I’m fortunate to have a career that has enabled me to have lots of different experiences, from my service as an officer in the Navy to over 20 years of experience in marketing consumer products to now vice president of marketing and communications at Old Dominion Freight Line (OD). While the experiences have been diverse and wide-ranging, a common theme and life lesson emerged from all of these roles: understanding customers, building relationships and exceeding expectations are the keys to success.
In my most recent role before coming to OD, I witnessed the impact that strategic partnerships and reliable delivery could have on a business. I served as a vice president of marketing and innovation for a large food manufacturer and our relationship with a major retailer had soured. It had little to do with the quality of our products, but rather, we weren’t reliably delivering our products on time and in full to meet customer expectations. It got to the point where our sales team even had trouble scheduling meetings with the retailer. The customer refused to discuss anything with us until we could figure out how to deliver our product reliably.
We shifted our focus to ensure that we could meet production schedules and shifted our product distribution to a different carrier with consistent delivery times. We found that as our service levels improved, the customer would offer us merchandising opportunities that other manufacturers could not fulfill. Serving as a reliable partner for those merchandising opportunities got us invited to participate in joint business planning meetings with the customer. Once we met the joint business planning commitments, we were asked to share our long-term category outlook for a major department in the store. We found that little by little, we restored this retailer’s trust in us because we made good on our commitments. For me as a marketer, this was huge. It meant that instead of being denied meetings to talk about strategic marketing activations, we were invited to the table to strategize for the long term in partnership with the retailer. In addition, more consistent deliveries made our sales increase and our costs from fines and penalties decrease.
It’s truly remarkable when I look back on that time in my career and trace the change in that relationship from a purely transactional one to an enthusiastic, strategic partnership. I attribute that shift to our team recognizing there was an issue and proactively searching for a new shipping partner who had experience with the customer and a great track record. Once we were able to consistently come through on the basics of delivering products on time, we could talk about bigger activations, because the retailer knew we were dependable. It goes back to my overall theme in business: knowing your customer, building relationships and exceeding expectations being the keys to success.
That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come work for OD. In my former position, I had learned firsthand and understood the importance of having a logistics partner that understood the significance in delivering on-time and damage-free. Those are two areas where OD particularly excels. I saw joining this organization as a way to continue to use my marketing experience in an industry I knew could truly make a difference for an organization.
At OD, we are very focused on serving our customers. We know that they have put so much effort into what they do, and they have made a promise to provide a quality product to their customer. We take that very seriously, whether it’s a small equipment manufacturer or a major consumer products manufacturer delivering to a large retailer. Services like OD’s Must-Arrive-By-Date (MABD) solution not only help our customers keep their promises to meet stringent delivery windows, but as I know full-well, it also helps them manage and strengthen their customer relationships. After all, when our customers can meet the delivery deadlines and demands they promise to retailers, they can have a much more meaningful and strategic relationship — not just a series of transactions.