Ian Smith: Having a Vision…

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People often say that not having a business plan is like sailing without a map; too long floating freely will often lead to rocky shores and untold disaster.

While we like to be agile and reactive as a business, there’s a lot to be said for having some sort of future ambition written into your plans. This doesn’t have to be the often unwieldy ten-year plan, but rather a set of principles to adhere to in everything you do.

When we first set up VisionDrive, just over a year ago, we already knew what we wanted to achieve. Inspired by our time in car sales we hit upon the idea that transporters, particularly those who made single movements, needed to up their game and we believed we were the ones to make that happen.

Ever since we started we have had a shared vision and huge ambitions, but to achieve them, we have had to set our sights high.

No matter how hard it becomes or how difficult they might seem to maintain as we grow, we will always look to these principles, which we refer to as our 20:20 vision. By the year 2020, we hope to have achieved 20 different goals. These will be informed by us, but also by our staff and the community we work in.

This vision will consist not only of financial goals set by my fellow director Jack and me, but also suggestions on improving the business from staff, partners and suppliers we work with.

By being open to suggestions and self-improvement, we will not only be listening to our customers and those around us, but hopefully also absorbing others’ feedback automatically.

To keep ourselves on track and focused, we already adhere to a list of what we like to term ‘critical non-essentials’. These are standards which we aim to uphold to make sure our vision can be achieved. As the term indicates, while we aren’t bound by external rules to stick to these standards, we will make every effort to do so as part of our commitment to providing great customer service.

These include:

  • Aiming to return our customers’ calls within 30 minutes.
  • Checking that the car we are delivering has all the required paperwork and if not, we tell our customers as soon as possible so alternative arrangements can be made. (Sales can often be lost because of that elusive V5.)
  • Behaving professionally when in customers’ dealerships – we know our team is also being observed by the public.
  • Making our deliveries as quickly as possible. We understand that customers are busy and having to check in cars is not always the most effective use of our customers’ time.
  • Calling or emailing ahead if we know our delivery may be delayed owing to traffic or an unforeseen issue, ensuring the customer is always informed.
  • Our team never help themselves to the facilities on site. This applies to toilets, coffee machines or similar.
  • Acting with decorum with customers goes a long way building a long-term relationship.

As well as the theoretical and day-to-day operations, we also set out funding and business plans in line with what we want to achieve. Pre-planning investment rounds and stages of financial success has allowed us to remain flexible and after all, isn’t that what logistics is all about?

If it’s not convenient or fast-moving then we would seriously need to reassess what we were doing. Having that overarching plan in our minds means we are always working towards attaining our goals. To revisit the sailing analogy, the wind is in our sails if we’re all heading in the same direction.

As we grow, we are confident that any staff we take on will not only add to this vision, but help us work towards it. Mission statements are possibly outdated, but having a shared focus is always valuable. As this is one of my first columns, perhaps this will be the perfect place to follow our vision and where it takes us.

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About Author

mike@weareshootingstar.co.uk'

Ian Smith is a director at vehicle transport specialists VisionDrive, based in the city of Lincoln.

Ian has a degree and masters in Criminology, which led to his launching of the first construction rehabilitation training programme led by a construction employer in UK Prisons. The programme directly supported over 1500 prisoners throughout its operation.

With VisionDrive, Ian’s greatest ambition is to change the way automotive logistics operates, especially the single car market. Ian hopes to develop more economic practices and to use technology to improve efficiencies. He has also set himself and the wider team the ambitious task of developing the brand into a strong franchise and to take the firm’s ideas to an international level.

The company currently makes more than 300 single vehicle moves per month for a variety of dealerships and distributors. VisionDrive specialises in bespoke, fast and professional vehicle deliveries of single vehicles and is expanding into multi-vehicle and transporter movements in 2018.

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