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Business Plan: A Roadmap for Success
The Importance of Creating a Cohesive Vision for Agency Growth
When Shelley and Trevor Hagerman opened their Ontario, Canada-based Landstar agency, TH Logistics Inc., the agents say, they didn’t have a business plan in place nor did they know how to get one started. But, they knew they could turn to Landstar for support.
“When Landstar’s Katie MacDonald met with us to help create our business plan, we focused on sales, operations, staffing and technology. By creating our goals very early on, we set up a strategy for our agency,” says Trevor Hagerman. “The process made us think about where we were coming from and where we wanted to be as independent Landstar agents.”
“It is easier to reach your goals if they are documented,” says Katie MacDonald, vice president of agent development for Landstar Transportation Logistics. “Ultimately, a business plan gives owners a more cohesive vision for growth. It allows entrepreneurs to look at their entire business and create a direction to obtain their goals.”
Often referred to as an entrepreneur’s “roadmap for success,” business plans are a way for owners to manage unexpected change and strategize for growth.
MacDonald and her team work directly with independent Landstar agents to create agency-specific business plans designed to support sales, staffing and operations.
“We offer agents a unique level of support in writing a business plan and act as consultants for their business as the plan is implemented,” says MacDonald. “When the process begins, we ask questions about the agent’s long-term vision for his or her business, long- and short-term goals, sales strategies and techniques, staffing and local or commodity competition. Knowing what you’re up against is an important part of planning.”
The Hagermans’ financial goals and the strategies to achieve them have evolved in the fluctuating transportation marketplace and as they’ve met certain milestones. However, 12 years since opening their Landstar agency, the Hagermans say having a roadmap for their business still provides the guidance necessary to drive their business forward.
“As technology changes to better serve our customers, our business plan changes,” says Trevor Hagerman. “Incorporating Landstar Agent Analytics and Pricing Tools have changed the game for our agency. These technologies give us valuable information specific to our agency and our customers. That data allows us to identify opportunities with our customers daily. We are able to see key performance indicators, set goals and spot trends in a very dynamic environment.”
An updated plan helps a business stay current. The plan should be updated depending on business needs - which could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. “Reviewing the plan will show the business strengths and weaknesses. When a plan is reviewed regularly it acts as a good indicator to the owner of what needs to be done to nourish their business,” explains MacDonald.
Independent Landstar Agent Nick Beaty opened his Alabama-based agency, Beaty Services and Consulting LLC, in 2016 with a strong book of business. However, two years after his agency was established, Beaty says his business plateaued, “We were feeling lost and didn’t have a solid understanding of what was happening with our customers.”
“In many cases, the key to turning a business around or giving it a jump start after hitting a plateau is to focus on the customer relationship,” says MacDonald. “Nick’s business wasn’t moving forward, so we took a step back and looked at what was happening. Reviewing year-over-year discrepancies, we realized there were some very easy things Nick could do to improve his business immediately. He needed to improve his customer relationships. To get new business, Nick needed to start directly planning with his customers for the future.”
By documenting his goals and putting more focus on his customers, Beaty says he almost immediately noticed a change.
“The business plan Landstar helped me create added much needed order and laid out the steps for future growth,” says Beaty. “Our business plan let us see that we weren’t nourishing the customer relationships we have. Now we constantly look at ways to extend other Landstar services to our existing customers. We’ve learned that nurturing the customer is essential for business growth - do not let your customers forget who you are and what you can do for them.”
The Hagermans also discovered the power a business plan can have in securing customer relationships.
“When we started planning around the goals and looked at better ways to support and nurture our customers, we created operations manuals for each customer,” explains Trevor Hagerman. “That manual details information on freight and customer requirements. Adding the customer manuals helped our employees with daily operations and allowed us to better support our customers.”
The Hagermans also applied that strategy to their staffing and sales goals. They moved away from an internal competitive sales environment, explains MacDonald.
“Our team works toward freight bill goals instead of individual revenue goals. The freight bill goals and rewards program that Landstar helped us implement has been a huge value to our agency because it has our employees working together for the greater good,” says Trevor Hagerman. “To bring more visibility to the agency sales goals, we created a daily freight-bill board which shows the entire agency where we stand as a team in achieving our goals.”
“It is important to regularly re-assess your business plan to review the performance and the strategy for growth,” says MacDonald. “Review of the plan creates opportunities for owners to make sure the business is still headed in the right direction – that it hasn’t gone down some side road that no longer takes you to your ultimate destination. And, if it has, the plan is a roadmap to get you back on the right path as the industry and your business evolve.”
To learn more about the opportunities and support available for independent Landstar agents, visit www.Landstar.com/the-landstar-network/agents/.