The football season is in full gear, and there are similarities between football and the parcel industry. I thought I would share some thoughts on how they are similar. Football is a sport that consist of three key areas: Offense, Defense and Special Teams. These three areas are overlapped by a Game Plan and Adjustments. Let’s take a look at these and see how they impact your parcel shipping.

A great offense starts with knowing your play book and how you can match your talent to optimize your effectiveness of each play. Have you identified if you are a passing team or a running team… air shipper or ground shipper? What have you identified in your shipping profile that gives you an advantage in your negotiations with your carriers? Do you put your business out to bid on an annual or bi-annual basis? If so, that’s a good example of an offensive move. Have you looked at innovative ways of improving service and/or reducing cost? Just like football, you need to be creative and aggressive to achieve your annual parcel goals… it’s like putting points on the board.

We have all heard the old saying… Offense wins games but defense wins championships! This is a true statement if you follow any sports team. This is also true in the parcel shipping business. One of the biggest events on an annual basis with the parcel industry is the “General Rate Increases (GRI)” that happen at the end of each year. This is an offensive move that the carriers make on each shipper every year. What are you doing from a “Defensive” perspective to minimize these impacts to your 2012 operating budget? What are the carriers’ weaknesses that you can exploit to minimize this impact? Are you using all of your right players at the right time? There is an opportunity to use your senior management team members to help drive key negotiable items with your carriers. 

Special Teams
Big plays in football will often determine the winners in many games. Special teams include the kick-off team, kick-off receiving team, punting team, punt return team, field goal team and the extra point team. Who are your special teams (IT, Accounting, Operations, Sales, Customer Service, Import/Export, Compliance, Insurance, Engineering)? You have many indirect resources within your organization that can be part of your Special Teams and can bring value to your overall parcel solution. What kind of special projects do you have in the works? Do you survey your customers (internal and external) to determine their satisfaction with your parcel shipping solution?

Game Plan
These three areas of football are the core of the game. However, the game plan will set the stage and pull all three of these area’s together to win a game. The first part of an effective game plan is to have a scouting report on your competitor. What are their weaknesses and strengths? Who are their key players? What do we need to do to win? These same principles can be played out in an annual business plan. How can you use your parcel shipping as a strategic advantage to better serve your customer or your customer’s customer? Have you looked at all service options in the market? The parcel business is fragmented with smaller players outside the duopoly. How can you use all the tools of the industry to be a market leader?

At half time of any game, the coaches are reviewing what they need to adjust to become more effective in the second half. Are you looking at ways to adjust to your game plan? Use all of your available resources to review and refine your plan; you will see some incredible results. 

Football is a team sport; no different than the parcel shipping business. For football and the parcel shipping business, it’s about achieving the desired result.

Michael J. Ryan is the Director, Business Development at DSC Logistics and has been in the parcel industry for over 25 years. He can be reached at 847-393-5862 or