Fleets play their best hand by diversifying into services that can boost business with existing customers and attract new ones. - Photo: Gettyimages.com/EzumeImages

Fleets play their best hand by diversifying into services that can boost business with existing customers and attract new ones.

Photo: Gettyimages.com/EzumeImages

Editor's note: This is the introduction to a four-part special report on how four fleets are diversifying their businesses to find new routes, new customers, and new opportunities in a time of technological and market disruption. 

Staying ahead in trucking is never about standing still, so why play the same hand over and over? No matter how poker-faced you are about it, winning the pot is not just about showing your aces.

Come out ahead by having a full house of options to impress your customers. In large part, assembling the strongest hand is about reading your customers. That means knowing, for starters, how they view working with you and then figuring out what else you can do for them —  and how you can do that for them better than anyone else.

Diversifying is the score you’re after if you’re ready to break out of commodity hauling or you don’t want to limit your avenues to growth beyond straight-up trucking. Disrupting creaky old business models is a powerful force. So, too, is adding on to existing successful models, which can be accomplished with much less exposure to risk.

Here we look at four trucking operations that have diversified into various new services, while continuing to deliver excellent service from their core operations:

  • An intermodal carrier added services to handle overweight and specialized bulk-oil containers among other new offerings.
  • A regional and dedicated carrier opened a brokerage aimed at providing rapid service.
  • A specialized hauler branched out by launching a specialized logistics operation.
  • A famous-name carrier created a drop-and-hook service complete with trailer pool and, separately, a last-mile delivery unit.

What these savvy operations have in common is not a throw-out-everything-you-know mentality. Their approach is stretching their respective envelopes to see what more they can do to grow their businesses beyond conducting business as usual. Yes, it’s about thinking outside the box. But it’s more about getting out of that box and making things happen to make sure you are playing a winning hand.

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