Small Business Review: Market adjustment

You must adapt to the unique characteristics of each area

The marketing approach that works in one location isn’t necessarily the method that will work in another. This statement is true whether you’re establishing a bricks-and-mortar retail business, a service provider, or a trucking company. Learning the uniqueness and similarities of a market is crucial to the success of any expansion into a new area.

There’s the obvious aspect of truck-to-load ratios that impact both the hauling rates coming into a location and rates shippers are willing to pay out of an area. Understanding this facet is extremely important; however, there are some things that you either know or don’t know that determine the level of prosperity for a particular location. In other words, knowing the price shippers are willing to pay is just one piece of the market puzzle.

  • What’s the culture of the area? Think of the differences between New York, New Orleans and El Paso, TX. We’ve all heard of getting it done “in a New York minute,” which is much quicker than a standard 60 seconds. In New Orleans, it’s more about who you know and if you belong than how fast you get the job done. In El Paso, the pace is a bit slower, it’s very family-oriented, and long-term relationships are established in the course of doing business. This isn’t to say that anyone you do business with within each of these cities isn’t expecting top-notch customer service, because they are indeed. But to establish the business relationship, you need to understand the culture.
  • What shippers require and want can differ from location to location. Some areas might be more conducive to LTL-type freight, or require a truck with a different configuration than what’s considered a normal highway truck. A good example is something being picked up or delivered within the Chicago Loop, where a trailer that is 53 ft. long, 13 ft., 6 in. high is unable to function because of bridge heights.
  • Check the needs of a particular area’s shippers by looking at what current trucking competitors aren’t doing. It might be as simple as consolidating smaller shipments from several manufacturers into a full truckload. This would provide each manufacturer with a lower shipping cost and at the same time maintain your carrier’s revenue requirements. For example, this could work in a region with a multitude of small organic farms that specialize in one to three crops. Several farmers could combine produce into a single truckload to the same destination. This would make sense for everyone, including the carrier.

Establishing a successful new market for your trucking company requires research to understand the different cultures, requirements and needs of each market you’re looking to enter. Consistency in how you operate is important, but having the ability to adjust to each market is also very important.

The better you understand each customer’s mindset, the more prepared you’ll be to fulfill their every wish. And that will bring consistent prosperity to your operation.


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