Thinking Outside the Box

Approaching every business opportunity with the same ‘toolkit’ and thought process will eventually lead to stagnation and frustration. Sometimes you have to jump in with both feet, as long as you’re prepared to think outside the box. The below story provides a great example of thinking outside the box in order to move forward.

During a chat over lunch, a business associate of mine described a situation that had given her a massive amount of stress, but eventually turned into a very profitable venture. After doing an amazing job for a large multinational office supply company, she (and her company) were asked to consider submitting a bid to handle daily deliveries in a couple different metropolitan areas across Canada. At first glance it appeared to be a very lucrative contract, however in order to submit a competitive bid, they had to commit to securing cross-docking facilities in these specific metro areas. The companies they were competing with already had these facilities, and the managers in place to handle. With a deadline fast approaching, she had to act swiftly. After visiting multiple facilities and seeing the associated rent and ancillary costs, she quickly came to the conclusion that submitting a profitable bid would be highly unlikely. However, after thinking about the situation for a couple days, she recalled chatting with a food distributor, two years prior, who had made the remark that they only used their cross-docking facilities for about three hours in total each day. The rest of the time, the facilities were largely vacant and inactive. She quickly reached out to her contact at that company to see if the situation still held true. Luckily enough it did!

Her next step was to propose to this company renting out their inactive dock space for a period of six hours each day (which luckily didn’t overlap with the food distributor). After carefully looking at the proposal, the food distributor thought it was an great idea. The proposal was mutually beneficial since the food distributor was able to increase the utilization of their facilities, while my associate and her company were able to secure necessary loading facilities for less than 1/3 the average rent. After securing a long term rental agreement (subject to being awarded the office supply delivery contract), she was able to submit a competitive bid – and won the business. Since that time, they have been awarded contracts from the same company in other large Canadian centres using similar rental arrangements.

Maybe you can use a similar strategy to enter a new market? Maybe you can use a similar strategy to serve your existing companies in a more efficient fashion? Maybe you can decide that one ‘toolkit’ will only take you so far….