Our first thought to this question was, “Not much, really.” Why? Well, many customers today only care about, “What have you done for me lately?” One bad experience can destroy a business relationship even if you’ve delivered excellent service the previous ninety-nine attempts.
But upon further reflection, we’ve “remembered” a few things we’ve learned -
It means that you’re still in business – Pat yourself on the back; you must have done something right to be in business this long. Seriously. I believe that statistics show that the vast majority of new businesses are no longer going entities within the first three years. For the Harvey Holdings, Inc. suite of companies, I feel that we’ve survived the good and the lean times. You have to be careful in the good times, because it’s easy to take your focus off what is important and it’s easy to forget your responsibility as stewards of the company (financial, relational, spiritual, etc.). The lean times are when you find out your true character. These are the times when you find out who has real faith in God. These are the times you figure out what the word perseverance truly means. We consider the fact that we’re still in business after 108 years a true Blessing from God and we are thankful for His abundant bounty.
It means you’ve had to reinvent yourself – Every business model has a shelf-life, and it’s shorter than we’d like to admit. Henry Ford offered the Model T in any color as long as it was black. But if he hadn't changed his offering, there would be no Ford Mustang today (wouldn't that be a shame?). I’m not sure that S.R. Holland could have envisioned how his company was transformed from horse and wagon, to powered tractors, to partnerships that span the globe; but he knew and we know that you must constantly re-evaluate your service offerings if you are going to survive beyond today.
It means you have previous experiences to draw from to create unique solutions for your customers – Many companies talk about “thinking outside of the box.” But you have to know what’s “inside the box” in order to think outside of it. We know what’s inside the box – we have experience with small, medium and large customers; even Fortune 100 companies. In one instance, we worked with a Fortune 100 company and culled down their 30+ page contract to two pages. That’s thinking outside of the box. Our warehousing company has offered our customers floor space, racked space, pick and pack, assembly, break-down, and consolidation – pretty much the full spectrum of services. We can drop trailers at shippers and receivers. We can receive in your product by the truckload and deliver it to you by piece or pallet. We can move your product from point A to point B anywhere in the world. We are blessed by the Almighty to have experience as far back as the horse-and-buggy of Holland Brothers Trucking in 1908, all the way to today, where we now offer the full 4PL spectrum of services.
It means you realize that “Partnerships” are the only business relationships that last - Whereas it’s important that your business focus is “customer driven,” if your customer is all about me, me, me, then the relationship won't last. Either the customer will demand they “win” each and every aspect of the relationship (time, focus, price, etc.), or the provider will be unable to meet the customer’s demands; in either case, both scenarios deteriorate into a lose-lose outcome. We've been blessed to form long-standing partnerships – we have multiple multi-decade business partners who are our mainstays in good times and bad. Neither partner “wins” each and every time, but neither do they “lose” each and every time. And we don’t go our separate ways because of a couple of service failures. We’re transparent with each other and share a business integrity not always seen in today’s cut-throat business environment.
It means you’ve had several long-term employees throughout the years – If you’re employees come-and-go like Sunday morning at the I-HOP, you're business probably will not be around for a long time. It takes those 10 and 20+ year employees to “bridge the gap” of changing business climates. These employees help to maintain a positive business culture. They also maintain the intellectual capital that is so vital to a business’ survival. Granted, it’s good to have new employees with a fresh set of eyes and new ideas, but you must have a remnant of long-term employees or you’ll spend all of your time rediscovering who you are. We've been blessed with 25+ and 40 year employees here at the Harvey Holdings, Inc. companies.
Most business owners would say, “YES” if asked would they want their companies to survive for a hundred years or more. And whereas longevity in the business world takes some luck, those companies who survive year after year are around because they were intentional and strategic in their planning for the future. Take some time and work on your business (strategic focus) instead of in it (tactical focus). God Bless!
Gene is the Vice President of all the HHI Companies. Gene strives on a daily basis to live and love like Christ. His favorite hobbies include reading, running, and resting. Gene seeks peace, joy and contentment in all circumstances and is a great leader for our companies!