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Just last week, I was invited to speak at the National Conference of one of the leading transportation associations.

Awesome group of people.

In one session, we focused on how to legally cut your income tax bill by thousands, and also how to get the best settlement from the IRS if you owe them a, uh, boat-load of money!

(It’s funny – no matter what group I’m speaking to, one of the hot topics is always “What do I do if I get audited?”. More on that in a future article.

So we had a good time talking about IRS audits, and they were VERY happy to hear a little-known statistic that I layed on them:

Of all the audit cases that are appealed after the auditor proposes adjustments, over 53% are concluded with a favorable result (i.e., a reduction in the additional tax being proposed by the auditor. And further – the average reduction is 36%. So based on these statistics, if you run into the IRS’ buzz saw and they assess you $10,000 in additional taxes, you stand a very good chance of it being reduced by $3,600!

Before I get side tracked with all of that, let me return to earth and tell you that the second session focused mostly on blue-sky stuff on how to grow your business from where it is right now to where you want it to be, say, three, five and ten years from now.

The audience was a mix of small, medium and large business owners, all from the world of transportation and logistics. (And I suppose I should point out that it was the businesses that were small, medium and large sized. Although now that I think of it, it seems there were a couple of owners that could use a gift certificate from Weight Watchers!)

I invited the audience to get comfortable, stretch out, and ponder their dreams and plans for growing their businesses.

Immediately, I could see the wheels beginning to turn throughout the gathering.

There was just about an even mix between men and women, and they were just about evenly spread from maybe mid-30’s to mid-70’s

To get them thinking, I asked, “What’s the first way that you think of for increasing your Gross Income? Virtually in unison, they responded, “Get more customers”. Now this was a top-shelf gathering of transportation owners and logistics executives. People I’ve recognized and admired for years.

Smooth sailing to this point, but I was about to hi-jack this esteemed audience from our smooth ride, and take us all for a bumpy adventure down a dirty road.

I began…

“World-famous marketing guru, Jay Abraham, says that there are three and only three ways to grow your business.

They are:

  • Get more customers. This is the first and often the only method that many owners and executives think of.
  • Increase prices. “Wha-huh?”, they said; “raising prices will make us lose money – everybody’ll walk out!”
    • “Tough crowd”, I thought to myself. “This could take a little time!”

I continued…

  • “And the third way is, get more visits from existing customers. Sell them a product or service that is related or complimentary to your primary product”.

You could hear a pin drop.

Their eyes were locked on me.

But I couldn’t tell if I had their undivided attention or they were pondering a dash to the bar.

Many of you reading this are familiar with a company named National Tire and Battery – they go by NTB for short. They have 1200 locations in the U.S. and Canada, and they sell – you guessed it – tires and batteries, for standard sized cars and trucks.

Now you may already see where I’m going with this thought, and I hope your wheels are beginning to turn regarding your business.

Before NTB started selling batteries, they were simply – NTW… National Tire Wholesale.

For years, they were wringing their hands over how best to increase their income 2 or 3 times over.

Finally, the light bulb went off… or did it come on?? – I never can figure that one out. The geniuses at NTW finally realized an important fact: Most if not all of the vehicles that they equipped with tires also eventually needed batteries.

The folks at NTW already had the customer relationships, the locations and the vital customer info in order for them to easily add a perfectly complimentary line for their existing customers. A no-brainer if ever there was one!

Since we’re getting comfortable with each other, I’m hoping you are already in your favorite chair with your favorite beverage. If you are getting up to grab a beverage, go ahead and grab a yellow legal pad and pen while you’re up.

Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Perfect – everybody back? Good.

Oh nice, I see quite a few of you brought back a snack to have with your drink.

OK, so let’s get started back – where was I?

Right, the legal pads…

So think with me for a minute.

In your company, in the world where you live, what products or services come to mind that would be a “natural” for what you already sell?

What products or services can easily be added to the mix of what you already do?

Deep or wide?

Do you remember a few minutes ago when we were talking about the question that I asked my renowned group, about how they would first choose to grow their business? And they mostly said “get more customers”?

Let’s hit a couple of concepts here that now make sense to me from 30,000 feet.

“Getting more customers” is generally known as “growing wide”, and adding more products or services is “growing deep”.

So which method is right for you? Or is it a combination of both.

I believe there is no absolutely right answer, but rather that it lies in answering another question.

I feel like this phrase is getting a little tired, but where is your “low-hanging fruit”?

Have you reached a measure of critical mass in your business where you are getting a decent return on your investment in marketing and advertising?

And changing our analogy, are you able to “win the game” with a consistent string of singles and doubles, along with an occasional home-run? Or must you rely upon homeruns and grand slams to get you where you reasonably want to be?

Is this enough food for thought for one session? Or you’ve got a couple more swallows of that drink left, ponder this with me:

Do you remember a few minutes ago when we first started talking, and I mentioned Jay Abraham’s three ways to increase your income?

And the second way was for you to raise prices – remember that?

Did you get all clammy over the idea of raising prices? And did your heart started racing? Do you feel kinda stuck with “what the market will bear” as far as what price you can charge for your goods and services?

Then tell me this: What is the incentive for a potential customer or client to use you over every other option they have, including doing nothing? This line of thinking is from another world – famous marketing expert, Dan Kennedy. Are you basically “the low price leader in your primary market?

Do you really want to be known as the “Walmart of Logistics”, or whatever your corner of the logistics or transportation world is?

Do you serve a specific niche with your services? If not, should you?

In the case of our team here at eTruckerTax, we happen to specialize in preparing taxes, cutting taxes, and dealing with IRS problems specifically for our friends in the world of transportation and logistics.

So what is the right answer for us? Should we grow “deep” or “wide”? Personally, I love the idea of serving more owner-operators, small fleets and related areas like terminal owners and freight brokers. Why?

Because that’s who I personally connect with and those are the people I most want to help to keep more of their hard-earned money.

What is it that drives you? The only right answer is, whatever would make you wake up early every morning with excitement, almost like a kid on Christmas morning. So much so that you can’t wait to call or meet with either your team members or your customers so that you can begin serving them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments section below!