By now you’ve started on your new year’s resolutions, and hopefully, you’re sticking to them. “New year, new you” is a great mantra to help yourself improve. But have you mapped out resolutions for your freight business, too?
Whether you’re part of a small office with the same set of clients, or if you work at a larger firm where you don’t have much control over who your business partners are, there’s always something you can do to help your business improve.
Everyone is looking for growth, but you can’t expect new customers to line up at your door. You really have to work hard to find opportunity. The new year is a great time to hit the ground running. Here are five concrete actions you can take in the new year that will make 2019 the best year ever for your freight forwarding company.
Clarify your value proposition
What value does your company offer customers? What do they get out of using your service? What is it that you do better than everyone else?
Whatever that is -- if you have it -- is your value proposition, the one feature of your company that will get new customers to not only try you out, but keep coming back for their shipping needs. If you don’t know this already, you have to find it. If you can’t find one, it’s time to start asking some hard questions about your business: mainly, what do we do that actually helps customers?
Your company’s value proposition is so closely tied to its core strategy that it has to be perfectly aligned with the products and services you offer. Your value proposition is your strategic compass -- if you don’t have one, you’re lost at sea.
But let’s say you already have a value proposition. When was the last time you reviewed it? Are you confident that what you promised to bring to your customers is still achievable? Have you and your co-workers done enough to meet that promise? Or is it time to redefine what you offer?
Now is a great time to review your value proposition. Maybe your customers aren’t getting the savings per shipment that you think your business offers. Or perhaps the value is there, but you’re not communicating it clearly to your customers. Adjusting your value proposition is a small step that ripples through your entire organization. Take the time out now to review it carefully because the benefits of a value proposition that syncs perfectly with your product or service are immense.
Meet more people
The logistics industry is always having meetups, trade shows, presentations, and conferences across the country and throughout the year. If you want to grow your business, you have to get out to at least some of them. All your potential customers and partners are hanging out in one place. Why wouldn’t you want to be there? Collecting business cards in a hotel bar might sound old-fashioned, but trust me: getting out there and meeting people face-to-face is still a surefire business development strategy.
We’re a technology-forward company. We’re trying to make sending and receiving a container of goods across continents as easy as a couple clicks. But we know people move the freight forwarding industry, and getting out to industry events and meeting people in real life is vital to us. It’s not just a Rolodex builder: speaking to your freight forwarding peers will give you insight on what their most significant pain points are, giving you direct feedback on how you can improve your offerings to meet the needs of the people you’re trying to serve.
And it’s a great way to discover new opportunities. Find new partners face to face, or ask to be on a panel so more freight forwarding professionals can get to know you. There is no substitute for quality face time.
Seek out new opportunities
This one seems obvious, but the truth is that most freight forwarders ignore avenues to grow their businesses because they only think of “new opportunities” as “get more customers.” That’s undoubtedly important, but there are many other ways to improve your business beyond collecting clients.
Strategic partnerships are a great way to grow your business in the new year. In the logistics industry, this often takes the form of things like carrier contracts and co-loading. But it goes beyond that. Perhaps this is the year that you sign up with freight technology services that connect you to additional shipments or give you coverage across that trade lane you could never break into (more about this a bit more later).
Why not contact some of the most popular blogs and journals in our industry and see if you can offer a guest post, or perhaps insight on the latest logistics news? Or maybe 2019 is the right time to partner up with a marketing firm that could expand the reach of your business beyond the office park you share with a dozen other freight forwarders. A strong social media presence is a fantastic way to grow leads and position yourself as a trusted industry voice. It’s hard to find your initial followers, but once you’ve built up your base, it’s a fantastic way to get your brand message across.
Keep an eye on the news
Did you know the new deadline for US-China tariff negotiations is March 2nd? Or that some of the world’s top carriers and ports partnered to create their own blockchain-based freight management solution to rival the Maersk-IBM blockchain ecosystem? Do you know how oil sanctions are changing the profitability of trade lanes?
Keeping up with the news is incredibly important in all industries, and especially so in one that’s rapidly changing like freight forwarding. Not only is the technology in logistics constantly evolving, but geopolitical factors have a considerable impact on an industry whose highest growth potential is in international trade. Even paying attention to weather reports is essential: if your customer’s container is set to sail the Atlantic in September, it’s good to know that you’ll need to take extra precautions for hurricane season.
Every bit of news is information you can use to plan ahead, whether it’s for the next shipment or even the direction your freight forwarding business should be headed based on industry trends. So pay attention.
Find the right technology solution
Think about where your company is now. Maybe your container volume is perfectly balanced with the resources you have to take care of it. Or you’ve achieved the optimal use of resources for the revenue you're generating. That’s great!
But here’s the problem: if you want your business to grow, chances are the way you’re doing things today aren’t scalable. You’ll need more help collecting leads, negotiating with the right partners, discovering more business, and facilitating perfect shipments as you expand. It’s time to find the right technology solution that will both help you grow and keep your growing.
So how do you tackle these challenges? Hire more people? Well, that’s a burdensome ongoing expense that eats away your profits. But implementing new technologies? That’s a relatively small investment that is not only price-efficient, but also leads to sales that go straight to the bottom line.
Freight forwarding solutions are out there: documentation software, freight marketplaces, and rate discovery tools are all available, and you have options. You should consider signing up with some of these services in the new year, and especially the ones who meet your (updated) value proposition.
But it’s not just limited to freight management-specific technology solutions. If you plan on adding a lot more customers, customer relationship management (CRM) software could be a smart investment to help you save time and stay organized.
Or perhaps you want to get your rates into more inboxes. Sign up with an automated email marketing platform to get the word out about all the excellent benefits your company offers.
The last thing you want is to keep all your business resolutions and then discover that you didn’t plan accordingly for success. That’s why having the proper technology solution in place is so important: it’s the best way to make sure that the new year is the best year, for you and your business.
Make CoLoadX a part of your new year business strategy. Search rates for free today.