Change the Way You Look at Your Business

Change is inevitable and it’s happening faster than ever. Over his 35+ years in the transportation industry, Chuck Moyer has learned to monitor trends in the industry and to forecast the ones that will have the greatest impact.

Chuck is a Board Member of the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association (CLDA) and CEO of Express Courier, Inc. (an LSO company) which operates a fleet of over 2,000 vehicles and 52 facilities.

He has spent 37 years in the transportation industry, 31 of them in the same-day sector.  We asked him how he’s learned to surf the waves of change over his career.

Question: With change coming so quickly, how do you know which trends to react to?

Answer:You have to study the industry and the trends that may be game changers.  Then you need to plan and position accordingly.  Some changes signal the need for an immediate and strong action plan.  Others may have an impact in the future. These changes require that you follow them to understand the potential downside as well as to envision the opportunities that will be available when they hit.  That way, if the change happens faster than you expected, you’re not starting from scratch to adjust your business plan. More often than not this will provide you with a competitive advantage. Business management is all about striking the right balance at the right time. 

I talk to a lot of business owners and I can quickly tell whether they’re mastering that balance.  Some only focus on today. Others only focus on yesterday or tomorrow.  You can’t do just one of those.  It’s about understanding which changes will be significant impact factors for your business and when they will occur.

Question:How do you determine if something’s going to be an impact factor for your business?

Answer:An impact factor is any change that can have a direct effect on your business. Any change can create an opportunity or potentially be devastating to your business. 

For example, it’s clear that 3D printing is a change that will impact everyone’s future.  But, the real question is whether or not it will have a significant impact on your business today or tomorrow.  You can’t know the answer if you don’t follow the trend.  On the other hand, if a new competitor is coming into your market, that’s considered an immediate impact factor.  That’s a change that could be devastating if you don’t position your company properly.

Think about the impact of the Check 21 Act allowed for check imaging in 2004. It meant that the need to transport those checks was drastically reduced.  We knew it was coming, but for most of us in the industry it was still disruptive.

The bottom line is this: you’ve got to know which changes could transform the landscape and which ones will have the most impact on your business.  You need to look at all the impact factors and determine which could be devastating and which could create opportunity.

Question: How do you get your hands around which impact factor to react to?

Answer:You have to understand that each of these is an opportunity.  Change is going to happen and positioning your business correctly could provide a competitive advantage. When I look at the trends that could impact our industry, I pick the top few and put them in my “Opportunity Bucket.”  Then, I prioritize them based on impact and estimated timelines.  If I position my company properly, I could have significant growth because I adapted to them based on sound business practices. Think of ecommerce.  Clearly, it’s at the top of a lot of companies’ lists.  It clearly has the potential to have a positive impact and prepare for.  At the same time, it also has the potential to be devastating for organizations that don’t prepare for it properly.

If you look at your company’s Opportunity Bucket and you prioritize those impact factors, it gives you the vision to develop both short-term and long-term strategy.

Question:  Why not just focus on the future and do your planning for the long-term?

Answer:You don’t want to be a company that does nothing but look at future changes and neglects what’s happening today.  On the other hand, you don’t want to only look to the past because those lessons may no longer apply today.  You need to learn from your past, seize opportunities for today and position for tomorrow.

Question:Talk about the key trends that we should be preparing for.

Answer:I’ve identified four: responding to rising consumer expectations; making the most constructive use of data; taking advantage of device mesh and finding ways to respond to the increased need for security. All of these changes are driven by technology. The companies that use technology to make sound business decisions will drive efficiencies and enhance the customer experience.  They will be the big winners. 

Question:Let’s talk about changing consumer expectations.

Answer:Consumer expectations are affecting the whole supply chain model.  Historically, it’s been a push model.  The suppliers pushed their product to the consumer.  Ten years ago, if you bought something you didn’t think about when it would arrive.  You accepted what the supplier told you about when you’d get it.  Now, when you buy something you immediately look at how fast you will I get it, what it will cost to get it faster and who else could get it you faster and cheaper than the first supplier. That means that today’s consumers are pulling it through the supply chain. Amazon and others have created those expectations.  Certainly, the Millennials assume they’ll get this level of service and they will soon be the largest purchasing group.

Question: You mentioned the need to make the most constructive use of data.  Talk about that.

Answer: In tomorrow’s world customers’ expectations of when and where their packages will arrive will escalate.  When you look at technology through that lens, you see how companies like Uber are setting a whole new expectation, and you know this trend is going to escalate.  With Uber, you can not only see the driver’s picture, you also know where he is and when he’ll get to you. Amazon Prime Now has gone to a whole new level when it comes to satisfying this hunger for information.  For certain items like groceries, electronics and lawn and garden supplies, you can order online for delivery within a two-hour window. We have it in my area.  I order from a list of items using my phone.  Then, I get a text when the driver leaves the facility with it.  I can see where the driver is via GPS tracking on my mobile device and when he gets to my exit the system sends me an alert that the driver is a few minutes away.  I can step out on my front porch and watch the driver arrive within seconds.  When you have companies raising customer service to this level, the rest of this industry is going to have to rise to those expectations.  If you and your competitor both deliver on time, but one delivers this level of service that’s the company that’s going to win.  It’s all about using technology to enhance the customer experience.

Question: What is “device mesh” and how does it apply to our industry?

Answer:Device mesh is when all of your technology devices are able to share the same information.  It’s integrated data across systems and devices.  So, when somebody scans something at the warehouse or a driver puts something in the vehicle, that information is available to the entire supply chain through devices that are approved by the company.  It brings it all together.  This will include information from wearables, dash cams and GPS devices.  That data will become more useable and sharable to help improve operations and the customer’s experience.  It will also accelerate change in the future. 

Question:What about the impact of security concerns?

Answer:Security and terrorism are impact factors today.  You can look at them as threats to your business or opportunities.  Clearly security is on everyone’s mind.  If you can implement certain items to respond to those concerns, it will present opportunities.  Like all trends, if you look at these issues and understand how you can position yourself to take advantage of them, what may look like a negative initially, can turn into a game changing opportunity.

Question:What other trends do you see coning down the road that could have an impact on our industry?

Answer: I’d advise keeping an eye on these additional changes:

  • Developments  in China
  • Self-driving vehicles
  • Amazon’s push towards doing its own deliveries
  • Fluctuating fuel costs
  • The political environment.

In short, I say to stay informed.  Keep up with the trends.  Open your mind to the possibilities woven into those trends, prioritize these opportunities, keep track and adjust accordingly.  But don’t lose sight of the balance and make sure you’re doing the basics well.

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