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Reinventing a Business: Making a Drastic Shift in Strategy

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What do you do when you find your entire business changed practically overnight? 

For Dane Noyce and his team at Panhandle Express, that was the reality they faced in 2015. Seemingly overnight, they saw their daily activity drop by nearly 75%, and they were left with two choices: 

Reduce their asset base and continue with their existing business, or reinvent and redefine their entire business. 

They chose the latter. 

On this episode of The Road Forward, Dane sat down with us for a discussion all about: 

  • Reinventing their business after nearly a decade in existence
  • The process of redefining their business strategy
  • How their employee base reacted to the drastic changes they made

 

Reinventing their business after nearly a decade in existence

From 2007 to 2015, Dane’s business supplied transportation to the agricultural industry — Focusing on approximately 5 to 6 customers that made up 90% of the business. But one day, they went from having a guaranteed 200 loads week after week, to just 50. They quickly realized the need to redefine. 

 

What could be done moving forward   

During the strategy meetings to discuss what could be done, it came down to two options:

  1. Reduce the asset base and continue on with the existing business that was still profitable.
  2. Reinvent Panhandle Express by finding new customers that would help create a sustainable path forward. 

“We chose the latter. But it wasn't without a lot of tumultuous thought process.”

— Dane Noyce

With the decision to move forward with reinventing Panhandle Express, Dane set to work on setting priorities in order; and while most would assume building relationships with the new customers would be the first step, Dane decided to focus on safety instead. 

To make matters more complicated, there wasn’t a large window of time to make this shift — Only 180 days. In the end however, they were successful; and why? Dane credits it to his entire organization knowing and understanding the mission statement. 

 

The process of redefining their business strategy

While it’s clear to see that the strategy was successful, it is still an interesting choice to prioritize safety as the number one concern. The reason behind the choice: The industry decided for them. 

From 2015 to 2020, the regulatory environment and constraints of the CSA heavily influenced the decision. Beyond that, Dane knew that they needed a customer base that appreciated safety — Placing value in it and giving preference to those companies that value it as well. 

 

The symptoms of safety

Safety in itself is its own win since it’s keeping drivers safe on the road. But that doesn’t mark the end of the benefits. Dane mentions two of the biggest ones:

  1. Decrease to insurance rates 
  2. Increase to customer retention

For those that haven’t made safety a top priority yet, this is your call to action.

“We have most, if not all of the customers that we went and took on after our 2015 transition, we’re still doing business with them today.”

– Dane Noyce 

 

How their employee base reacted to the drastic changes they made

Despite the benefits, making safety a priority wasn’t easy. Dane breaks down the areas of focus:

  1. Tools: Teaching and explaining the use of new technology, integrating tools into the drivers process was a smooth transition.
  2. Mission statement: Using a top down approach, the company lived and breathed the safety priority. 
  3. Safety meetings: To make sure everyone was consistently on board, repeating events were set in place. 

With each of the three areas, it comes down to early and consistent communication with your team. If they understand the reason behind the change and how it’ll benefit them either in the short or long term, you’ll have a much easier time integrating a new mission statement or tools.

Embracing change means being able to explain the why, which should reside at the top of your company.”

– Dane Noyce

 

Getting started with safety

So, for those looking to follow down a similar path to Dane, he offers the following advice: Embrace barriers.

Regulatory barriers, performance barriers, driver attraction and retention — All of these things are hurdles that your competitors will struggle to overcome. Accepting the limitations will give you the advantage.


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