Private fleets – what’s the consensus?

iStock_000027199215Large_prosandcons_resizePrivate fleets have long been a topic of conversation for those in the logistics industry. Some feel that the upfront cost of maintaining a dedicated fleet with increased liability makes it seem unattractive. But increasingly, many companies are moving to a private fleet model, as they feel the long-term benefits far outweigh – and ultimately re-pay – the initial and ongoing costs of ownership.

The top 3 most rewarding aspects of operating a private fleet include:

•    Improved customer service – you have ultimate control over customer experiences and can provide proactive communication
•    Cost control through enhanced vehicle monitoring & driver efficiency – less miles, less fuel
•    On-demand service notifications and change management – respond and communicate in real time with those in the field

By implementing tools such as vehicle routing software and GPS tracking designed around your business objectives, logistics managers can ensure that they have full monitoring of where the fleet is at any given time. Per a recent study cited by the Commercial Carrier Journal, it was found that approximately two out of every three carriers and private fleets are utilizing this technology. In using a private fleet, logistics managers are able to ensure less variance between the quality and services offered across their business, keeping customer satisfaction high. This has huge competitive advantages in an industry differentiated by customer service.

Private fleets can also enable owners to segment priority customers – keeping their delivery patterns static, while setting up other deliveries based upon least mileage and lowest cost. This keeps a healthy balance between cost savings and customer satisfaction.

iStock_000016524148Large_trucks_resizeKeeping a talented pool of drivers is always a challenge for those delivering goods or providing services. However, private fleets have an advantage here – Tom Moore, Sr. Vice President, of the National Private Truck Council was quoted in the Journal of Commerce saying the “turnover rate on some private fleets is 11 percent, compared to almost 100 percent for for-hire trucking companies.” This means that drivers can more consistently build a rapport with their clients. Frequently, familiarity like this can provide better feedback, resulting in even greater client satisfaction. This also fosters knowledge of routes and customers, less room for mistakes, and happier customers over all.

The decision to have a private or for-hire fleet varies by company and specific objectives, and there are pros and cons in both scenarios. But today, the customer has more power and greater needs for communication. The private fleet model aligns to the customer while putting control at the company level to manage costs and balance the two.

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How to forge stronger customer relationships

Working on your callIn business, you’re only as good as the customers you serve. If there’s a steady flow of customers that are satisfied with your service, then you will likely achieve success. But for logistics management, customer satisfaction can mean so much more than just meeting customer needs.

In private fleet, delivery and service, customer satisfaction more frequently involves customer management and developing a relationship that helps make you and your customers more profitable. Innovation in the fleet industry is changing the client experience, but it’s irrelevant if you as the manager aren’t anticipating the needs of your customers.

Logistically, fleet managers rely on swift, accurate information to provide quality service to an end user. When customers are waiting on an order, delivery or service, they appreciate and expect accuracy, communication and convenience. Here are some simple ways to manage each of these aspects, and ensure success with your customers:

Anticipate your customers’ needs
When you understand why your customers need you, you will know what to do to ensure they depend on you for it. By preparing for the requests your customers will make, you earn an opportunity to impress them. Anticipating customer needs shows that you are listening, and you are willing to take the extra time to understand their business the way that they understand it.

For example, at Roadnet we do this by providing answers to questions about information such as delivery and service status. First, we identify the most common concerns and answer them through communication methods that are most convenient for our clients (such as email and text alerts as well as dashboards). Accessing this data allows for prompt decision making to address potential service failures as well as more in-depth analysis to drive better business decisions.

Communicate with your customersContact Us Colored Creative Symbol
We live in an on-demand society. Customers expect to know immediately where their deliverables are any time of the day. This means you as a logistics manager always need to know what’s going on with your drivers and trucks – and relay that information back to the customer. By providing constant feedback about shipments before a customer asks, you can ensure that when a problem arises, you have time to develop solutions before the customer even knows the problem exists.

For example, Roadnet Active Alert enables our clients to use their website to publish delivery and service status for their customers. This information can also be shared through push notifications via text, email or phone call. Proactive notification tools like these can prove to be a major differentiator when up against competitors.

Under-promise and over-deliver
There’s probably no backlog of complaints that customers received their delivery on time or early. Managing customer expectations is quite possibly the easiest way to build lasting relationships. If you can guarantee that your deliveries will always be on time or ahead of schedule – and that your pickups are always on time and completed efficiently – you can meet the expectations of even the toughest critics. If you exceed customer expectations, you can achieve loyalty that will not be led away simply from promises of less expensive products and services.

While there is no way to guarantee on-time delivery every time, there are ways to reduce the number of missed time windows and find methods to minimize these setbacks. Tracking drivers and orders throughout the day and automating communication to customers can help maintain driver satisfaction. By showing customers they are a priority, you’ll find higher retention rates, a solid reputation and greater success.

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Getting to Know the 2014 Roadie Award Finalists – Paraco Gas

Perform 2014: Roadnet Users Conference has come and gone but we’re still acknowledging our Roadie Award finalists. The company we’re featuring today brings propane to your backyards for cookouts and heat to your homes. Paraco Gas is one of the largest marketers of propane gas in the state of New York and one of the top regional marketers in the Northeast.

Chad Miserendino accepting a Roadie Award for Paraco Gas.

Since 97% of Paraco’s revenue comes from deliveries, efficient logistics management is critical to the success of the business. Paraco has been using nearly the entire Roadnet product line since 2011 and has seen some big improvements as a result. The company successfully centralized its dispatch operation from 16 fully independent dispatch centers to 2 dispatch hubs. Reductions have been made in costs, driver vehicle miles and fuel.

At Paraco, high-powered performance means operating at the lowest cost possible in order to keep prices stable for customers. Roadnet’s solutions help Paraco measure key performance indicators – including miles and stops, planned vs. actual hours and overtime and service times at each stop – so that the company can operate more efficiently and better serve customer needs.

Paraco has done a great job in using Roadnet tools to turn information into a bottom-line difference. Take a look at how Paraco has driven out cost and driven in productivity:

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