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Straightaway Makes Business Personal to Counter Pandemic Problems

Zach Blank


December 11, 2020

In the National Football League, the team that wins the Super Bowl doesn’t always have the biggest superstars on the roster. What champion teams do have is chemistry. The quality relationships built between players during the week will lead to Sunday victories on gameday. This same principle applies in the business world––the quality relationships between companies and their clients dictate stability and financial success.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Straightaway didn’t emphasize personal relationships with small businesses as much as fleet managers and major carriers. Their goal was to promote their industry-leading route planning software to larger, more lucrative shipping and delivery providers like FedEx and UPS. But 2020 presented new opportunities to the Portland-based software company, as millions of small businesses were forced to change their operations from physical establishments to a delivery service model. Recognizing the needs of these new businesses, Straightaway shifted its sales approach.

Instead of soliciting major carriers to purchase Straightaway in bulk, the company focused on expanding its base organically via personal relationships and word of mouth advertising. Just as in football, the chemistry built between Straightaway and its customers created a winning formula for everyone going forward.

How Do Companies Adjust Sales Models for the Pandemic?

Millions of small businesses were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To Straightaway, these small businesses represent friends, neighbors, and community members. For this reason, Straightaway aimed to make their transition from brick-and-mortar to delivery service as smooth as possible. By leveraging Mapbox technologies to calculate the quickest routes with the most stops, Straightaway saves companies time, fuel, and money. Through personal relationships in their local community, Straightaway is experiencing organic growth faster than it had before.

No One Likes Cold Tamales

If you love tamales, you know they are best enjoyed hot. Straightway employees in Portland knew this as well. With COVID-19 protocols forcing restaurants to close their dining rooms and serve customers via home delivery, a popular taqueria was struggling to keep their tamales hot and customers happy. The problem was poor organization of the delivery schedule, which led to some tamales becoming cold before they reached their destination.

When Straightaway employees experienced the cold tamales firsthand, they contacted the taqueria and demonstrated how their delivery route planning app could speed up delivery times and even increase their potential volume of business. Within days, the taqueria successfully adapted to the delivery model, using Straightaway as its route planning app to streamline deliveries. The tamales were once again hot, and customers were once again happy.

A New Market for Farmer’s Marketers

Following the new relationship with the taqueria, Straightaway found a similar opportunity to aid the local farmers in the greater Portland area via a partnership with Milk Run. Milk Run operates similarly to Imperfect Produce, delivering local, organic products to customers via home delivery services. Though well-established, the farm-to-table delivery company was overwhelmed once the pandemic forced farmers’ markets to close. This caused demand for fresh produce to skyrocket, and farmers now needed companies like Milk Run to make their deliveries for them.

Straightaway stepped in, partnering with Milk Run and mapping their delivery schedules to fit more stops in less time for the drivers. Because of Straightaway’s route planning, Milk Run was able to continue its operations without incurring new costs in hiring more drivers to meet increased demand.

Optimizing “House Calls”

Straightaway didn’t only think with its stomach, it became a solution to local real estate agents as well. Real estate agents did not need Straightaway to schedule deliveries, rather they needed its time saving capabilities. Due to the pandemic, real estate agents were not able to give tours or host open houses in person, so they performed house tours for prospective clients through videoconferencing.

The downside to this alternative was that tardiness would cost them a sale more easily. It’s typical for sales agents to show up late to the showing because they’re coming from another house on the other side of town. It’s easy to take the wrong route, run into traffic, or plan out showings in an inefficient manner, leading to small delays. Normally, potential buyers would arrive early and wait at the house for the agent to show up. Tardiness wasn’t such a big deal because buyers would take the time to drive to the physical location, spend time looking at the property on their own, and start formulating some questions for the agent. But when waiting to watch video tours from home, some clients would drop the call if the agent did not enter the virtual meeting the minute it was planned.

Buyer impatience was a new obstacle for real estate agents, so agents had to prioritize getting to properties on time to close deals. Straightaway identified this new problem that many agents faced and added their solution to their sales pitch. They told local real estate agents that optimizing their routes would ensure timeliness and a better experience for the prospective buyers.

Personal Connections amid Pandemic

Straightaway’s decision to pivot their efforts toward smaller business can teach us a valuable lesson. Through experiences with these local industries among others, Straightaway realized there was plenty of business to capitalize on outside of larger shipping and delivery carriers. Rather than pitching the software to a fleet manager of twenty trucks, the company could streamline the logistics for twenty small businesses.

By building personal connections with community merchants, Straightaway found it was growing rapidly via word of mouth, giving previous efforts in cold-calling and internet advertising campaigns a run for its money. Because of this, some of the initiatives to hunt large fleets were pushed back to make room for sales with smaller companies through personal relationships.

Their pivot paid off, and it might for your business too. When small businesses struggle, making quality relationships might be a Hail Mary for everyone.

2021 and Beyond: Will Business Still be Personal?

It is probably safe to say that 2020 has been a year like no other in recent history. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced lockdown and social distancing measures, businesses had to adapt to the changing landscape of commerce. For mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, farmers, agents, and others, Straightaway provided a solution for their operational needs.

But what will happen when brick-and-mortars are allowed to re-open? Will there still be a market for Straightaway with local merchants? Or will the sales approach revert back to targeting major carriers? At this point, the future is not perfectly clear. Regardless of the outcomes, Straightaway will still provide answers.

Key Takeaways

●      Small businesses faced new problems during lockdown that route planning solves

●      Route planning helped hot food get to customers quickly

●      Farmers leveraged Straightaway technology to replace lost farmer’s markets

●      Real estate agents needed routing software to appease impatient customers

●      Pivoting focus from large fleets to small businesses paid off with new relationships

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Zach Blank

Zach is the co-founder and CEO of Straightaway.

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