Monthly Archives: June 2014

Technology and Embarrassment

EmbarrassedNobody likes to be embarrassed. I hear over and over that poor communication in business, just as in any relationship, creates the most embarrassment. It could be forgetting someone’s birthday or your anniversary. In fact, you might be feeling the heat of a prior embarrassing situation as you read this—the emotion is that powerful.

In trucking, embarrassment often comes up as the response to things like this:

  • “He only picked up 5 skids? Man, there were 7 to pick up. You did this last week too.”
  • “Where is the driver?” (even if he is already at the dock)
  • “Why can’t you tell me who signed for it and when?”
  • “When will you have a POD that I can see? The delivery was six days ago.”
  • “Why are we getting billed for detention when nobody gave us a heads-up?”

People sometimes think that new technology is all about new gizmos, bells and whistles they don’t need, and expensive toys they’ll never use. However, people sometimes don’t spend much timBad moralee thinking about the emotional climate at work, and the cost of that to you and your employees. When I ask gently, most people sure do have the embarrassment issues going on. What does embarrassment cost you and your team in terms of morale?  What does morale cost you in terms of your day-to-day ability to serve your customers?

It might be worth considering technology as an investment in your emotional well-being. Having better and faster answers to these questions can lessen your embarrassment and give your staff and customers new confidence. Enhanced tools, just the right ones for your business, might do wonders for your emotional climate.

As always, something to think about. Have a great week.

–Jonathan Miller

“I Just Want To Work a 12-Hour Day”

clock_07-00I hear this from busy trucking executives all the time. Sometimes it’s the owner/CEO who wants to work less. Sometimes it’s a spouse or family member in the company who wants a different proportion of work time to non-work time. Regardless, a trend seems to be developing: working all the time is not necessarily the life that people want, even for owners.

Where does the time-suck come from in trucking? There are several, but my customers and prospects in local P&D and related fields tell me of one particular demand that has mushroomed over the past few years. Customers want proof of delivery as close to real-time as possible. Customers will even sometimes leave carriers over this one issue.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, really. Society in general has seen an acceleration of the speed at which people are able to retrieve information of all sorts (on smartphones, tablets, and so on). In the local P&D world, this acceleration takes the form of an expectation by shippers that the trucking carrier should also be able to provide “on-demand POD.”

When the customer calls, we generally want to avoid the following: Frustrated-caller-copy

  • “Dude, am I on hold again while you chase down that POD? That is so 20th-century. You are so lame. ”

So let’s assume you’ve said “okay” to this new demand. Who is going to do it? You? Everyone in the office?

One difficulty is this: Trucking companies are experts in hauling freight. You excel at getting the freight to its destination on time, accurately and damage-free, with special services as needed. You make appointments. Local P&D companies bring a liftgate or 2-man crew if needed, handle inside deliveries or tight urban dock locations, and so on. We might call this “core service.” Superior core service like this is a justifiable point of pride for many carriers. It can take 12 or 14 hours a day from many employees just to give great core service.

  • “So, Jonathan, are you telling me that this is not enough? I need to give my customer instant, on-demand POD too?”

No, I’m not telling you this…. your customers are. That is, they probably are, if you’re listening.

At some point we all have to ask:  What is best for my trucking company, right now? What is best for me, for my spouse, for my people, for my customers, for their customers?

Looking just at the POD requests, there are a number of ways to address the issue.

  1. Add 2-3 hours to each work day. (This gets tiresome pretty quickly.)
  2. Hire more people. (This gets expensive pretty quickly.)
  3. Ignore your customers.

Bury-your-Head-in-the-sand (We don’t recommend this.)

There are other choices too. One is to find technology that can do all this POD work for you, much more cheaply and reliably than a new hire. Depending on your situation, you may be able to satisfy most or all of your POD requests with a self-service web portal, where your customers log in and download whatever they need. In other situations, you may be able to satisfy several key accounts this way, providing some other communication mechanisms for other customers. In any case, given the trends, it’s worth devoting some serious time to thinking this through.

If you’d like to get down to that mythical 12-hour day, you can harness technology to get this done for you. Some effort is required to set it up. Of course, it also takes effort to do nothing and remain stuck in the same situation.

Finally: If POD isn’t the Great Time Suck for your business, what is?  For some carriers it’s billing.  Please leave comments below, or anywhere else you’ve seen this post, so that we can continue the conversation together. I look forward to hearing what you think.

–The Editors