By Michael McKinney, CTB
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
--Peter Drucker, Founder of the Drucker Institute
Why would a shipper work with a small company like AM Transport? It’s a valid question; after all, we compete with multibillion dollar behemoths who have vast financial resources, dirt cheap pricing, the latest gadgetry, and seemingly endless hiring budgets. You might even think the behemoths hold all the advantages. But you’d be wrong.
You see, when I have the opportunity to talk about the benefits AM Transport offers, I always come back to our great culture.
Sure, the hardline skeptics will tell you culture isn’t a benefit--that culture is too vague and intangible to be measured or defended. I argue otherwise because the effect culture has is real; I’ve experienced it. In fact, I believe a company’s culture is perhaps the most telling indicator of the value they bring to the table.
“Who we are matters more than what we know or who we want to be.”
--Brene Brown, Author of Daring Greatly--
The other day I had coffee with Connor, one of our long-time team members and posed this question, “What makes us different from our competition?”
Connor paused, raised his eyebrows, and looked at me. I could tell he wondered if the question was a trick. I’m pretty sure he thought the answer was simple, so what the heck was I getting at?
After a second, he said, “When a customer calls AM Transport, they know they’ll get someone on the phone who knows them. They know when they call or email they’ll get a quick response. Customers know we care about their business and are committed to getting the job done. That we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days/week. They know we have highly talented and trained people and low turnover. That we’re high energy and eager to serve because we have a great team and atmosphere.”
He went on but I think you get the point. Connor was talking about culture!
“A hallmark of a healthy, creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candour, if unchecked ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.”
--Ed Catmull, Co-Founder of Pixar Animation Studios
and President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios--
It all starts with culture! You see, the right culture breeds a team that cares about each other, their customers and their carriers.
So, let’s break this down a bit. How does the culture at AM Transport translate into real, tangible benefits for our customers?
We’re a happy bunch! What’s happy got to do with it--come on, we’re talking about business? Quite a lot if you look at the research. Over at The Happy Manifesto, Elinor Schmitz-Jansen breaks it down. She claims that happy people are more creative, accurate and have better analytical skills. Furthermore, she highlights how happy people handle adversity with aplomb, take fewer sick days, and are better negotiators. Research indicates that happier people are more productive and provide better service! Finally, happy people stay!
If we look at the happiness factor a little more closely, you’ll see why culture is important.
Everyone’s talking about creativity these days, but is creativity really a big deal? After all, we’re here to move freight, not write poems. Let me assure you, the importance of creative thinking cannot be overvalued. A culture promoting creativity promotes innovative ideas and quick decision making. Our team members have the autonomy and authority to make on-the-spot decisions for the customer!
We all know that in the transportation industry, adversity is the name of the game. Our team members aren’t afraid of adversity. They are great problem solvers. Sure, we enjoy those difficulty-free shipments that go off without a hitch, but we don’t shy away from challenges. In fact, we thrive on finding solutions!
We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service. We care about our customers and get to know them. But we also know and have great relationships with folks all along the supply chain--logistics managers, warehouse personnel, consignees, and over 10,000 carriers. Our ability to cultivate relationships translates into great customer service all the way around.
Let’s talk about retention for a minute. All the research shows that a good company culture means people stick around. Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly says that human beings are hardwired for belonging. If you belong, you stay. People who stick around have more experience, more know-how, more relationships, more skills.
“Company Culture is the product of a company’s values, expectations and environment.”
--Courtney Chapman, Product Manager, Rubicon Project--
Here’s the deal--culture matters. It matters a lot. If you’re not convinced--think about this for a minute. The big guys promote a culture of competitiveness among and between their employees who are always looking at the bottom line and concentrated on the top dollar--for themselves. They have to--it’s the nature of the beast when you’re looking out for number one. Instead of working together, employees compete--your freight is just a vehicle, if you will, for someone else’s drive to the top.
At AM Transport, we work together. Always.
We truly believe that who we are makes everything we do better.