Bridges

As we approach the end of the year and our celebration of Thanksgiving, I wanted to express appreciation to all of our clients, to our colleagues, to our friends and to our industry – an industry that embraces the challenges of growth, of change, of technology, of talent acquisition and of diversity to create a pathway to success.

This past week, I had the privilege to attend the Women In Trucking (WIT) Accelerate! Conference in Frisco, TX. With over 800 attendees (60% increase from 2017), there was an energy and a spark(le) to the conference. Over the last 11 years, the mission of WIT has been to encourage the employment of women in our industry, to promote their accomplishments and to limit any obstacles faced. The sense of empowerment and forward movement was palpable throughout the conference.

Networking

From the steady rhythm of the speed networking session to the reception events to the integrated expo, attendees had the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and make new connections. Every conversation served to strengthen a relationship and build the foundation for great work in the future.

Unlike other conferences that celebrate only the few, Accelerate! is a celebration of all – drivers, directors, recruiters, salespeople and owners alike. There is a true sense of community and that community is driven by collaboration.

Education and Development

The core of the conference is about development – from sessions and breakout topics (for individual knowledge gain) to affiliate member tools and services (for business development). Growth and advancement are key points to a fulfilling life and career.

For us, at TranStrategy, we were excited to celebrate the first graduates of the WIT Professional Development Certification (PDC) at the conference. Designed with and for the association, the PDC is a 30-course curriculum across Leadership, Success and Personal Brand development. Delivered online and on demand, the program helps the learner to build skills, to look from a more strategic viewpoint at their business and career and to foster growth and empowerment for themselves. The benefits are received by both the individual and organization.

Congratulations, again to Bonnie Supan, Erin Turcotte, Susan Collins and Ellen Voie.

Looking Ahead

I had a colleague ask where I was this past week and when I told him that I was at the WIT conference, he stated that we should have a Men in Trucking conference. Shaking my head, I just had to say, “for a hundred years, that has been called the ‘Trucking Industry’.” The point is inclusivity, not exclusivity.

As we understand and encourage the power of diversity, across race and gender, the industry becomes stronger more adaptable to the changes on the horizon.

It is a privilege and an honor to be a part of the movement and the vision of Ellen Voie and WIT.
Thank you.

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

What got you here, won’t get you there is the message that we are increasingly delivering to our clients.

At TranStrategy Partners, our executive clients are very successful people, typically the owners and senior leadership of freight brokerage businesses. They have grown their companies through brains and hustle – lots and lots of hustle. Definitely a battle-hardened group of entrepreneurs.

These guys and gals are masters of the freight management universe and experts at cold calling, carrier network development, load tendering, customer service, problem solving and everything else needed to run a successful freight brokerage.

They come to us because they want to get to the next level, which means something different for every one of our client. Our engagements typically begin with a 360-degree business assessment to understand the current state of the organization. From the assessment, we make recommendations and partner with companies to develop:

· Strategy and implementation
· Training and people development
· Improved organizational structure and accountability
· Sales and marketing muscle

Our recommendations are changing somewhat, because doing the same things more effectively and more efficiently isn’t enough in the rapidly changing transportation market. To win in the new competitive environment, freight brokerage companies will need to do different things.

Do These 4 Things to Get There

1. Be an Industry Expert
Shippers are looking for a company who can solve their problems – ideally a company that specializes in solving problems for people just like them. If you are the shipping manager for an ecommerce company, wouldn’t you rather work with a company that specializes in ecommerce shipping? Stop generalizing and start specializing.

2. Become a Total Solution Provider
Freight brokers have a narrow niche – they match great carriers with great shippers and manage every step of the process. But shippers often have other transportation needs like LTL, courier service, freight forwarding, etc. It might make sense to expand your service offerings. The fast-growing ecommerce company you serve no doubt has LTL and home delivery shipments and your competition who moves those loads, will be pushing hard to take over the shipments you currently manage.

3. Provide Insights and Recommendations
Business intelligence, big data and analytics seem to be all the rage these days even though most people have only a vague idea what they mean. I like to keep things simple. I think all those fancy terms refer to collecting data, analyzing it and providing actionable insights. Your company’s transportation management system (TMS) collects and stores all sorts of useful information. Talk with your ecommerce customer and determine if data in your system can be used to help them make better decisions. Perhaps, shipment data from the last 6 months holds the key to a solving a big problem that your customer has. Put your data to work.

4. Focus on Marketing
The freight brokerage business has historically relied on cold calling, which isn’t working as well as it once did. Savvy transportation companies are using marketing, usually digital marketing to fill the top of their sales funnel. A focus on marketing and lead generation is a big shift for many companies that have lived and died by “smiling and dialing.” To be found online via digital marketing takes just as much hard work and dedication as cold calling. The good news about the web is customers find you and if you do it right, they will reach out to you. When customers reach out to you, they know they have a problem and they think you can fix it, which is a much better way to begin a business relationship.

Industry Associations are Good for your Business

Industry Associations are Good for your Business

You can always come up with reasons to not bother being involved with industry associations. However, we have found that companies are generally better because of such involvement; and time spent bettering your company is time well spent.

Whether your company is a small mom and pop shop or a large enterprise, industry associations offer benefits for everyone.

The key to successful association membership is networking with your peers. Not only does it provide the opportunity to meet individuals who share a common interest, it can also spark the beginning of new friendships and solid business relationships. After all, you can never have too many contacts in this industry.

Most associations provide a newsletter or publication, whether it is weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Contained in these publications is priceless information touching on all the topics that affect the industry–driver shortages, freight trends, and government, environmental, legal and financial issues.

You can find breaking news on legislative decisions; upcoming seminars, conventions or meetings; new industry standards and best practices; employment opportunities; and industry trends. Plus newsletters keep you abreast of the latest developments among your fellow association members.

Being listed in an association directory is also beneficial to your firm, in more ways than one. Not only does an association directory promote the services of fellow members, in many cases it is distributed widely outside of the membership, increasing chances for work both inside and outside of the association.

Many associations have frequent meetings and webinars to discuss topics of concern to members. Meetings are but one of the many events held. Most have annual conventions, award ceremonies, workshops, management seminars and dinners, and even golf outings. A massive amount of information, company promotion and networking takes place in each of these outlets.

Don’t get me wrong, membership in an industry association will not guarantee your organization’s success, but active membership could be a step in the right direction. Plus, many of your competitors are already reaping the benefits.

Don’t be left out of the loop. Join us, along with hundreds of others in getting involved in this industry through the many associations that serve the transportation marketplace.