(Editor’s note: This is the third of a four-part series that will appear each Monday. The series is by Kevin Rutherford and will promote ways to be successful in your broker relationship.)
Larry Winget, one of my absolute favorite authors and speakers, has a quote that is the essence of what I want to talk about. “Discover your uniqueness. Learn to exploit it in the service of others and you are guaranteed success, happiness, and prosperity.”
If we look at the first part of that quote, “Discover your uniqueness,” I did that by reading the book “Standout” and then taking the Standout Assessment. The book and the assessment tell you what your strengths are and what your uniqueness is. I have built my business around those strengths and what makes me unique. I’m not going to get too deep into this, but basically there are nine strengths that you can have in the Standout Assessment and your top two are the ones that make you unique. For mine, I am what in this assessment is called an influencer and a pioneer.
So how do I provide unique value to my customers? I look at my strengths. What do I have that is unique to me that I can build on? In the definition of a pioneer in this assessment, it’s the person who is always looking for the next new discovery, the next great product, the next breakthrough and then is willing to go out on the ledge and try it, use it, and see if it really works. Out on the cutting edge, which can also be the bleeding edge when things don’t work well. Somebody has to be out there and that’s me. I love that. I thrive on that. I’m really good at going out and researching and finding those things and then learning and understanding them and then helping other people understand them. Taking hundreds of hours-worth of research and boiling it down in a way that people can understand it much easier without going out and doing all that research. That’s one of my strengths and it shows up on this test every time I take it.
My other strength is that I’m an influencer. Well that’s what I do every day. I talk and I try to influence people to listen to the research that I’ve done. Even if there’s 10 other opinions out there, I believe that my uniqueness and my strength is my ability to communicate to people in a way that makes them want to listen and makes them want to learn. By putting those two strengths together, that’s what my business is all about.
That’s what I do every day and I have been fairly successful at it. I still get up every day and try to figure out how I can be better at that.
Let me give you just one example of how I did this as an owner-operator. When I was very young in the industry, 23-years old, I was an owner-operator and leased to a company called Spartan Express. They were owned by Roadway, a very small, family-run company out of South Carolina. Roadway bought them and they moved them up into the North. This was a P&D job, pickup and delivery, and my first job two weeks out of driving school. I bought a truck for $7,000 from Roadway, it was a ’79 White Road Boss with a 6V 92 in it. I worked in about a 100-mile radius and would do anywhere from 15 to 30 stops. Fifteen stops would be a slow day and 30 stops would be slammed, that would be a 15-hour day. That’s what I did and that was a tough way to get started in the business after just two weeks out of driving school. You have to hit a lot of docks every day, you have to fight a lot of traffic every day, and some of those docks were places that over the road trucks just never even go to. Tiny little old buildings with little docks, it was challenging to say the least. You’d get there in the morning, you’d pick up your bills, and if you had 10 deliveries you’d have 10 bills. You’d look through them, figure out which order you’re going to go, and then go down and look in your trailer to make sure everything was staged the right way — many times it wasn’t.
You’d want to go to one stop first but that freight would be buried in the nose and you’d have to either take the time on the dock to move your freight around or you’d have to adjust your route. It was a great way but a very tough way to get started in the industry. I learned a lot quickly.
Once you took off and you started making your deliveries, then the pickups would start getting called in that day. Companies that were in your area would call in and say they had three pallets to pick up that would be ready by 3 o’clock and that was all over the board. So, at some point you had to be in touch with dispatch. Well, there were no cell phones yet. When I first started, the way that they would get your pickups to you during the day was you would have to call in when you were at these other stops or if it was an emergency the freight dispatcher would try to figure out what stop you were going to and he might call and try to leave a message. You may or may not get that message, it was a lousy system and it didn’t work very well. There was a problem there and we missed a lot of pickups.