How I can help you
Looking back over my several decades in motor freight sales, business and transportation management,I wish that I had taken the time, as you are now doing, to investigate and develop a SCORE mentor/client relationship.
When I decided to cut the economic umbilical cord as a salaried and expense supported employee and branch out on my own it was a time full of uncertainty yet great anticipation.
While I had accrued valuable career skills through education ,hands on training and my work experience as well as the development of valuable client relationships,I spent many of those years trying to develop enough courage to make the transition from company employee to entrepreneur.
Metaphorically,I was unsatisfied just "cutting bait ,I wanted to fish on my own". In many ways, the decision to leap was all about circumstances and timing and quite possibly that is something to which you can relate.
The saying"Necessity is often the mother of invention" became a reality or me. As a result of a company merger and my subsequent layoff ,I decided that i would take the lemon (of having just lost my job ) which life had just handed me and start making lemonade. If I was ever going to realize my dream of doing my own thing, now was the time. I was fifty years old, had a son in his third year of college and a new wife and I could not wait any longer to get moving. Accordingly it was time for me to implement my idea of starting my own freight logistics business.
Although I had a great set of ideas to improve existing freight transportation methods, I soon learned that it takes more than just an idea and a leap of faith to make something happen. I asked myself: Starting a business takes money . How was I going to finance operating capital that would allow me to hire qualified vendors to service my prospects? Did I have the skills to negotiate an equitable lease to provide office and warehouse space to establish an operations base ? Could I develop and market a niche service product to provide an income stream to support the above ? I knew I could. After all, its what I had been doing for others for the previous twenty years.
I was scared but also hungry. I developed a workable business plan and learned to wear many hats. I was determined to succeed. Fortunately,my experience as a national account sales person and then as a regional operations director for several nationwide trucking firms allowed me to develop a strong customer base. It was indeed a challenge to convert prospects into our new customers listed on our dispatch record,. It did not happen overnight. I had to be patient yet persistent.
I soon realized ,on my dime, that just because you throw a line out , there is no guarantee you'll catch anything worth keeping. I also remembered that If you have a dream, you also soon realize that it's not just a monetary investment that is required but regardless of your enterprise ,success requires putting forth personal capital such as perseverance, sweat equity, and dedicating yourself to doing whatever had to be done. As a startup, I knew that setting a good example was crucial and accordingly we adopted an internal code of ethical standards to insure integrity and fair play for all. I did my best to apply those standards regardless of the relationship whether it be it with a prospect,customer,vendor or employee.
I also learned that while daring to be different is imperative to get noticed, planning and execution ultimately decides who swims and who sinks.
One by one, former customers who said they would support me actually did. In the end,the essence of my career in freight transportation and logistics management was all about effective communication and attention to detail. These are required attributes regardless of the business type that you elect to start and are absolutely q requirement going forward.
As my own enterprise, I developed a recipe for consistency of service and stuck to the plan. I took ownership of our customers shipments and treated them as if they were our own;in essence they were as we had promises to keep.
As the business grew and I could afford to become an employer both myself and my employees were the first to speak up and take a proactive rather than reactive approach so that a timely remedy could be offered. Good or bad we all had to take ownership of whatever came our way.
Success did come but it wasn't instantaneous . We never operated the business as if we had all the answers .When mistakes occurred we turned them into learning opportunities. Unlike a manufacturing business which makes and markets tangible goods, and wherethere is an opportunity to correct customer dissatisfaction in the product in the form of offering a repair or a replacement or a refund to address a customer complaint. Ours, being an intangible commodity, did not have that luxury. Accordingly, we developed the "dirt foot" acronym as our operating mantra; D.I.R.T.F.T which simply stated was "Do it right the first time".
Experience taught me that error cleanup is both expensive and time consuming. That's not to say that there were never service issues because we were always up against unknowns such as driver illness,mechanical breakdowns and unpredictable weather issues which could occur no matter how well we pre-planned. On rare occasions, we forgave any charges if it was warranted and the delay was a result of our misstep.
While external growth was and is always important, we could not grow the business without recognizing the importance of existing customer satisfaction and retention.
Lastly,it was never about observing a 9 to 5 work schedule. As my wife could well attest, there were numerous times where calls home were made to advise that regrettably, I would miss dinner simply because an issue occurred that required immediate attention and could not wait until the next morning. Weekends, holidays were often interrupted but in many instances those interuptions often led to a new opportunity.
If you have an idea and high ideals, myself or another of our chapter mentors will be glad to lend a hand. Regardless of what you do with your idea please remember that time is your most precious resource. Use it wisely.,take time to think ,take time to plan and then act deliberately as second guessing yourself only delays the process. Mistakes will be made, learn from them.
I wish you the best of luck toward your future business success and thank you for investigating the mission of SCORE. Please contact our local Susquehanna SCORE Chapter either by phone or email at the contact info line listed below.
SCORE chapter personnel will do their very best to refer you to someone who can offer worthwhile advice and guidance to help you on achieving your goals and moving on a pathway to success.
Mentor- Susquehanna Chapter of SCORE
Areas of Expertise
- Accounting & Cash Flow
- Strategy & Planning
- Marketing, Public Relations & Sales
- Transportation & Warehousing
Three years post high school secondary education.
1.5 years, Pierce Jr College,Philadelphia,PA 1966-1968
1 year, York College of PA ,York,PA 1968-1969
.5 year continuous business education and transporation related courses,GA Tech,Atlanta GA 1988-89
Karass Series Effective Negotiation 1995