Is This Year Your LEAP Year?

Murray Pratt Blog, Business Insights Leave a Comment

Everyone would like to have an extra day during the week. You know the one – one where you could catch up on all the paperwork piling up on your desk. The one where you can finally address that one issue that has dogged you for the past year.

We only get one extra day every four years, during a leap year, hardly enough time to catch up.

But it’s not that Leap Year I am talking about.

It’s the “LEAP year,” the year you decided that you are going to do something different in your trucking business or freight brokerage. The year you are going to make bold move into a new market, offer a new service, buy out another trucking operation, take on some new owner-operators, go after some big new customers with some spanking new equipment.

In our lives, at various times, we all take that psychological leap. That moment of time where we challenge the conventions of our lives, some line of thinking or self-imposed limitation, and for a few moments we ask the question…the question made famous by Russell Wilson in the Seahawks SuperBowl victory.

“Why not us?”

You ask

“Why Not Me?”

What is stopping you?

Certainly there are enough loads out there. You can get financing for your equipment. You can hire owner operators.

The biggest reason I like marketing and selling trucking software and freight brokerage software to small to medium sized business is because I like hearing about the “leap.” I liked hearing the story of the hard working man and woman, taking a bold leap into their own business and trying to change their lives.

It’s very personal for me, I know first hand about the leap because at a time when conditions were least favorable for me and my family, some 14 years ago I took the leap to start my own business. Just me, putting up my own shingle as a “consultant.”

A dreaded consultant because, “those who can’t do, consult,” right?

Well, for me it was exactly the challenge of the perception that I wanted to address. In one year, I acquired 7 clients and played active roles in their businesses. It was to the degree that at the end of the year, I had doubled my income from the previous year and had been offered executive roles with two of the leading businesses in Canada.

More importantly, for me it had me thinking in a new way about business. I learned to embrace risk more readily. I learned to think like an owner. I learned to move more forcefully and quickly to effect change in a business.

But the biggest thing I learned was this:

It’s the customer. It’s the customer. It’s the customer.

You get into trouble when your customer is “everybody” or “every business.” You get into trouble when you haven’t chiseled out your offering for a specific target market, in a universe of multiple offerings. You just have to define who you serve. And you must stay laser focused on their needs and adapt to change in their situation, over the short and the long term.

Inevitably as time goes on, a business deviates in some way from that imperative, gets caught up in systems and processes built on top of policies and procedures that don’t add value to the customer experience.

You begin to look through the lens solely of your product, or the way things have always been done,  and through the way the business conveniences the lives the staff. In my consulting gig, I would go in and assess the business, speak to its customers, speak to the staff, and then ask the owner why he started the business in the first place. It was always the same in that the business had strayed from its ‘core belief system.’

A business was started because an owner could see some hole in the market, some customers not being served adequately or treated inappropriately by the company for whom the owner had worked for previously. They got the gumption to say, “I could do it better myself,” and then they took the leap. And years later, it ended up in a bit of a morass with a group of unhappy customers and demoralized staff.

It’s the customer. It’s the customer. It’s the customer.

Every day I sell and market – to help our customers – those emerging truck companies, those break-out brokerages – take the same leap that I once took. I am just happy that I have some solid trucking and freight brokerage software to help them out.

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