So, after 25 years in retail, wireless, and sales, I have spent the better part of 9 months building a relatively successful trucking business. My team and I just reached 19 trucks and 32 trailers, we should hit $3 million by year's end, and started with nothing on January 12th, 2018. Now, when I say nothing, we had some contacts and relationships, but not a single piece of equipment in our name at the beginning of January this year. One of my partners, had a trucking business for 10 years and amassed a 20-truck operation in that time, we will have done that inside of a year. Sound amazing? What's even more interesting is that we haven't made a real sales call yet, spent a penny on advertising or marketing, unless you include the few dollars I spent on our domain name that provided us a free GoDaddy website.
No, not a single sales call, no marketing, no advertising, nothing. And despite that we have grown at a rate of 50% to 100% monthly. And we still have line of sight to an additional 50% more business before I think we need to do any marketing or sales! So, what's the trick, what's the secret sauce? Relationships and customer service. We have built this business on a handful of key relationships my partners had and on our good name. I won't even say great name, because I wouldn't give us that much credit, I think we need to be much better. Our clients see our performance and want us to do more for them. Our success begets more success and we don't need to go begging for more business, they are throwing it at us. What a great problem to have, right?
So here is the kicker, when I started this venture, it was intended to be a side venture for a secondary stream of income. Now, it's a rapidly expanding operation that needs more fuel to keep growing. I feel like we need to open the furnace door and throw in more coal. I don't want to take this growth for granted, I don't want to miss the opportunity to capitalize on these options in front of us and I don't want to crush the organization with too much growth for our current infrastructure. Taking all that into consideration, I am thinking it may be time to introduce a sales team, or at least build a sales process and start making sales calls.
So with all this growth, why would I think this is necessary to add this seemingly unnecessary cost? Because of the length of time it takes to close deals in an industry like trucking, deals quite literally could take a few years to come together. From my experience in selling wireless B to B, it is not uncommon for a deal to be in the pipeline for months and potentially even a year while waiting for a contract to end and trucking is very much built on relationships. Week after week, month after month, touching base keeping in their line of sight, without being annoying, but reminding them you are there and willing and able to take over their business on a moment’s notice. This process served me well for many years, this may be a slower process, but loyalty and consistency always produced exceptional results during my career.
The key is timing, recognizing when someone is unhappy with their current provider or service solution, that's the time to strike. To do that, you must have adequate resources to capitalize on the opportunity, or at least be able to move very quickly. And you must perform at an exceptional level to be able swoon your new potential client that you can deliver what they want. I have watched my wife grow her title business and home warranty business over the last 15 years with that same approach. Initially making a meeting, building the relationship over weeks and months, just waiting for the opportunity to serve her client, even just once, to prove her worth. Then later, having some of the most loyal clients singing her praises of how exceptional she and her team are.
So, it is with this in mind, that I am beginning to consider our sales process. I will work with my partners and decide on a strategy that incorporates my background and experience with my partner's trucking industry knowledge and experience so that we can create a solid process that can be duplicated and coached. We will fine tune the steps and ensure we can get the intended results, then as we are comfortable that we have a handle on the process, we will look for the candidate(s) that will fill that void for us. Our goal is to double our business in 2019 and although I am fairly comfortable we can sustain that growth operationally, I need to ensure we have the sales capability to attain that growth now and not leave it to chance. Better to have too much business that I can either outsource or refer out, then to be sitting on equipment that is not generating revenue.
A final thought, I have heard enough of the pundits predicting a pullback in the economy and I have heard those that believe they know, say that any pull back in the economy is first seen in the trucking business. With that in mind, the constant Fed rate hikes pushing us closer to more expensive money, and that coupled with the continued growth of stock market, the odds of a pullback are seemingly on the horizon, likely in 2019. Considering all this, I want to get an edge on my competitors, if it has been that easy for us as a brand-new business to grow during this "high season", then they are likely comfortable and now is time to beat them to the punch.
Moral of the story today? Know the landscape of your business and industry, be familiar with your competitors, ensure you understand your sales processes, and no matter how good things are, NEVER think you crap doesn't stink. In business, you are likely just a slight adjustment from success or humility, never lose sight of that. And if you are "considering" if it is time to build a sales team for your growing business, likely, you already answered your question by asking the question.
Best of luck out there!