Staying alive as a business in a crazy world (and beyond)
Did you know that many long-time companies were created for a different purpose than what they serve today? Many long-time tool makers and other manufacturers were blacksmiths when they started at the turn of the 20th century. And other companies have adapted their products and services to fit the changing needs of their customers.
Others, however, have not. Did you know that the last Blockbuster video store is now an AirBnB with a Blockbuster theme? The video store that was wildly popular just a decade or two ago is no longer relevant. They failed to change their business model and therefore went out of business completely.
At On Time Logistics, we started in 2007 as a courier service. Then electronic documents became a huge thing and fewer people needed our services, but other types of deliveries became needed, especially as e-commerce started to emerge. Interestingly enough, courier services of various types have started to find their way back as people have wanted a more personal touch and trust in hackable electronic systems started to wane.
As a company, however, we’ve moved towards meeting the ever-growing demand of being a final-mile delivery provider. In fact, we usually refer to our people as residential delivery specialists, because their role is so much more than driving to a storage place or other business and dropping off packages.
Our ability to adapt, all while keeping our core values in place, is why we are not only still in business, but why we are thriving with two locations in Northwest Arkansas, one location in Little Rock, and a presence in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
No matter what business you’re in, it’s vital that you “adapt or die.” We’ve seen this several times throughout COVID where companies saw the need for their usual products or services decline, so they figured out what people did need and started providing that. Some examples include distilleries making hand sanitizer, vacuum companies making ventilators, and many restaurants and even bars figuring out family-style and take-home options.
Our industry has been hearing and talking about a “responsive” instead of “reactive” supply chain for several years but that ability to nimbly respond no matter what part of the bigger picture your business holds is the only way you will survive. Whether it’s a retail store figuring out how to do e-commerce to final-mile delivery providers figuring out how to get more packages to more places on time, you must respond rather than react.
What does that mean, really? Reactions are usually an almost startled response that implies catching up to a situation. Responses are usually making a course change or reply that is in line with company capabilities and core values. You can’t plan for all things (we don’t think many, if any, people saw this big of a problem caused by a virus coming), but you can have a plan in place for how you will go about responding to issues that arise.
Part of being responsive is also not “putting all your eggs in one basket.” Have multiple ways of getting your goods and services. It’s also important to use as much automation in place as you can so that when something happens, all you have to do is tweak your technology and plan. Finally, part of adapting is simply being flexible. Don’t get in the mindset of “that thing we do is gone or too hard now. We have to stop.” Your company was founded by an entrepreneur at one point or another who was meeting a need. Keep that entrepreneurial spirit alive and learn to pivot.