Denise Schuster, founder, and CEO at Park Your Truck tells us about international logistics & Covid-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Denise Schuster: We try to make the best of the situation and stay positive. So far, no family member has contracted Covid.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Park Your Truck.
Denise Schuster: I had a classic career start, studying business administration, then working in a medium-sized advertising agency, where I then worked my way up to managing director. In 2012, I completed an Entrepreneurship MBA at TU Munich and UC Berkeley. During this study, a group of people had to develop a business idea and then follow it up. Our group came up with the idea of sharing private parking spaces. This went down so well with investors and supporters that I founded the company after my MBA, initially with the idea of sharing private car parking spaces in large cities. After 1 year I left this market because the problem was not as big as I thought. However, the topic of parking was exciting, so I then turned to the area of truck parking, because the problem is much bigger due to the driving time restrictions and there was no solution for it yet.
How does Park Your Truck innovate?
Denise Schuster: Our innovations in the software area all stem from the fact that we talk a lot with our customers. It sounds trite, but it’s the key to our success. We don’t outsource the conversations with our customers, suppliers, stakeholders, but talk to them over and over again to find out pains. Then we develop solutions that we communicate very quickly to our customers and get feedback on them before we finalize the solution. This means we are incredibly fast and develop several software projects on the market at the same time. At the same time, we focus on cooperation with the market and industry leaders and not on small pilot projects.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Denise Schuster: Thank God, not at all. Our business was positively fuelled by Corona. 2020 was the best year in the history of the company. 2021 will be even better. From 10,000 reservable truck parking spaces in 2020, we will be able to offer more than 20,000 in 2021 due to canceled trade fairs, football matches, or air travel.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Denise Schuster: Yes, we have some problems finding good staff. We have all been working in home offices for over a year and the existing staff like it. We can hardly inspire new employees – especially young job starters – with this. They don’t want to miss the meetings at the coffee machine and the conversations with colleagues in the office. We, therefore, rely on 50+ employees who are closely rooted in the location, and with this strategy, we get experienced employees who appreciate the freedom we offer.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Denise Schuster: Actually, I travel a lot and meet with clients, suppliers, and stakeholders on a regular basis. In 2020, I traveled in the first and third quarters and not at all in the 2nd and 4th. This was not detrimental to the business. We now make more phone calls and also use online video systems like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, or others. Most of the time it works well when there are not so many people in a call. With more, it quickly becomes difficult because someone always has technical problems.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Denise Schuster: No, we did not apply for state aid because we did not have to. However, we had already planned innovation projects in 2019 for 2020 and applied for subsidies from the state. We implemented the projects as planned and completed the first project in April 2020. We thought that because of Corona, the disbursement of already approved grants would be faster, but that was wrong. We had to wait until the end of November 2020 and interim finance the total investment for 6 months longer than planned. Thank God we were able to do that.
Your final thoughts?
Denise Schuster: I would like to see more positive business news, because every crisis always creates opportunities for new ideas and business models, or accelerates developments. Besides all the Covid reporting and all the things that are not going well, I would like to read more about the things that are going well.
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