“You need friends in business” Jim Ramsay from Hooker Pacific declared to the RTF conference last week.
One of my customers put it another way, “transport isn’t our only division, but it is the one with the highest costs and the highest compliance – it is the one we need to focus on the most.”
Having just got back from the RTF conference as I write this with all of the RUC, VDAM, H plates, ORS, RIDs, CoFs and other letters re-imprinted in my mind, it occurs to me that the first “friend” you need in this business is an interpreter…
Jim is right though, those initial years setting out with CCS Logistics so many years ago were hard, despite my qualifications and years of experience with big UK operators, establishing a business in the NZ transport industry was an uphill struggle.
The difference was made by those who believed in me and were there to watch my back and give me a leg up when the opportunity arose. More than seven years on, the CCS Logistics business is growing steadily and employs a team of great people – something that would never have been achieved without those “friends.”
In this industry where they tell us the freight task will double, but advertise trains at the expense of trucks, encourage environmental responsibility, but make HPMVs and over specc’d trucks for fragile freight difficult and / or expensive… yes you need friends.
This is evident in the slow amalgamation of smaller transport companies into larger entities, and is also evident in the relationships which I see our customers developing.
This is the generation where successful operators are increasingly sticking to their knitting. If you are good at running trucks, focus on that and surround yourself with others that can feed you with the information that you need – whether that is market intelligence or operating data from your fleet.
Data is important to make good decisions. In fact data management has recently been touted as the number one priority in continuous improvement.
This being the case, choosing reliable partners in this area has never been more important.
In some ways it has never been harder either. Even just in the GPS world, there are more suppliers than ever (30+ operating in NZ). Unfortunately many of these, you don’t want on your team.
People I want on my side, are those that I can form a personal connection with, who I can respect, who give more than take. At CCS Logistics we have seen more than our fair share of GPS suppliers who have dived into the market and their sole focus is to sell as many units as they can in the mistaken belief that this is the fast track to mammoth profits. I am sick and tired of those suppliers – they market features they have not yet started to develop, they get distracted part way through the development of something and leave it unfinished and they defend their product without checking its performance first. This is probably the most frustrating part of the CCS Logistics’ job.
The most rewarding is when, despite such supplier generated hurdles, we are able to support you by diving into your data to find answers when you want to understand why one truck is outperforming another, or introduce a driver incentive programme, or demonstrate your safety profile at insurance renewal time.
Investing time in to the relationships that we have means that when you need to call on them, your “friend” will instinctively know what you need, not just what you are asking for.
To me, this is the essence of a good partnership. Two experts who coincide when required, to deliver a good job. As an operator, you will know more about running trucks than the other people on your wider team of “friends”. But they know stuff about things that you don’t want to understand so when the team comes together, it will make your business a success, and that should make theirs a success too.