This post is an update to this one from last week about the new realm my business may be entering.
After a week of analyzing information seemingly non-stop during long hours, we suddenly seemed to hit a point where we all felt like we might have bid on enough volume and enough lanes to just scale back from what we had. Then we had a wonderful conversation with a woman we had met at the conference who, despite being a competing bidder, had a great willingness to help us understand the process. I realize there is risk in trusting someone who is competing with me, but I think she realizes she has no hope of getting it all but would prefer to be competing against people who know what they're doing (which in her mind seems to be people who underbid drastically on price out of their ignorance).
That conversation left us very encouraged that we did not need to scale back at all. We also learned a great deal about the process of how awards would be made, and then how those awards would actually be given to us over time - something we were completely in the dark about. Instead of the award becoming a great source of concern (if we got too much, would we be in a lot of trouble), it became even more of a hope for the potential this new line of business would mean for our company. The process of awarding and actually placing business sounds like a wonderful new door for us to be opening because we have never had such a direct line to our customers, something that lets us know several days in advance what to expect from them. We are much more used to what they call the "spot market" where loads are covered the day we become aware of them. Having something to look ahead makes the job of our sales group - called brokers or dispatchers - much simpler because they know what they need to get covered for our customer and just need to find a truck to do it. Once that truck is under a given load, then the dispatcher can work on loading that truck when it arrives at the eventual destination, which is still an easier place to start from than we are in most cases right now. I really felt encouraged when we learned that even if we get awarded a small number, we might actually be given more than our award because it was easier to give out more loads than to go back and renegotiate with everyone if their volume increased. I would love to be someone they give extra business to after the fact. All in all, this new business could increase our efficiency and volume, and thereby our bottom line. We are very excited to see where it leads us.
This week we have spent most of our time reviewing what we've bid, reviewing contracts, and basically making sure we are confident that we are bidding proper amounts at good prices. We got a little bit of a scare yesterday when I happened to read a seemingly innocuous statement that meant my pricing calculation was off by an aver of $75 a load. I'm glad I found it now instead of later, though. Today we'll be deciding if we should change our prices to make up that money or leave them alone. The bid process finalizes a week from Monday (they added a week as of yesterday), and then we get to wait. A month later, the awards will come out and we will decide to accept or reject what we're offered. As we often say in this business, it's "Hurry Up and Wait" time.