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Entrepreneurs around the world have been faced with a challenging business environment during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, many Landstar independent agencies and owner-operators saw 2020 as an opportunity to adjust their businesses for continued success.
When Landstar Agent Mary Tracey joined the Landstar network in early 2020, she primarily provided air freight transportation services to her customers. But as the year progressed, so did the needs of her customers. Tracey says her agency had to shift its service offerings to accommodate her customers’ new demands.
“Due to decreased capacity and the way airlines are changing, we’ve had to take a step in a different direction and start managing truckload, flatbed, heavy haul and specialized movements that we weren’t doing before,” explains Tracey.
Determined to be the best transportation source for her customers, Tracey tapped into Landstar’s support network to fulfill her customers’ requests. Expanding her agency’s service offerings has allowed her to accommodate her customers’ immediate needs, and has diversified her business for the future.
“The biggest driving force for us was to be able to provide different types of services to accomplish what they needed. We paid attention to our customers’ needs. The last thing we wanted was to not be relevant, to not be able to help the customer,” says Tracey. “We always want to make sure we remain as fluid as possible.”
Relying on Details & Relationships
For Landstar BCO James Morris, no detail is too small when it comes to operating his business. Morris says by paying close attention to his expenses, like insurance premiums, fuel costs, truck mileage and even cell phone plans, he found ways to cut costs in 2020. “I spent a lot of time reviewing everything business wise – nearly twice a month to see what I could do better, to operate more efficiently,” says Morris.
While his attention to detail helped him keep a close eye on his bottom line this year, Morris says it also helped him build and maintain more business relationships within the Landstar network.
“I prepared a fact sheet that I emailed to agents saying, this is the equipment I have, these are my capabilities. I also told them when I would be in their area to see if they could match a load that would keep me moving,” explains Morris.
According to Morris, “it’s the small details or the minor things” that left a positive impression and kept him top-of-mind with agents this year. “Without the relationships with independent Landstar agents and customers, I would just be another truck number.”
Adapting to the Times
As companies around the world transitioned to work-at-home settings in 2020, business owners also had to make quick decisions about how to operate accordingly. Shelley and Trevor Hagerman, owners of TH Logistics in Ontario, Canada, say their independent agency did not skip a beat.
“As entrepreneurs, we have to adapt in a changing business environment. That’s going to position our businesses for success,” says Shelley Hagerman.
With Landstar’s technology already incorporated into the agency’s daily operations, the Hagermans’ employees successfully transitioned to a work-at-home environment without customers experiencing any downtime.
Although they look forward to a time when they can shake a customer’s hand again, the TH Logistics staff found virtual meetings made communicating with long-distance customers easier.
“We meet virtually with most of our customers now, and it has all been very positive,” explains Trevor Hagerman. “Since there’s no travel, everyone just has to chisel out 10 minutes of their day to hold a meeting which would have taken up more time if we were to meet in-person.”
With a focus to attract new business for the agency, the Hagermans are confident their business will continue to adapt to the changing business environment. “This year has proven there will be challenges, but I think it’s really about how to deal with those challenges and learn from them,” says Trevor Hagerman.
Finding New Opportunities
Landstar BCOs Gene Antinori and Andie Perry are team drivers who regularly haul Arms Ammunition and Explosives (AA&E) and hazmat freight, but discovered new opportunities as a result of a challenging business environment.
“We changed our direction,” explains Antinori. “Instead of the common freight that we usually haul, we started to haul food products and personal hygiene supplies for a grocery store chain. Those were the supplies people needed at the time. Not only was it a good change in business, but it was also an opportunity to support people who really needed the help.”
According to the BCOs, the new opportunities would not have been possible without the relationships they’ve established with independent Landstar agents. At times, Antinori says, it meant hauling a load they would not have normally agreed to. Because they saw their regular agents needed extra support with customers throughout the year, they did what they could to help.
“We run our business by doing the right thing. Eventually, it will come back to us,” says Antinori. “Agents know that if we can haul it, they can count on us. We will be there. Customer service is what it’s all about.”
Road to Success Podcast
To learn more from these entrepreneurs, visit RoadToSuccess.Libsyn.com. Landstar’s Road to Success® four-part podcast episodes: Business Route 2020, are now available wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.