Adaptability and strategic thinking are crucial to stay competitive in the ever-evolving world of logistics. Mike Riccio from More Than Miles Consulting led a recent session at the Trimble Insight conference, "Strategic Operations: How to Weather the Storm of Decreasing Volumes and Rates," with practical advice for how motor carriers and logistics companies can stay ahead of the curve in a tough market.
Mike Riccio is a seasoned industry expert who co-founded Leonard’s Express in 2001 in Farmington, New York. His career in sales and business development helped grow the asset and non-asset transportation company to around $350 million with more than 900 employees and 600 trucks.
Most recently, Riccio concluded a term as the chairman of the Transportation Intermediaries Association. He kicked off the session by emphasizing that transportation and logistics is not just about moving goods from point A to point B; it's about forming strong partnerships, utilizing technology effectively, and always having an eye on the future.
Building Strong Relationships
One of the key takeaways from Riccio's session was the significance of building strong relationships within the industry. He emphasized that relationships are one of the few things you can control in this dynamic industry.
“You can control your messaging to your customers, and how you react to them,” Riccio said. “In times of uncertainty, about 80% of your business revenue comes from your current customers. So I would focus on that customer experience.”
Whether you're a carrier, broker, or shipper, forming partnerships leads to growth and success. As an example, Riccio shared his personal experience of building a strong relationship with one of his main competitors, who delivered loads for Leonard’s Express in New Jersey. The story highlights how trucking and logistics companies can’t be “everything to everybody,” he said. Building trust and collaborating with partners, who might even be competitors, can unlock benefits for all parties involved.
Optimizing Your Technology Stack & Automating Repetitive Processes
In today's fast-paced logistics environment, technology plays a pivotal role. Riccio encouraged companies to regularly review their technology stack and identify the gaps. It's not just about having the latest and greatest tools; it's about ensuring that you're utilizing them effectively. Unnecessary tools can be costly, so it's crucial to assess whether each tool aligns with your business goals.
Visibility and speed are two critical factors in logistics. Technology, including driver apps, monitoring tools, and route optimization, can significantly enhance these aspects of your operations. Riccio emphasized that it's all about improving communication and visibility to ensure your logistics processes run smoothly.
Another significant insight shared by Riccio was the importance of automating repetitive processes. Technology can handle many tasks more efficiently than humans, freeing up valuable time and resources. However, since computers can’t account for everything that experienced staff knows about transportation and operations, it's essential to strike a balance between automation from AI-powered tools and human decision-making, especially when it comes to pricing and customer interactions.
“AI is moving at lightning speed. It's really hard to keep up with it and figure out what's really sexy and cool versus what's practical,” he said.
Additionally, maintenance is an unavoidable aspect of the logistics industry, but predictive analytics can help reduce future maintenance issues, saving both time and money. By identifying potential problems before they escalate, companies can minimize costly downtime and keep their fleets running smoothly.
In today's competitive landscape, leveraging technology can provide a significant competitive advantage. Riccio highlighted the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in analytics and decision-making. AI can provide valuable insights, helping companies make informed choices and improve their win ratios.
Expanding Your Market Reach While Staying Customer-Centric
Expanding your market reach doesn't always mean going after the biggest players. Riccio advised looking at smaller to mid-sized companies that might be overlooked by others. These companies often present opportunities for growth, and forming partnerships with them can be a win-win situation.
But, while growth is essential, Riccio stressed the importance of staying customer-centric. It's not just about what you can offer; it's about understanding your customers' needs and making them look successful. This approach leads to long-lasting relationships and customer loyalty.
The Value of Partnerships
Finally, Riccio spoke about partnerships as a way to overcome industry challenges. By forming strategic partnerships with companies that complement your services, you can bridge gaps in your capabilities and expand your market presence.
In conclusion, Mike Riccio's insights from the Trimble Insight conference shed light on the changing dynamics of the logistics industry. The key takeaways include the importance of building strong relationships, optimizing your technology stack, focusing on visibility and speed, and automating repetitive processes to build competitive advantage.
By embracing these principles, logistics companies can not only weather the storm of decreasing volumes and rates but also position themselves for long-term success in an ever-evolving industry.
We will continue sharing valuable insights and key takeaways from Insight 2023 over the coming weeks – keep your eyes on our blog for the latest updates! View all of our Insight 2023 coverage here.