Planning for the future can have immediate effects in the present. Mike Hamilton of AmeriQuest Transportation Services advises on how to use “day after tomorrow” thinking and the ways it can not only set you up for success down the road, but positively affect your current results.
Most executives spend their time dealing with the issues they are facing today. Some are focused on the near-term, meaning the next 12-24 months. But very few spend enough time thinking about the long-term future or engaging in “day after tomorrow” thinking. It includes dreams, hopes, and ideas that are somewhere out in the distance. Nost people convince themselves they don’t have to worry about them… yet.
However, given how quickly the day after tomorrow arrives these days and the many disruptive changes industry faces, it has become more important to spend at least some amount of time on a regular basis pondering.
Success with day after tomorrow thinking starts with top management realizing the benefits of having a vision and embedding it into every aspect of their organization. It also means understanding your organization. Do you really grasp how every part of it contributes to the new business process? Are you leveraging its strengths to bring value to your customers? It is also important to identify any gaps in your offerings and thoroughly analyze how you are accessed in the market.
It’s time to start asking questions like: “What do your customers need that they may not even realize they need?” and, “How can we make our customers’ businesses grow?” This could include saving them money in certain areas, making them more efficient in work processes or helping them work smarter. Once you have identified how you can better serve your customers, take a look at the communications and collaboration among various areas of your operation. All too often in the equipment finance business, people work in siloes. Big banks and regional banks are guilty of this as well.
Getting more than one division involved with a customer can result in increased business. Of course, you first will have to figure out a way to incentivize the person who “opened the door” for the collaborators to present their idea to the customer. Organizations working together to drive sales and increase profits will be the most successful.
We have a senior level person here at AmeriQuest who is dedicated to strategy and innovation. Their job is to search for the next big idea but not in a vacuum. To be successful, those ideas need to be shared with other departments and validated and tested against the latest industry developments and changes.
Day after tomorrow thinking allows you to figure out what one area of your business can do to help another. When you share information about what you are working on, it allows you to take a more consultative approach with customers. It also allows people from one area of the business to understand what the other area is doing and evaluate where and why they are successful. Naturally, others will start thinking, “If they can do that, what can we do with the same type of offering in our group?”
This day after tomorrow thinking can become the catalyst for a sweeping organizational culture change. It creates a process that plans for future needs in the present and can often result in unintended beneficial consequences.
Strategies might rely on more joint ventures or strategic partnerships to enhance existing offerings, saving time and enhancing products and services that can go-to-market more quickly.
For example, our company’s equipment finance group recently formed a strategic partnership with a bank to help it offer a new client service. By working together to understand the bank customers’ needs, we were able to design a financial product that not only secured the business for our partner, but one that also saved the customer hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We envisioned a creative solution that placed our partner in a position to win based on “a better mousetrap,” not on relationships or lower cost of funds. This outcome would not have been possible without day after tomorrow thinking. And we ended up with a more practical, immediate benefit even if we did not find the next Uber or Blockchain.
Engaging in this visionary exercise gives you day-to-day gains that would not be possible otherwise and allows you to look at equipment financing options in a totally new way.
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Ken Walters found his industry niche at CIT, where he worked for 18 years across many disciplines, including internal audit, equipment finance, capital markets and equity investment. He then led Emigrant Bank’s private equity investment group, Emigrant Capital, for seven... read more