CRM: Customers really matter

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If you’re in the transportation business you’re also in the acronym business. It’s amazing how many of them are part of our industry lingo.

In fact, there are so many that Gene Orlick, a trucking pal from Western Canada, produces an annual list of transportation acronyms. The 2014 version of Genes List contains 138 legit entries. Gene’s quite a guy so it should come as no surprise that he also has a few zingers like DBR (David Bradley Rant) to spruce up your read.

Gene knows this racket as well as anyone but this year I was surprised by one omission. It’s time to reach out to Mr. Orlick and THU (Tune Him Up).

I’m talking about CRM, or customer relationship management, a system for managing interactions with potential, current, and future customers. My first CRM was a Rolodex filled with handwritten recipe cards. Today, CRMs have evolved into sophisticated technology platforms, and no doubt every company has a formal system for managing customer data and relationships. However, I am not convinced that everyone truly appreciates the value of a well-executed CRM strategy.

CRM can improve your ability to understand, manage, and protect your customers. It can also mean millions of dollars when it’s time to cash out and you have to prove to a potential buyer that your customer base has sustainable value. CRM can be your MVA (most valuable asset).

Here are some things to consider if CRM is an acronym that ever finds its way onto your EMA (executive meeting agenda):

CRM: Costs Really Matters 

Think how much more a year it costs to drive a high-end European SUV versus a compact domestic shoebox. Bells and whistles are expensive to buy and cost even more to operate. As you debate the merits of technology and software, remember the most expensive options are the ones you’ll never use and your company can’t ATF (afford to drive).

CRM: Call Regular Meetings

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that CRM is just software. It’s a business strategy that merges your sales and marketing efforts with every other department. Mobilizing and deploying company assets to manage your CRM has as much to do with operations as it does with sales. Time to make this acronym part of your company: BMI (brand management initiative).

CRM: Customers Remain Mine

How often do you hear your company’s biggest customer also referred to as “Mary’s biggest customer”? Mary is your VP of sales. Her name is on the commission check you sign every month. A customer is a company asset, and your CRM will reinforce it at every level of your business. It will also give you better control of that asset so you’ll know what to do next after Mary leaves and BAC (becomes a competitor).

CRM: Cement Risk Management

Speaking of customer data, most companies have firewalls to protect important information. Unfortunately, most companies also have “key personnel” running around with customer information on their iPhone. Too many businesses have standalone sales systems operating outside of their main system. A CRM can provide a level of security company-wide that helps make sure your customer data is PFE (protected from everyone).

CRM: Costly Rubbish Medley

The only thing I hate more than clichés are clichés I’m forced to use. When I think about CRMs, there’s no better expression than GIGU (garbage in garbage out).

In order to have value, information must be accurate, current, relevant, and accessible. It takes a lot of discipline before collecting and organizing quality data becomes part of your company’s DNA. You don’t want to get two years down the road and realize that your CRM is FWC (filled with crap).

For your reading pleasure, I will post the 2014 version of the Gene’s list on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Gene has promised to do the same assuming he is ITO (in the office) and not CAG (cheating at golf).

Mike McCarron was one of the founding Ms in MSM Transportation before the company was purchased by the Wheels Group. Based in Toronto, he currently works for Wheels in mergers and acquisitions and can be reached at Follow Mike on Twitter @AceMcC.

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Mike McCarron is president of Rite Route Supply Chain Solutions and a partner in Left Lane Associates. You can reach Mike at

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