7 Ways to Grow a Trucking Business Faster Next Year

7 Ways to Grow a Trucking Business Faster Next Year

With the year winding down to a close, here are seven ways that you can “tune up” a trucking business for growth in the New Year.

7 Things that Can Help with Growing a Trucking Company

Whether you want to call them year-end to-do’s or New Year Resolutions, here are seven things you can do as the year comes to a close to position your trucking business for growth next year.

7 Ways to Tune-Up a Trucking Business for Growth Next Year

1. Taxes and Expenses

Now is the time to make sure that you have set aside what you need for tax payments for the year (month, quarter, etc.) Review the past year’s receipts, invoices, bills, and bank statements for potential tax write-offs.

It is also a great time to contact your tax accountant (or make an appointment with a local tax specialist for a consultation) to find out whether there is anything you can do now to minimize tax obligations or maximize the amount you hope to get back after filing your taxes next year.

2. Marketing and Advertising

What kind of marketing did you do in the past year to grow your trucking business? What worked well or what failed to produce a return? By identifying where your orders are coming from and taking steps to improve customer retention, repeat business and referrals, you will know where to invest marketing resources and money to grow faster next year.

Some of the questions that can help you determine whether to invest money and resources in marketing in the New Year include:

  • How do new customers usually find out about my trucking business?
  • How are competitors getting new business?
  • What characteristics do my most profitable customers have in common?
  • Based on these buyer profiles, where can I expand or launch marketing and advertising to help reach these buyers?

3. Industry and Government

Not only will you help your trucking business but you may even be able to help guide the future of the transportation industry by becoming more aware of the issues facing the industry and getting involved in organizations or by lobbying your local, state, and federal to express your concerns and opinions. Subscribe to a print or digital publication that can keep you in the know about what is going on in the trucking industry as far as best practices, rules, fees, and regulations.

4. Year End A/R Factoring Tune Up

If you are not already factoring freight bills, this would be an ideal time for you to reach out to a top transportation factoring company like ours to find out whether factoring freight bills would help improve your business.

Factoring freight bills allows truckers to get back on the road and take on new trucking business more quickly, since you get immediate access to money you have earned without waiting for customers to pay. We would be happy to provide you with a free, no obligation quote for factoring services, even if you are currently factoring your A/R (accounts receivable) invoices with another transportation factoring company.

If you are already factoring freight bills with another Factor, the end of the year is a great time for you to get a no-cost, no-obligation comparison from us to make sure that you have the best invoice factoring program in place relative to your organization’s financial needs.

5. Customers and Prospects

The holidays give you an ideal time to reach out to current and past trucking customers to find out whether your trucking business is doing a good job for them or ask how you could serve them better. This may even uncover new opportunities with existing trucking clients. In addition, take this opportunity reach out to your past customers to ask for referrals or let them know about any customer referral or returning customer rewards you offer.

6. Business Plan

If you have never taken the time to put your trucking business plan in writing, this could be an ideal time to do so. Having a trucking business plan on paper provides you with a snapshot of what your business looks like today as well as a vision of what you want it to look like tomorrow. You can even download a free business plan template from bplans.com to make writing your plan easier.

If you do have a business plan in writing (especially if it has been a while since you reviewed it), the year end is a great time to review and refresh your plan. Benchmark how you are doing (or did) compared to the goals laid out in your plan and update it with your current position and goals for next year.

7. Employees, Vendors and Peers

If you are a trucking owner-operator, you may not have staff, but you probably still have a vast network of peers, vendors, suppliers, brokers, and other contacts in the industry. The year end is a great time to reach out to these valuable stakeholders and let them know what you plan to do in the New Year to grow your trucking business, so that they can do a better job of helping you reach your goals.

In addition, this might be a good time to review vendor and supplier contracts. Double check that they are fulfilling the obligations they laid out, touch base on anything that isn’t going as well as you would like, or even reach out to other vendors for competitive quotes. It is not always about the lowest price! To grow your trucking business faster, you need to be sure that you are receiving a good value for what you spend to do business.

While we cannot believe that the year is almost over, nevertheless the year end provides a good opportunity for many carriers and owner-operators to assess how the year has gone, execute year-end checklists and look for ways they can improve their business in order to be more profitable and grow in the New Year.

Supply Chain Business Innovation – 5 Ways to Grow

5 Ways to Innovate a Supply Chain Business

Every supply chain business must innovate in order to keep customers interested and add new customers to the fold. Here are five ways distributors and manufacturers can innovate and improve in order to grow.

Innovation Helps Manufacturers and Distributors Grow

Companies that fail to innovate can quickly become obsolete, and that applies to supply chain organizations, too. But introducing new products is not the only way to get the attention of customers and grow. Rather than simply waiting for growth to occur as a natural outcome of an improving economy, supply chain manufacturers and distributors should actively look for ways to innovate if they want to grow more quickly.

5 Ways Manufacturers and Distributors Can Innovate to Grow a Supply Chain Business More Quickly

Introduce product innovations and evolutions

Manufacturers that are committed to internal continuous improvement are far more likely to be able to introduce new products more often as well as upgrades and improvements that lead to additional sales. Likewise, distributors that source upgraded or improved options for their customers will have more opportunities to resell to existing customers and bring new accounts on board.

Innovate the account management process

Like consumers, more and more B2B buyers expect to be able to reach out to a knowledgeable sales or account professional online, day or night, even outside of a company’s regular hours of operation. These same buyers also expect that supply chain organizations will facilitate the means for them to order online, track shipments and progress, set up automatic re-ordering, pay invoices and otherwise manage their accounts online, without ever speaking to a company representative if that is their preference.

Introducing account management innovations today’s customers have come to rely on can mean the difference in landing new accounts and generating additional sales as well as creating customer dependencies that make it less likely they will shop around or defect.

Innovate manufacturer and distributor delivery methods

Perhaps more so than any other distributor, supply chain giant Walmart has modeled the pursuit of constant innovations when it comes to manufacturer and distributor delivery methods. Like consumers, B2B buyers are coming to expect shipping costs to be included in pricing up front and for that delivery to occur quickly.

While you may not be in a position to scramble an army of drones or facilitate same-day or next-day delivery, anything you can do to cut costs and decrease time customers spend waiting for their orders can help you compete.

Innovate your marketing approach

What words would you use to describe your marketing copy and channels? When it comes to marketing, there is no reason your marketing cannot be innovative, engaging, entertaining and intriguing – even – and especially – if your products aren’t. Innovating your marketing approach through:

  • publicity stunts
  • social and cultural influencers
  • social media and press mentions
  • wins in ‘best of’ contests
  • revitalizing your brand’s visual image and taglines
  • telling customers about your brand’s values and corporate social responsibility programs

–  are all examples of ways to infuse new life into your marketing.

Ensuring that your brand is ‘alive and well’ in digital media channels (email marketing, social media, blogging, etc.) will better help you reach the new generations of Millennial and Gen-Z B2B buyers that are replacing retiring Baby Boomers.

As a supply chain business, you can also help create demand from your buyers by stimulating demand directly among their customers. We recently published an article that describes four ways distributors and manufacturers can generate demand by marketing to consumers and end-users, rather than simply marketing to their own buyers.

Innovate the company culture

“It is what it is,” is a phrase that is often uttered along with a shrug of the shoulders, indicating a fait accompli; or, in other words, a thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept. In some ways, company culture is “what it is,” in that it cannot be faked. But just because it cannot be faked, does not mean that it cannot be improved.

Innovations and investments made to improve your corporate culture, when genuine, will often produce impacts far greater than improving employee satisfaction. They can improve hiring outcomes, reduce employee turnover, and increase employee engagement, all of which have a direct impact on improving sales and decreasing costs. Marks for customer satisfaction, loyalty and referrals are also much higher for brands that are known for their innovative corporate cultures.

Innovating within your manufacturing or distribution company may allow you to serve new customers, but that’s not all.

Innovations also send a clear message to existing customers that your business is committed to making continual improvements for the future. It creates a spirit of intrigue among your customers about what might be coming next. They will be more likely to see your supply chain business as a valuable partner in the supply chain, and as a result, offer you additional suggestions that can help you innovate more effectively and quickly.

Taking proactive steps to innovate can even put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to change. As a manufacturer or distributor, leading the way by innovating puts you in the position of being a leader, rather than a supply chain business that must scramble to keep up with the companies that are driving change in the industry. As Steve Jobs so wisely said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

 

purple light bulb with plan and strategy as the message focus

Supply Chain Marketing – 6 Traits of Successful Marketing Plans

Bring these six supply chain marketing strategies to bear in developing a supply chain marketing plan for a manufacturing or distribution business.

While your plans are likely to include both short term marketing strategies and long range strategic goals, the values that guide your plan should not change. We came up with six traits that characterize successful supply chain marketing plans. Keep these principles in mind as you evaluate strategies that can help with growing a manufacturing or distribution business.

6 Keys for Supply Chain Marketing Plan Success

S – Service

Unless you have an exclusive product or are the only distributor of a product for which there are no real substitutes, it’s likely that your products – in and of themselves – are not the most important reason that people should choose to do business with you.

A supply chain marketing plan that revolves around the idea of service – the effective solutions or unique added value that your business or sales professionals are able to offer your customers – is more likely to produce compelling calls to action, marketing copy and advertising.

U – Urgency

While the supply chain industry is constantly evolving and products and services are always entering and leaving the marketplace, your particular area of manufacturing or distribution expertise may be one that rarely changes, evolves or produces innovation.

Whether your business falls at one end of the spectrum or the other, your marketing plan must create a sense of urgency among your buyers in order to stimulate more sales. If your customers never have anything to lose by waiting to buy from you, there is little motivation for them to take action more quickly.

P – Persistence

Sales representatives have to make an average of 6 contacts to sell a product or service (33 Cold Calling Statistics). One email, one phone call, one networking event, one tradeshow — it is going to take more than one attempt to make contact with your decision makers.

Make sure that your supply chain marketing plan is not reliant on campaigns that need to hit the target on the first try. Plan for marketing campaigns to be played out over time and across multiple marketing channels.

P – Proactive

How well do you understand the buying cycle or customer journey of your supply chain business? The extent to which you understand what occurs at each phase of the buying cycle and design customer experiences that will help prospects move to the next phase of the customer journey will affect the bottom line when it comes to conversions.

If your supply chain marketing plan does not move prospects through the buying cycle effectively, you will have to generate many, many more leads to fill the sales funnel in order to meet your revenue requirements or grow your manufacturing or distribution business. Refining the buying journey at every step is essential to increased conversions and ROI (return on investment).

L – Leverage

The word leverage means to, “use (something) to maximum advantage.” As you brainstorm potential tactics, calls to action, advertising and marketing campaigns, those areas where your business has competitive advantages and supremacy should be used to your organization’s maximum advantage.

Rather than trying to compete in areas where your competitors have already made a name for themselves, look for a niche or value-add that creates a competitive advantage that will be persuasive and meaningful to members of your target audiences. Do not assume that prospects and customers understand the benefits of working with you.

Y – Your One Thing

Your “one thing” is sometimes called a USP (unique selling proposition) or UVP (unique value proposition). In terms of your supply chain marketing plan, your one thing is the single-most compelling reason people should choose to do business with your organization instead of your competitors.

Your ‘one thing’ might be something that sets your products apart. It could also be something unique to your manufacturing process, your corporate values, or even the overarching vision of your business.

Writing a supply chain marketing plan is no small task, especially when it comes to the marketing strategies you hope will help you grow your manufacturing or distribution business to the next level. We created an acronym from the word “supply” with six important things to remember as you develop the marketing strategies and tactics you plan to put into action.

Although the supply chain has benefited as the US economy continues growing in the post-recession era, it is worth noting that logistics, manufacturers and distributors that have a strong supply chain marketing plan in place stand to benefit most. Now is the time to write a new marketing plan or revisit your organization’s strategic long range plan in order to identify areas of opportunity, carve out competitive advantages and strengthen your business.