TranStrategy Partners regularly publishes articles to help
freight brokers become the best versions of themselves and grow their
businesses. Here is an overview of the top articles of 2018 so you can get
caught up on your peers’ favorite content!
1. Shippers Don’t Want Your Old Marketing & Sales Tactics Read the top pet peeves and tips from the shippers’ panel discussion at TMSA’s conference. One of the leading sessions was a panel of transportation and supply chain decision-makers discussing Shipper Perspectives: “Aligning Your Value with the Needs of Your Customer.” This session was packed full of helpful insights for those of us trying to position our services to this audience and their peers. READ MORE
2. Styles in Profiles: Connecting across Psychological Dimensions When approaching customers, it is essential to understand their buying styles – how they make decisions and how they interpret data to inform those decisions. While every person is unique, there are four basic buying styles from which one can establish sales communication and protocols. READ MORE
3. 5 Jedi Strategies For A Successful Approach To Brokerage Apply Yoda’s lessons to your brokerage. Apply these Jedi tips on training, commitment, belief, patience, and abundance. READ MORE
4. Revenue is Vanity – Margin is Sanity Focusing on revenue AND MARGIN is smart, but getting your employees aligned to your profitability goals is even smarter. It is smart to focus on profitability, rather than just revenue. At TSP, our philosophy is “revenue is vanity and margin is sanity.” After all, it’s not what you make, it’s what goes to the bottom line.READ MORE
5. If You Get The Culture Right, The Other Stuff Will Take of Itself Most business leaders don’t work on their company’s culture because they don’t know where to start. It is much easier to work on tangible, easy to understand problems, but working on the company culture will help you eliminate future problems and position your company for growth. READ MORE
6. Overcoming Hidden Obstacles and the Permission to Succeed Many brokerage businesses achieve certain levels of success through the sheer will and drive of their entrepreneurial founders and leadership. However, the wider opportunities that exist are often hidden from these leaders due to inherent uncertainties and deep seated fears of exponential success. READ MORE
7. 4 Aspects of Leaders to Combat Entitlement Every day someone is trying to find a way into your success. Other brokers are trying to become the transportation provider of choice for your best customers. Some team members are trying to show that they have the skills to replace you. Power is a fickle partner. Knowing how to encourage employees to take on responsibility with a healthy dose of confidence, while keeping entitlement at bay, can be a tricky balancing act. READ MORE
8. 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. READ MORE
9. Partnerships for Growth Successful organizations are built with the blood, sweat and tears of many partners – mentors, coaches, employees, clients and vendors. Choosing the right partners to support the company vision becomes a key part of the success. READ MORE
10. Respect: Given and Earned Your organizational vision and strategy are the framework to achieve greatness. However, without the right people – in the right positions, on the right path and making the right decisions – greatness is only a dream. READ MORE
11. 4 Gauges to Avoid Sabotaging Growth In contrast to the success that you have had in building your company, there are always obstacles and challenges present that minimize growth potential and inhibit maximization efforts to forge greater success. The challenges could manifest as people/personnel issues, operational inefficiencies or, perhaps, even barriers to new customer acquisition. READ MORE
12. Re-purpose Your Employees Purpose and Vision are key components in the development of the proper culture for your organization. Clearly communicating that Purpose and Vision to your employees helps to align them and creates a pathway to greater engagement and satisfaction. READ MORE
TranStrategy Partners is the premier partner for freight brokerage firms looking to maximize their business and accelerate their performance. We provide transformative growth to organizations through coaching, business acceleration programs and an on-line training platform.
When your life, both personal and professional, is filled with competing priorities, it becomes difficult to provide the necessary attention to everything. Inevitably, something fails – often, many things fail.
Setting (Realistic) Expectations
As you review any request made of your time and resources, it is important that there are clear and finite expectations associated with it. Open ended and unclear expectations are either set up for potential failure or a long-term resource sucking engagement. Organization of your time through a calendar or planner can help you know your availability and what you can/may be able to offer.
Upon any request made, be sure to ask about timelines, input requirements and outcome success metrics (if applicable). This way you have clarity and a more defined plan to move forward, if you so choose.
Keeping it in Context
Any activity, decision or utilization of your time and resources must fit into a plan. There needs to be a context to a larger goal or objective set. Otherwise your time and energy are beholden to someone else’s plans. This is not to say that you can’t volunteer and support others, but it should be a CHOICE to do so.
By establishing your goals and objectives (your child’s growth and development, your career pathway or something more project based) you have the lens through which you can make decisions. Look at how the request of your time fits into the overall plan – does it move it forward? Is it contrary to your goal? do you have time to expend on this request?
With a plan in place decisions become easier and you can more easily and effectively say NO.
Learning to Say No
Many requests of your time and resources are made because you have a history of success or you have a history of saying YES. By understanding the expectations of any request and how it fits into your overall plan, you can make a decision as to whether the benefits and value make sense (for you and the other party). It may be that you are not the best suited to fulfill the request. Offering alternatives can provide a solution without damaging your relationship with the requester. Remember that you can still have input on a project and be involved without taking on full ownership of execution.
Your time, energy and resources are valuable – to you and those around you. Don’t offer them or sacrifice them or waste them. Be very intentional with them and make sure that they always serve a greater purpose.
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.
A client reached out to me about performance issues within his team and I want to share it with you.
He owns a freight brokerage business that employs 10 brokers. Overall, he has a good team and his business is growing, so they are on the right track. However, he has some employees who have spotty performance when it comes to sales and customer service. He feels these people could be successful so he wants to help them get their performance up rather than letting them go.
Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe you have experienced a similar situation with your team.
This is a very frustrating problem for managers. Since the performance is spotty, it implies that sometimes they get the desired results and other times they fall short. Since you are having some success, we can assume that your employees will be successful if they follow your process and make the appropriate effort.
At TranStrategy Partners, we recommend using the following 4 step approach to helping your employees meet your performance standards:
Set Expectations. Create clear expectations for what you expect in terms of results. Also, communicate the processes for getting those results. When you set expectations, it is important that your employee understands exactly what you mean. If possible, have them articulate the direction in their own words (active listening). Sometimes, things that seem simple and direct in our heads are far less clear to the listener – this is especially true if you are an expert and they are a newbie.
Job Specific Training. A properly developed training program is a great way to communicate the goal and the processes needed to reach the goal. Ideally, your training should improve your employee’s attitude, skills and knowledge. Developing the right attitude about the goal and the approach is key. The right mental attitude will motivate your employee to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed. Skills training will allow your employee to learn the specific skills needed for the job, like phone skills, customer service skills, TMS skills etc. Knowledge training refers to broader learning and practical understanding of a topic like supply chain, truck sizes, or industry best practices.
Inspection. After you have communicated your expectations and provided training, the next step is inspection. People do not always do what you expect, but they usually do what you inspect. Follow up with your under-performing broker to ensure they are doing exactly what you asked them to do. After a while, they will realize you are inspecting their work, which will compel them to follow the process. Inspect their work until their performance improves then reduce to periodic inspections to prevent backsliding into old habits.
Recognition and Reviews. The last step in the process is recognition and reviews. Schedule a review with your underperforming broker and discuss their performance. If they are back on track, encourage their progress and if they are still failing, determine the cause and take action. If you see your employee following the process and getting results, give them a little casual praise like “good job” or “attaboy.” Be careful with praise and recognition – it should always align to performance. Too much or too little can send the wrong message.