DIVERSIFY: GAIN A COMPETITIVE EDGE
“What are the best ways to develop additional and different types of business from my customers?”
In these current times of economic uncertainty, many transportation companies are looking within to both streamline process and expenses, but also are still thinking of increasing revenue and solidifying their place within their markets.
If you manage a courier, messenger, trucking or other kind of freight transportation firm, you have probably in the past pondered ideas like “What are the best ways to develop additional and different types of business from my customers?” Increasing revenue from existing customers is one of the best ways to grow a service business, as you have already defined the relationship with your customers and you have the basic questions covered such a customer’s ability to timely pay it’s bill, whether they are a good customer to work with and do they have ongoing growth potential, etc.
The thought of best ways to develop additional and different types of business from your customers really gets down to what new product lines or services you can offer them. That should lead to the inevitable question: What other services do your customers buy from other transportation companies? Are other transportation/courier companies in your customers’ facilities picking up items that you can’t? Do you get the small packages but they get the bigger ones? Will those competitors eventually take your work?
If you are currently offering just one type of service (like a downtown bike messenger business), you will have challenges in offering additional services without a major make-over of your company with new services (such as On- Demand cars and vans) to sell. On the other hand, if you are primarily a routed/scheduled type of service, it may not be a huge stretch to start offering on-demand or other services.
When considering what kind of services you want to eventually provide, you have to consider a few major items that will affect your potential. First, think of what you have as a customer base:
• What is my current account base? Are they primarily a certain industry like attorneys, mortgage or air freight companies?
• Do my customers have additional deliveries they give to other transportation providers? Do I do work for attorneys but won’t serve papers? Do I do work for hospitals but won’t do lab specimens in coolers?
Second, think of what you have available to you today in the form of underused resources:
• Technology plays an important role here, as you must be able to handle any new services you offer to customers competently through your dispatch and back office functions. You might also need a web portal for your customers to access. Do you have these resources at your fingertips too?
• What office staffing infrastructure do I have currently at my disposal? Do I have underused dispatchers? Do I have any after-hours dispatchers?
• What facilities infrastructure do I have? Is there underused dock or warehouse space available to me?
• What vehicle equipment do I have at my disposal, either owned by my company or supplied by a contractor?
For most companies, there are a good number of areas in which to expand into new service offerings. This is an incredibly diverse industry by nature, so it isn’t surprising that some of the most successful businesses in our industry are very diverse themselves. This helps them do as much business as possible with any given customer, raises the value of each customer relationship and helps the company considerably in lean economic times. Below is a list of what services companies in our industry commonly offer their customers, although it is in no way comprehensive. Look at how many of these your company currently offers and others that might have potential for you, based on your current resources:
• On-Demand Couriers & Trucks
• Bike Messengers
• Routed & Scheduled Couriers
• Parcel Distribution
• White Glove Deliveries
• Critical Parts Warehousing
• Bulk Warehousing
• Inventory Management
• Pick & Pack
• Crating & Packing
• Document/Media Storage
• Cross Dock Services
• First and Last Mile Service
• Dangerous Goods (Hazmat)
• Air Freight Pickup & Delivery
• Expedited Air Freight or Air Courier (airport retrieval)
• Next Flight Out Air Courier Services
• On Board Couriers
• Airline Baggage Delivery
• Court Filing Services
• Legal Process Serving
• Medical Specimen Delivery
• LTL (Less than Truckload) Services
• Trailer Loads/Line Haul Services
• Refrigerated Delivery Services (produce, seafood, etc.)
• Dedicated Fleet Services
• Replacement Driver Services
• Mailroom/Dock Management.
Now think a bit more outside of the box. You very possibly have a number or all of the following: dispatch staff, a modern comprehensive dispatch system, communications, offices, management, back office billing, collections and accounting. What else can be done?
Consider some of these, just for a start, which some transportation companies in the past have already done: taxis, limos, airport shuttles, answering services, private postal/shipping centers distribution/shipping center for online products (like eBay large distributors), and even armored cars.
So you have managed to land yourself in the transportation Industry, but as you know it is one of the most diverse industries around. The possibilities extend in many directions for expansion, and it is also not unusual for courier/messenger/logistics businesses to do well in tight economic times as customers look for options which often include contracting out work that is currently done internally. Which way are you going to go?