In the latest episode of the Future of Supply Chain podcast, we sat down with Tom McLeod of McLeod Software to discuss disruption, customer satisfaction, and the future of transportation. The idea of an industry being disrupted by the birth of new technology can be a frightening prospect for many organizations, but Tom shared a fresh perspective on the concept.
McCleod Software provides technological solutions for transportation management and trucking software that support integration across a broad array of complementary logistics products.
Tom attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and entered the transportation industry with a background in programming. Initially, he did consulting work for a variety of companies in the area but ultimately realized an important truth—focusing on a particular niche is critical to being able to meet customers’ needs.
This realization, along with the help of a mentor, allowed Tom to focus his expertise on transportation software. He founded McLeod Software in 1985.
Tom is an expert in creating software to optimize a variety of transportation industry-critical components, from dispatch operations management to third-party logistics.
One of Tom’s most riveting insights lies at the heart of the ever-shifting industry. He says changes in the transportation industry, both past and future, open doors to innovation.
“When you say disruption, another word for that is opportunity. It's the disruption that creates opportunity,” Tom says.
The heart of this wisdom is extraordinarily insightful. Essentially, change presents industries with the opportunity for innovation. We have the chance to solve new problems with modern solutions, leading to industry breakthroughs and the opportunity to expand business.
Finding and anticipating industry needs makes conducting business easier for customers, and customers are the lifeblood of any business. In order to best connect with them, he says, we must first learn what they expect.
“Asking questions is necessary to figure out what the expectations are from the customer. Questions are also an important part of establishing credibility,” he says.
Asking questions not only allows us insight into the potential needs of our customers and the solutions we may be able to offer them; it also allows us to demonstrate that we understand our customer’s businesses well enough to ask the right ones.
In order to ask the right questions, we must look at the solutions our customers have already implemented, then find ways to make those techniques and tools more helpful.
Tom saw the opportunity to improve his transportation clients’ tools by consolidating their tech into one interface.
“It dawned on me that an important principle was to get all the information that was needed for transportation professionals to do their job into one system,” he says. “That way, they could see it all in the same place.”
According to Tom, at the end of the day, it’s all about the customer and what we can do to best meet their needs. Sometimes it’s more important to meet the customer’s business requirements than it is to turn a profit. When we meet the customer’s needs, we build loyalty and an unparalleled reputation in our industry.
“You've got to make commitments and you've got to keep those commitments,” he says. “Occasionally, that means you have to spend more than you took on in on the original commitment.
“The confidence that our customers have in us that we will deliver and follow through on the promises we make—that’s the only form of security that we have.”
The Future of Transportation
Part of keeping customers happy and maintaining a healthy business is anticipating the changes the transportation industry is experiencing. One current example, as Tom puts it, is the inevitability of automated vehicles being utilized in shipping.
As automated vehicles become more common and infiltrate the transportation industry, the need for quality employees and insightful solutions won’t disappear; instead, it will change. That’s good news for forward-thinking supply chain professionals, who can expect disruption to continually improve their operations over time.
“Having the right information in front of the people involved will help operations become more and more efficient,” he says.
To listen to the full Future of Supply Chain episode featuring Tom, click here.
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