Startup tips Startups

Don’t Be Simplistic About Logistics

It seems that everybody thinks they’re in the logistics business these days. Going from being “The tightest ship in the shipping business” to “We love logistics” doesn’t change what ‘Brown’ can do for you any more than wearing a helmet makes you a football player. Saying you’re in logistics doesn’t mean you are doing it well.

The idea here is this: logistics is far more complex than some companies would have you to believe. When your company is standing on the divide between breakthrough and failure, the wrong decision can push you the direction you don’t want to go. And as ironic as it may seem to an upstart wanting people to think differently, the best thing is to go with the proven performer and know that it will be done right.

Experience

Some people might try to paint experience in logistics as simple repetition of the same thing: Get Items 1, 2, and 3 from Point A to Point B. Repeat as necessary.

But real logistics companies know it’s not that easy. There may be a 30″ snowfall between Points A and B. Point B may have a power failure that necessitates redirecting the Items to Point C. And on and on.

When you are starting out, you only want to farm out the most specialized tasks. You don’t have the luxury of assuming that your many vendors and contractors can muddle through and make it happen. You have to know that your shipments, relocations, and communications are being handled by someone who knows how to navigate the unexpected, and that starts with having years of experience in dealing with those surprises.

Specialization

What would happen if there was some sudden trendiness with fried chicken, and your favorite local Mexican restaurant suddenly began offering their own take on it? You might try it, and some others would too. But few customers would enter the trusty old cantina with plans to order fried chicken. In time, the management would see that the fried chicken is a losing battle, and they’d go back to their old menu.

Logistics has become the trendy menu item lately. It encapsulates a lot of different tasks, so there’s always somebody trying to get into the business. But just as your hometown Tex-Mex won’t unseat the Colonel, the Johnny-Come-Lately logistics outfits won’t hang around long either. They are just trying to make some quick cash by jumping onto the bandwagon. In time, their lack of interest will shine through, and they’ll be back to their old menu.

Reputation(s)

Establishing yourself in business is difficult. You are judged not just by the work you do, bu the way in which you do it, and the inputs that you use. That’s why computers used to carry the Intel logo. Buyers wanted to know that quality components were used. If you print books, you’re judged not just by the binding but by the writing. A beautician is judged by the products she uses, not just by her work. So for a startup business, their reputation is closely tied to how they utilize outside services.

If your company is seen as being apathetic about contractors such as logistics, it will be seen as less professional and of lower quality.

And there is a reason for people to feel that way: It’s correct! A startup has minimal room for error. Every action you take reflects not just on your bottom line every 30 days, but on your reputation throughout that time. Rolling with one company for logistics just because they do other things well is a gamble. Stick with the proven performers, and you’ll become one yourself.