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Solving the Problems of the Carrier

19th February 1954
Page 58
Page 61
Page 58, 19th February 1954 — Solving the Problems of the Carrier
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

You Want Traffic?

Then. . .

Go Out and Get It!

IHAVE received a request to deal with getting business: a concise but effective answer is: " Go out and gct it." That is a complete answer so far as the newcomer is concerned. If his vehicles are not too large to be used in this way and they arc not all fully engaged, it is not a bad idea to go out and call upon prospective customers in one vehicles the service of which is offered.

In the case of an established operator who feels that he could do with a little more tonnage, it is often sound to advise him to embark upon some carefully planned scheme of advertising.

The problem involved is one of some magnitude and it frequently happens that the questions relating to it are so vague as to make it difficult to give a simple and direct answer. It is possible, however, to treat the subject in a broad way which will be helpful to all concerned and yet not be so abstruse as to be beyond the understanding of those who arc entirely unacquainted with advertising.

lf,we go back to first principles, the problem of advertising is simply that of making the existence and business of the advertisar known to those who might make use of them. It would be a good idea if those who have the problem in mind began to think of it in that way, by saying to themselves:" I want to make myself and my business known, but it is necessary for me to do that only to those whom it concerns; to those, that is, who may like to make use of the services which I have to offer." of the

How Much to Tell

A little time devoted to thinking along those lines before anything is done will, in all probabilitY, save money and result in an effective plan. The first thing to do is to decide, precisely, what there is about the business that it should be profitable, for the time being, to make known. In the case of the man with one or two lorries who specializes in one line of business, this decision is soon reached. He wishes to announce that he has those vehicles available for hire for certain defined types of haulage.

The man with several vehicles who does not necessarily confine himself and his activities to any particular traffic may find this problem solved for him because one of the various classes of businesses that he conducts is lacking in interest—hc has no customers for it, or more likely he • has some but not enough to keep that department of his activities fully occupied. That, presumably, is the one he would like to boost. It is the availability of his services and his vehicles in that particular line which he wishes to make known.

The next thing that must be considered is to whom publicity must be directed. Assume that the haulier has several interests, that he is concerned in a variety of types of haulage and that he would like the scope of all or any of them to be extended. In that case, the appeal will have to be made on broad grounds and is decided to some extent in accordance with the peculiarities of the district in which he resides and in which, therefore, he naturally expects to find the majority of his customers.

In such circumstances, the haulier is clearly involved in turning his knowledge of the district to good purpose. He will, presumably, be sufficiently acquainted with it to know 1524 what class of business is most likely to be available. He should, in addition, have some information as to the prospects of extension of any particular trade or industry in connection with which haulage facilities are necessary. Then, of course, there are those transport needs that are universal and are to be found wherever a haulier may be.

He has now reached the point of having decided what service he is going to offer and to whom those offers are to be made. The next point he should consider is the particular form his offer should take. The haulier should try to discover for himself something special in this service, something which, in his view, distinguishes it from similar facilities offered by other hauliers in the district.

Every haulier with a natural 'pride in his business has something of that kind of which he can make capital in this connection. His vehicles may be speedy or may be designed in some special way to be particularly adaptable for the kind of traffic for which he is searching. He may have taken particular care to insure fully all goods carried against loss or damage in transit (all hauliers should do that but there are still many who do not). He may be particularly well acquainted with the technical aspects of the traffic he is after and, therefore, be particularly able to handle it to the satisfaction of the customer. On the other hand, he may be conveniently situated for the collection or delivery of loads of a special nature.

Never Decry a Rival One point, however, I must make and that is that there must be no " knocking " of a competitor. No good purpose ever comes of decrying the wares of a rival. Such a policy invariably reacts to one's disadvantage.

The next factor to which the haulier must give attention is the importance of linking his business name, his own name or the name he has adopted for his company, with all his publicity matter in such a way that the special advantages which he features when advertising come naturally to the mind of the reader with that name.

If the contractor is running his business in connection with some special name not his own, then, unless that name has already been chosen and is widely known, he should select one which comes easily to mind and easily distinguishes his business from anyone else in the same line. A man with a name like Smith, Jones or Robinson suffers from the disability that the iteration of his name conveys nothing to the hearer; in such cases a special business name is almost essential: it would at least be useful and helpful in connection with any scheme of publicity.

All publicity does not involve expense, or, at least, it does not necessarily mean that the advertiser must spend anything more than may justifiably be involved in the prosecution of his business. For example, the first and most useful medium of publicity for a haulier is his vehicle. He has in that an advertisement worth many times the expense of the initial painting and lettering and the careful maintenance that follows.

The appearance of the vehicle should be designed to attract the attention of potential customers. Maintenance should be directed towards keeping that condition closely approximating to that in which it left the bodybuilders A well-finished, well-maintained vehicle is worth the price of several hundreds of posters or other advertisements.

Incidentally, and as an aside, I should like to dwell upon this particular aspect of vehicle maintenance. Let me be presumed to be correct in my belief that a smart and wellturned out vehicle and driver are valuable means for advertising which should never be overlooked; and that applies no matter what may be the department of haulage in which the operator is engaged. That so many machines and drivers are the reverse of being well-kept and smart is not refutation Of this argument. On the contrary, it may be taken as a proof.

Most poorly maintained vehicles arrive at that state because their owners are not efficient businessmen and are not in a position to give good service. They obtain work by cutting rates. Because they cut rates they have not sufficient margin to enable them to pay for the proper maintenance of their vehicles or to take care that the driver is always smart. Even if the driver is actually the owner, that does not affect the truth of this matter. It is rate-cutting, with its consequent and almost inevitable loss of profit, that makes him unable to afford the essentials of smart appearance.

There is indeed a whole lesson in this one small aspect of the subject that I am discussing. A smart vehicle, wellturned out, is emblematic of that efficient custom-earning service which enables a man to compete successfully for business without reducing rates below a profitable minimum.

But to continue with our principal subject, this matter of obtaining haulage business by advertising and the method of that advertising. The next point which should have the attention of the haulier who is either starting a business or refreshing an existing one, is the notepaper and bill headings that he uses Remember that if the haulier pursues this plan of trying to attract new business, he will frequently be writing to potential new customers and maintain a steady correspondence with old clients, even if it is only sending " rem ind ers."

His notepaper, or his bill heads, or both, will be constantly under the eyes of his customers. It will therefore pay to take care in selection or design, It is a great mistake to use cheap paper with ill-designed and poorly printed headings. The difference in cost between a good notepaper with a well-designed heading and one of cheap material and poor make-up is small, especially if the period over which the expenditure is spread is taken into consideration. Even lithe cheap notepaper or bill heads cost only 30s. per 1,000 sheets and the good-class paper with a neat heading costs twice that amount, the difference, 30s., is expended only once every 18 months or longer in the case of a man in a small way of business, and the advertisement value of an attractive notepaper heading is much more than the actual amount involved.

It is a good idea to make use of an easily remembered slogan. What that slogan should be depends to a certain extent upon the type of work. Nothing fancy or intricate need be thought out for this purpose. Such terms as " Prompt Deliveries," "Safe Transit" and "Heavy Loads for Long Distances" are examples of suitable slogans. The haulier should think out his own and refrain from copying that of anyone else. Indeed, it is as well to make sure that a local competitor is not already using the one selected.

A camera is a useful adjunct to a haulage business, especially where the haulier is likely on occasion to have to handle unusual loads or do business in connection with events of topical interest, even if local The conveyance of ark unusual item of furniture for a forthcoming production at the local theatre, a special load for an agricultural show, an unwieldy piece of goods carried in connection with some building operation or for the installation of new machinery somewhere, are all potential photographic studies which are usually acceptable to the editor of the local newspaper, with whom the haulier should be on good terms.

I know several hauliers who make good use of this branch of publicity. One of them, a resident in a well-known south coast town, seems always to be having his name in the local papers. The reason is that whenever he carries out an unusual job of haulage (and that, as it happens, is fairly frequently) he takes a good "live" newsy picture and sends it to the local journals. The consequence is that nearly everyone for miles around is aware that this particular man is experienced in the handling of unusual jobs and, in consequence. when anything of the kind is required he gets the first inquiry. His name is at any rate the first to come to mind and the odds are in favour of his getting the business.

The photographs can be put to other uses too. One copy of each, suitably enlarged (as should be those sent to the local papers), should be put in an album to be available when some potential customer is discussing some work he requires doing but doubts the possibility of its being carried out by the haulier. A glance through the album of photographs will reassure him, All the foregoing are easy and comparatively inexpensive ways of achieving publicity. Really they cost nothing. It is the duty of every haulier to keep his vehicles in good condition and have them always presentable: He will reap the benefit of that in improved running, if nothing else. He must have notepaper, whilst the use of a camera can be a hobby, combining work and pleasure.

If the haulier feels that the operation of a camera is a bit outside his abilities, he should make use of the services of a local professional. The cost may be a little more than if he did the work himself but will nevertheless not be excessive, and will still show a profit in the advantages it brings. S.T.R.


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