A Logistics Company Evolved
Supply chains have been in a state of constant upheaval for almost two years now. We had two choices: Evolve or die.
In March 2020, after the nationwide lockdown from the Coronavirus pandemic had ended, demand for daily household living essentials drove increased retail sales through much of the Spring. As people settled into their new working environments at home, demand for things to improve at-home life hit an all-time high. Things like electronics, fitness equipment, and office furniture quickly flew off the virtual shelves of online retailers, and were nowhere to be found in local retailers. Many of us learned at that time just how fragile our supply chains and freight transportation systems really were.
By July 2020, many drivers near retirement age had finally left the workforce for good, and freight transportation had become a hot commodity in itself. Companies paid what they had to in order to move their freight through the July 4th weekend, but then a funny thing happened: Rates, which historically came down never did, and capacity that typically returned to meet supply was unable to recover. Freight capacity demand and the freight spot market took off, and haven’t looked back since.
Weeks and months went by. Then 2021 showed us the meaning of pain, as demand continued to increase, while supply chains desperately tried (and many monumentally failed) to keep up. Add in some really nasty hurdles, whose “nicknames” are enough to make some logistics experts cringe (“Uri”, “Ida”, “Dixie”, “Delta”, “Omicron” and “Ever Given”, to name a few), and now you have the beginnings of a Stephen King novel written for supply chain managers.
Now, after almost two full years of precedent for this “new normal”, it’s not just the guys in the trenches that are concerned…
In the past six months, our office has begun working with some pretty substantial clients, for no other reason than that their other transportation partners have left them high and dry. I’ve personally seen many “dormant” customers come back to life, pleading for help to figure out how to navigate this “new norm”. While we strive as an organization to live in a mindset of “surplus”, many of us found our bandwidth and other resources to be so strained by rapidly increasing client needs that we unintentionally started to take on a mindset of “scarcity” and began to turn away some clients that needed help.
That was the red flag.
We knew we had something special to have been able to succeed and thrive as an organization for ten consecutive years, but now we had hit a wall. In our account management meetings, we came to realize that we weren’t just turning away customers, but we were also not able to give time and effort to help solve the deep supply chain issues our customers were increasingly facing. We were becoming plain “freight brokers”… We realized we needed a change.
The vision we originally had for the direction of our company was to “create a better experience” for our customers, and we found that we couldn’t do this if our senior consultants were fighting fires all day. We decided it was time to return to that mindset of “surplus” and get to a place where we could spend time where it mattered most: With our customers. New staff were hired, departments were reorganized, and even a handful of job descriptions were shuffled around. Change is frightening, even for an organization that culturally embraces it, but the thought of losing our purpose and identity (and eventually our customers) was far greater.
With redoubled efforts to increase customer interaction, and a refocused vision of our purpose as logistics consultants, we’re back on the right track and helping our customers get in front of the craziness that has defined the past two years for them. Time will tell what 2022 will bring, but as an organization, we’ve never regretted a decision made in the interest of creating a better customer experience.