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How Well Do You Know Your Own Freight Agency?
This content was originally published by Landstar on Entrepreneur.com.
As an entrepreneur, nobody will have the same passion as you do for your business and it’s likely that everyone who knows you recognizes that. If you don’t know the ins-and-outs of your business though, that’ll be just as apparent to your customers, vendors and employees.
In order to sustain a successful company in the transportation and logistics industry, business owners should have a clear understanding of how their companies are operating, what the plan is to remain competitive, and how to withstand tough times. Landstar works directly with our network of independent freight agency owners to help them establish these business plans. While the plan is unique to every freight agency, these are the components we frequently assess throughout the process.
Identify Your Strengths, Own Your Weaknesses
Some entrepreneurs find that they are strong in sales but weak in operations, or strong in operations but weak in sales. Knowing your strengths and accepting your weaknesses will help you focus on the areas of your business that need the most attention, or need additional staffing or resources to fill in the gaps.
For those entrepreneurs who are stronger in sales, concentrate on establishing procedures and processes for your business. Documenting your plan could help keep you on task. Seeing your business plan on paper will keep you and your employees accountable for each of your responsibilities and can give you a level of confidence during unprecedented times.
For those entrepreneurs who are stronger in operations, practice your sales approach prior to reaching out to potential customers. Customers will be able to sense if you are inexperienced or nervous if you don’t build your sales confidence before the conversation. Working on your relationships with your existing customers will help you strengthen your approach with potential customers, too.
What exactly do you want for your company? Perhaps you’re looking to build a financial safety net, diversify your book of business, increase your revenue, or grow into a larger agency with more employees. Whatever your vision, you need to establish clear goals with tangible steps to reach those goals. It may be beneficial for you to get an outsider’s perspective, as long as this person is familiar with your company’s operations and the industry. Once your goals are set, make the commitment to fully invest yourself into your plan, measure your progress, and hold yourself accountable. It’s your freight agency and it’s not going to grow without you.
When it comes to your company’s revenue, don’t be in the dark – be in the black. Entrepreneurs should know how their businesses are performing on a monthly basis. Knowing how your costs compare to your revenue will help you scale your goals, prioritize your tasks, prepare for and minimize the impact of potential losses, and plan for the long term. If you’re not ready to evaluate your revenue on a monthly basis, start with a quarterly or year-over-year comparison, then work your way towards a monthly outlook. Your freight agency should have tools in place that makes this information easily accessible to you anytime, anywhere.
Take the time to get to know your staff and what drives them to perform. Your employees run the day-to-day operations of your company so it’s important for you to understand the best way to motivate them. While some teams may thrive well in a competitive environment, others may function better in a team-like setting. Some employees could be more motivated by bonuses, others could be incentivized with time off. Be mindful of the generational differences of your team members and how that may impact each of their motivations.
Your customers are busy so your communication needs to be very intentional. For example, your customer may prefer to be contacted via email instead of a phone call, but you prefer communicating by phone call. Accommodate to the needs and preferences of your customer.
Do you know what your customers’ pain points are and what sells them on a service – price, labor savings, reliability, etc.? If you’re not directly addressing your customers’ motivations, you could be missing out on business opportunities which could hinder your company’s growth.
Investing the time to really get to know your business could be one of the best investments you’ll ever make, especially as an entrepreneur in the transportation industry. To learn more about how Landstar can help you develop a business plan to build a successful freight agency, contact us today.