Using strategic planning to refocus your business│
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Refocus on your business strengths with a strategic plan


Chris Walker, President, Rogue Specialty Transport

When the recession knocked the wind out of the economy in 2008, Rogue Specialty Transport did what many businesses do.

It started pursuing business outside its core market.

The Mississauga, Ontario-based company primarily ships medical products to hospitals and homes.

It is a highly specialized business, involving deliveries of sensitive medicine and equipment, around-the-clock emergency shipments, temperature-controlled vehicles and warehousing, and complicated cross-border logistics.

But the economic crunch led Rogue’s President, Chris Walker, to venture into other areas of business—whether or not they were a perfect fit for his company.

Working harder for less

Rogue started to bid on conventional transport business outside its area of expertise. But after a while, it felt like something was wrong. Rogue’s 120 employees were working harder than ever, but growth was stagnating.

The new shipping jobs affected Rogue’s margins. And the business just wasn’t suited to its proven strength of offering medical and health care shipping services.

“We were working hard but not very smart,” Walker says.

A common challenge

It’s a common problem when a fast-growing company hits a tougher economy. “A lot of businesses lose their bearings because they’re not properly focused and sometimes forget how to say No,” says John Brison, Client Partner, BDC Advisory Services. “It’s often because of a lack of a strategic thinking and related planning.”

Small and medium-sized businesses are especially prone to losing focus when the entrepreneur hasn’t ensured managers understand his or her vision and are on board with it, Brison says.

A strategic plan and renewed focus

In Rogue’s case, Walker called in BDC Advisory Services last summer to guide him and his team in creating a strategic plan for the following two years.

Creating a strategic plan was a way for Walker and Rogue’s employees to refocus their business by working together to understand their core strengths and values and how to exploit them.

In the strategic planning process, they:

  • reviewed the company’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • assessed client needs;
  • and decided where they wanted to go in the future.

Rogue staff quickly realized they had not only strayed from their core business, but that the company had a tremendous opportunity to grow in its specialty medical niche.

“We asked existing clients, ‘How can we provide you with better value and help you get through the recession? What services do you need that you are not using us for?’” Walker says.

Besides pursuing existing customers for more business, Rogue solidified its credibility within its niche medical market by getting various quality designations. It also dropped its efforts to pursue the non-specialized shipping contracts.

Sales soar

“Stepping back and looking at our business helped us refocus our energy and resources in areas that were going to pay off. It was a big and necessary correction to bring our focus back to our core strengths and values.”

It worked. Sales to existing clients have expanded 20 to 25% over the last year, and Rogue has added a dozen new employees.

The renewed focus attracted new medical-shipping clients, winning the company still more business.

“When you’re so busy and working so hard, your vision sometimes gets impaired,” Walker says. “It really paid off to step back and remember what got us where we are.”