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Can Lumber Traders Successfully Work Remotely?

By March 16, 2020Lumber Market

In the current business climate, it’s increasingly evident that lumber traders need the proper tools to transact and sell lumber no matter where they are. We’ve been operating in an industry that historically didn’t require too much technology to make trades. Yet today, price fluctuations, shrinking margins, and increased demand for more precise inventory and timely trades are a reality. Not only do we rely on smarter trades to squeeze every penny of profit from every railcar shipped, but we also rely on smarter traders.

The fact is, many of us aren’t equipped to handle the issues facing the lumber trader today. In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and mandatory work from home orders (or, in many cases, work to survive) we need better tools. Enabling our teams to work remotely with near real-time inventory and pricing is ideal. However, we don’t (yet) live in that ideal world. But we can get close and we’ve found some tools that others outside the lumber industry have mastered in order to do this. Used with permission from our friends at Winning by Design, remote sales and trading effectively can be a reality. We recommend you watch these videos for more information and proven remote working and sales advice:

How to set up a remote working environment

How to host remote meetings

How to leverage online tools

The Coronavirus and work from home quarantines have highlighted in an acute way the absolute requirements of cloud-based operating platforms for modern companies for business continuity. It is also exposing just how unprepared this industry is for the future of work and the dynamic changing marketplace. Furthermore, we believe this is a powerful leading indicator of another key factor. The future of work will be increasingly based around remote employees. It is a far more cost-effective way to run a business other companies have benefitted from for more than two decades. It opens up a much broader talent pool as proximity to your office is no longer an issue. Work-life flexibility and quality of life are better and help retain talent.

We founded BuyChain with the explicit goal of untethering your top performers from their desks. We believe the future of lumber trading requires operating systems to be cloud-enabled and mobile delivered. We believe you should be able to respond in real-time to shipments from the warehouse, accept offers from the golf course, and view real-time sales results from your laptop on your couch. This is why BuyChain is being built and this is a key component of our mission to arm our industry to operate in a rapidly changing world.

Guidance on Remote Working and Business Continuity from Winning By Design
Here is guidance and advice from the remote working experts at Winning By Design on how to maintain revenue generation and stability for your company while dealing with work from home quarantines.

Get set up to work remotely.
Many organizations are not used to having a remote staff and likely need to adapt in a number of ways to make that a reality. With managers not being able to personally supervise and support their teams and deal with questions that come up, we suggest providing process and situation guides/playbooks to help arm them to be successful. You can sign up for free and use our templates or create your own here.

Change the messaging
In the face of a declining market, the unknown financial impact on a number of industries, and general fear and concern we need to lead with empathy. We also need to be relevant to the current context where the focus is no longer growth but cost reduction and efficiency. We also suggest you pause standard advertising campaigns to avoid being perceived as insensitive over the course of the next few weeks. If you do send messages to your current clients or prospects, ensure they are focused on helpful, actionable ideas to adapt and not about your product or services.

Excel at remote meetings
There are fewer opportunities to interact with a client, so you need to make them count. Listen to some recorded customer calls from your team. You will notice the most common mistakes: lack of setting a goal for the meeting, losing track of time, and therefore not achieving the desired outcome. Optimizing these key moments in remote meetings can have a significant impact.

Embrace your customers
Customer retention and expansion is now more important than ever. Conduct deeper discovery calls and chats, and understand their landscape is changing, and you are in this together with them as a true, long-term partner.

Enable your front line managers
Engaging and empowering your front line managers will be crucial to get through this difficult period. Ensure that they not only are managing their teams but that they truly understand and embrace the strategy and direction. This will help them actively coach through change and unforeseen challenges. Be sure to actively solicit their input so that you can learn from what is happening in specific customer conversations and amongst your team.

Trust in marginal gains
This will not turn around overnight. Trust those small improvements across your business will ultimately result in a significant impact. Asking your teams to improve 10% at a few key moments is much more attainable than asking them to double their sales quotas.