One rule of business is to keep moving forward, slow down or stay where you are and it all starts to go wrong. Any business needs to develop constantly, adapting to the commercial climate. There just needs to be a flexibility built in to be able to make changes quickly and keep up with trends.
The transport industry is, in essence, very conservative, we really don’t like change that much. If we did, we wouldn’t keeping harking back to the ‘good old days’.This is surprising, as we work in a dynamic industry which has to adapt constantly to new rules, rocketing oil prices, new types of customer etc.
Some of this conservatism comes from the fact so much of the industry is based on family businesses. In this case the pressures for change also come from the tensions between the different generations.
Most of the successful trucking businesses grew out of the explosion in road transport after the government regulation and restrictive practices of the fifties dropped away and the baby boomers started running trucks in a free-for-all during a long economic boom through the sixties and seventies.
Many of those businesses are now in the hands, or about to pass into the hands, of the next generation, Generation X. Again, this group of trucking people are still quite conservative and attack problems in a fairly traditional way.
Talking this week to a young couple who are just starting out their journey in the transport industry, I was struck by just how fresh their thinking about the business was. Both have come from other industries and have no preconceived ideas about how to go about things.
In fact, the strength, of the business plan they have, is the difference between the way they approach people and present themselves, when compared to the traditional players in the industry. They understand the demographic they are targeting and look at the job from their point of view. The result is a solution which is fresh and very successful. The business is growing fast, just on word of mouth.
OK, they are just small niche players in a particular area with specific needs, which the transport industry isn’t fulfilling in a satisfactory way at the moment. However, there are plenty of these little holes to be filled, plenty of opportunities for the boutique business to get a foothold in the industry.
This is the kind of philosophy the trucking industry needs to take into account, and, perhaps, bring in its thinking. This is a new dynamic generation who aren’t going to sit around and wait for the oldies to pop their clogs.
Are they Gen Y, or Millenials, or something else? The fact is we don’t need to give them a group name, we just need to engage with them, take new thinking on board and give them a chance. Other wise they may be coming to get us.
This is not something to be sniffed at. New technology and new thinking is forcing big changes in the way business works. Just look at what Uber is doing to the taxi industry and AirBNB is doing to the hotel and accommodation game.
Thinking outside the box is always going to be a healthy idea, for any enterprise. Things may be going quite well at the moment, but it’s always a good idea to keep a weather eye out for what’s out there and understanding just what is actually going on.