Transparency Is a Priority in Successful Fleet Solutions
Every business talks a lot about trust, especially in the trucking industry, where honest relationships are the key to every successful transaction. Trust and integrity can be seen as the foundation of most business in the nation today, but not every business will follow through on the promise. Fortunately, the digital world along with social media is starting to hold companies to higher standards than ever before. For example, even a small disruption in the airline industry can result in a single tweet out to millions, leaving the airlines accountable for a response.
Good or bad, social media is here to stay, and the trucking industry would do well to pay attention and plan with fleet solutions that can address issues before they turn into real problems. If a delivery does not meet expectations, fleet management is responsible for addressing the matter before social media can magnify it. Larger fleets and consumer-facing companies like UPS might be more impacted by social media than B2B fleets, but the fact remains—relationships matter, and it all starts with trust and transparency.
Honest relationships have become essential not only for customers but also internal teams and employees. The trucking industry is focused more on trust than ever before in hopes of building stronger relationships with customers as well as within each company. Comprehensive fleet solutions have broadened to include not only hardware and software, but also behavior and communications.
3 Fleet Management Rules That Build Trust and Teamwork
Michael Roeth from FleetOwner.com has outlined an approach that has been successful in fostering collaboration and building trust within a team. His observations are helpful in any application, but particularly as part of a fleet solution that relies on internal cooperation and participation.
1. Check your ego at the door: The people in the team I was interacting with had expertise in a wide variety of areas. What was most amazing to me is the fact that they were willing to listen to what other members of the team had to say and to acquiesce when it turned out that maybe their solution was not the best in this particular situation. But, and this is what is really important, they did not walk away. They figured out how they could best continue to help the customer even though a different path was being followed.
2. There is no such thing as too much communication: This team was constantly sharing information with each other. There were no siloed pockets of information that only a few folks had. The team knew that in order to achieve optimal results it had to make sure everyone involved — including the customer — had ALL available information. There is that old adage about information being power but these folks were more than willing to share the power. Refer back to item Number 1.
3. Be transparent: This is part and parcel of communicating. Transparency meant sharing all the information — the good, the not so good, and the awful. It allowed the customer to ask questions for a fuller understanding of the options. Having all the information allowed the customer to make the best decision given the circumstances.
The approach above goes a long way in building a positive and productive culture. When people are respected for their contribution, they are generally more willing to work harder in the process. Transparency in communications forges trust, and trust brings more value to the relationship than any amount of money.
The Overall Shift Toward Transparency
As the trucking industry advances, company owners and managers are becoming more reliant on digital fleet solutions to help manage operations, workflow, and payment. Fleet management software, while creating efficiencies, is also providing transparency within the supply chain. That seems like a positive strategy but for the traditional brokerage model it is a leap forward and is forcing a shift in the model for profit.
Brokers are currently facilitating about $100 billion a year in freight fees. A broker typically captures 15 to 20 percent of these fees, which accounts for roughly $15 billion in profits per year. — Trucks.com
The traditional brokerage model embraces the opposite of transparency. Brokers are paid by the margin on shipper payment vs. the carrier fee, so clearly the less transparency between the shipper and carrier, the more opportunity for profit to the broker. Fortunately or unfortunately, the digital marketplace is forcing the shift to a less encumbered and more honest process. An online freight marketplace is getting rid of the middleman and enabling complete transparency. The shipper is charged a flat fee while the carriers bid on the freight for 100% of that quote. The efficiencies in the process are applied to both time and money, gaining an overall trust in the relationship as a bonus. Transparency in communications is initiated throughout the process including quotes, specs and qualifications, schedules, and payment.
So you can see how transparency in digital fleet solutions is informing the way the trucking industry is doing business. In cases where there is no broker, carriers are faced with building their own relationships and they are recognizing how important those relationships have become. With massive competition, customers are making decisions based on relationship and standing by the fleet with proven integrity and trustworthiness.
When It Comes to Payment, Transparency Is Everything
Fleet payment leader EFS has been transparent in their approach and communications from the beginning. Leveraging data and technology, EFS has succeeded in creating robust fleet solutions that employ transparency for accuracy, efficiencies, and growth. They are able to provide a fleet with meaningful data to make smarter and faster decisions. Transparency in real-time fuel purchasing data and unique management tools offers deep insights into purchasing and volume performance to keep the fleet competitive and even ahead of the competition. The benefits of the fuel audit and reconciliation tool are substantial, as you see here.
KPI Tracking & Purchase Reporting
See the big picture with tracking and reporting features. Real-time and historical pricing analysis helps you more easily manage KPIs and purchasing data.
Feedback on Driver Fuel Consumption
Get specific, actionable feedback on driver fuel consumption. Monitor spending behaviors and provide your drivers with guidance to help them build more fuel-efficient driving habits.
Validate Your Fuel Prices
Make sure you’re receiving your negotiated fuel discounts. Daily fuel reconciliation and price verification help you track fuel spend. Mobile fuel price discovery and optimization tools help improve driver performance.
Save valuable time on auditing and reconciliation. Our robust real-time reporting and analysis do the work for you. You too can quickly and easily produce polished executive management reports.
The EFS Carrier TrendSource’s data visualization and dashboards also provide transparency, making it easy to spot trends and exceptions across a wide variety of performance metrics.
Gain Added Security
Make sure fuel purchases are validated and secure.
Find out how you’re performing relative to your peers.
Optimize Fuel Spend
Make better decisions on fuel spending.
Verify Fuel Discounts
Ensure you’re receiving all negotiated fuel discounts.
Technology is providing the transparency that is making business stronger, which in the end means more profitable and sustainable. In an industry where it is extremely important for the driver to show up on time, leave on time, and deliver on time, transparency and technology are critical. Large fleets have resources and systems to make this happen more easily than the small to medium-sized over-the-road fleets. While the variables are the same, the weight of each variable may differ, which is why smaller fleets often rely on a broker. Based on the online model shift mentioned earlier, brokers now need to make business about their relationships and connections to make a commission a value for both parties. While shippers have not spent the time to know the choices, the brokers will. But what does that mean, exactly?
Top 10 things That the Broker Knows Best
- Who the carrier will be
- Whether the carrier will show up on time
- How long it will take to load up the truck
- How much the carrier will charge
- Whether the carrier has other cargo they need to drop off first
- Whether the carrier knows the best route to the destination
- Whether the carrier has a good, bad, or neutral reputation
- Whether the carrier is going to drive safely
- Whether the carrier will respond to calls, texts, or emails
- Whether the carrier is trustworthy
What it all comes down to is relationship and trust. An honest relationship will benefit the broker, the shipper, and the driver for entirely different reasons. Once the job is contracted, in theory the broker is guaranteed the commission, the shipper is guaranteed the delivery, and the driver is guaranteed the job. This can happen successfully only if there is transparency in communications and trust in the relationship.
The benefit of transparency can also be leveraged as the job unfolds. Mobile logistics apps use real-time data to provide tracking information, document storage, GPS guidance, and proof of pickup and delivery. These apps empower the shipper and the carrier to work together through the transparency of the data. Fleet solutions like these are making fleets stronger and keeping the industry moving forward.