Do you plan to move mountains?: Align your logistics networking the goals for your company
Many independent forwarders are working in small niches and many are in smaller family businesses and are not interested in taking on the world but I think that I am not far off the mark when I say however that most independent international logistics companies equate profit and growth and are keen to have more of both. But guess what? Unless your name is Kind Midas there is no easy path to the gold. It is there for everyone though but to go down this path you’ll need to have mature expectations for your business. If you want success within a network much of the advice that I will give is tactical. This advice today is stategic. And it is simple. I recommend you and your company need the following:
- Vision / Goal
Let’s go over these.
Vision / Goal
The owners of the company should have this one sorted even before they open the company’s doors. Without it they are just opening a company for the sake of having a company. What do I mean by this? The directors of the company should know exactly what market they are in, how they can serve this market differently (or better or both) than their competitors. They need to know what resources (personnel, financial, etc.) they need to do this. And they need to have a realistic idea of where they plan to take the company over a selected period of time so they can set targets and measure their progress.
The company needs to be keeping in mind these targets that have fallen in line from the goal setting and they need to review what they are doing regularly. Even on a daily basis if need be. Otherwise the company will get off the path. Pursuance of these goals also will involve perseverance. Nothing is achieved without some resistance. Much of what you try to accomplish will involve struggles with all sorts of external and internal forces. It is easy to go off track. When that happens it is perseverance that allows you to get back on track and keep goal when the goal seems yet far away. It keeps you going through difficulties and delays.
Change is the only constant. But that doesn’t mean that you abandon your goals. You will need to make changes in what you do and how you do it to continue along the correct path. Change for change sake is never good when pursuing a long-term goal but change to get around obstacles or to take advantage of opportunities that won’t stray you from your overall path are always good.
If you don’t have all three of the above your position is already hampered to the point that any long-term achievements should not be possible.
So what does this have to do with logistics networking?
Everything you do in a network should be considered with these three points in mind. When you are looking at the network and deciding who you should work with you should keep in mind that these companies should be in harmony with what your company is trying to accomplish. For example, no matter how much a company wants to work with you, if your overall goal is focused on an area that is secondary at best to their direction then eventually you'[d do better finding someone else.
On the perseverance side of the ball is clear. Stick with it. Even though companies who join networks should do their best to funnel as much of their new business as possible through the group they have joined it still takes time to build up a significant volume within a network. I can give an example here myself. When I was owner of a freight forwarding company before, we joined a network. After the first year new business that came to us from the network amounted to about 5%. I was disheartened and felt jipped. I went to the general meeting anyway. After the second year the figure grew to 24%, which was not an insignificant amount. By the third year we getting over 40% of our new business through this network. I sold my shares in the company after that but I’m pretty sure the numbers didn’t come down from there. You have to stay the course.
As for adaptability, Ben Franklin said that there are three types of men. (I’ll paraphrase it): The immovable, those who can be moved and those who do the moving. When chosing agents never chose the immovable. You’ll be dead in the water for obvious reasons. You’ll need to decide whether you prefer those who can be moved and those who do the moving. Make the decision based upon your company’s vision. Only then you can hitch your wagon.
If you follow this loosely laid out strategy for all of your networking, I promise the network will never let you down. You will move the mountain!
Before I close I just wanted to mention that today I found out that our members actually are reading these write ups first hand. It’s kind of funny to me but I have had e-mails, contacts on LinkedIn and people who I have met at conferences and exhibitions mention the write ups to me but for the very first time, and it was today, I actually had a member say to me that he reads this every week and does his best to follow the advice that comes from this column. That has given me enough of a charge to keep me going for a while! (Thanks to Mr. Simon Sun.)