1. Follow the Donald . . . closely
President-elect Trump has promised to make a number of changes to both the domestic economic situation in the United States and to the current world order. As an individual who campaigned as an “outsider,” Donald Trump threatens to upend a range of current business practices. Keep a close eye on his trade policies, his efforts to boost manufacturing jobs in America, his government spending programs, his policies on climate change and on infrastructure spending. Initiatives in these areas would have an impact the flow of goods and services, on economic growth and on freight transportation.
2. Identify one area where there is a potential for freight cost savings in your company and initiate a program to make it happen
Chances are that if you have been following the same freight management policies and procedures for the past three or more years, you are missing out on an opportunity to save money. When was the last time you looked at the packaging of your products, at the geographic distribution of your customers, at the levels of service provided by your company and/or at the modes of transport that you use. Pick one area where you can help your company save the most money in the shortest time frame and then follow through to produce results.
3. Identify the weakest part of your Service Performance and try out a new carrier or LSP
Where is your company experiencing the most service failures? Why is this happening? Have you given your carrier or carriers ample time and notice to correct their problems? If you have, take a look at some new suppliers. Give them some test shipments. Carefully track their performance. If they provide consistent high quality service over a reasonable test period, negotiate hard to obtain good rates and better service than your incumbent (s).
4. Identify your biggest personal area of weakness and take a course to fill the information gap
Over time, we each become stronger in some areas and not as strong in others. To advance your career, you should always be working on addressing those skill sets that are in the most need of improvement. There are some academic institutions that supply good quality training in supply chain management and/or in areas such as sales or negotiation skills. A good New Year’s resolution is to upgrade your portfolio of skills in at least one area each year.
5. Join the best industry association in your area and attend a specific number events during the year
As part of your effort to upgrade your kills and knowledge, seek out the best trade association and go to one or two of their events. Carefully assess the quality of the information that they provide and the quality of the people who attend their events. If you have a positive feeling about the association, consider becoming part of their leadership team. This will enhance both your knowledge and network.
6. Maintain your network
Businesses are constantly changing. Companies are bought and sold. People move from one organization to another. It is good business practice to build and maintain your network of professional contacts. You never know if and when you might need them for job recruiting purposes. Contact a designated number of people in your network on a weekly basis. Expand your network on a continuous basis and keep track of your personal efforts in this area.
7. Call in your top three carriers and ask them for ideas on how to improve the efficiency of your freight operations
While you may take pride in running a lean, efficient, and effective freight operation, there is always room for improvement. One of the best places to go for advice and suggestions on how to improve your company’s operations is the top carriers that service your company today. Ask for a meeting with them. Ask them for suggestions on how and where you could become a more collaborative or carrier-friendly shipper. Be open to their suggestions. Where feasible, take action.
8. Determine the level of compliance tracking that you are receiving and put a plan in motion to get to the next level
Some of the new regulations that are going into effect (i.e. electronic logging devices) may constrain the operating performance of your carriers. If president-elect Trump is able to lead an economic upturn (i.e. faster GDP growth), this may make truck capacity tight. Some of these developments may have a direct, negative impact on your business. Make sure you are able to track load rejections, on-time service performance and other metrics so you can effectively manage your carriers’ performance.
9. Upgrade your freight management backup plan
As a New Year’s resolution, evaluate your supply chain backup plan every year. If your plant suffers some sort of catastrophic damage to its production line, computer system and/or telephone system, would your company be able to respond within a reasonable tight time frame. If not, this should be a priority.
10. Get more out of new and emerging technologies
We live in a very exciting era of change. The potential for driverless vehicles, drone deliveries, uber-type freight services, ecommerce, and other developments to transform and disrupt current business practices is real and enormous. As a New Year’s resolution, identify the one or two technologies that could have the biggest positive or negative impact on your business. Learn as much as you can and share this information with your management team. Make sure your company is a leader rather than a late adopter in these areas so it is not too late to get on the train.
The New Year promises to be full of surprises. Setting in place a set of well designed plans can help your organization survive and prosper during these unpredictable times.
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