As the chief transformation officer and executive vice president at Covenant Transport, I manage different facets within the company, including technology, M&A, innovation, and leadership for our non-asset logistics business. I lead strategic initiatives to drive digital transformation, and much of my current perspective has been shaped by my over 20 years’ experience in the transportation and logistics sector and my previous experience working in a senior role at Amazon.
For over 30 years, Covenant Transport has steadily and efficiently expanded its suite of diverse service offerings. Today, we offer transportation and contract logistics services to our valued customers across the United States. With our robust business model and people-first mentality in mind, we are pleased to report that we have also been listed as one of Transport Topics 100 Largest For-Hire Carriers.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Digitally Transform Your Business to Stay Competitive webinar with a few of my peers in the transportation, distribution, and logistics industries. I was joined by Omnitracs Director of Sales Scott McWilliams, enVista Vice President Geoff Milsom, and Santa Monica Seafood Vice President of Logistics James Nissenberg.
During that event, I shared several over-the-road takeaways relating to digital transformation.
Realign your business to fit COVID conditions
For us, we did a quick shift to meet our customer demands. Smaller packages increased, so we had to adjust the freight there. We were able to ship consumer products, like toilet paper, very quickly. Before the pandemic, it was very unusual to expedite those processes. Some of our automotive customers went into complete shutdowns for three to six weeks. Also, as people were buying leisure products for the home, like trampolines, bikes, and scooters, we ended up seeing spikes in demand that were similar to the holiday season. So, we had to be flexible and adjust our model to meet those very diverse demands.
It’s a significant network change to be able to adjust, and then you also have to factor in the safety of your drivers. You can ask the questions we asked, like, “When can my driver get in and out?” and “Can they access facilities for restrooms?” Amid the pandemic, everyone has thought drivers have been very safe because they are in the cab by themselves. But in reality, they have a lot of exposure from deliveries and pickups, fuel stations, and rest stops.
The right visibility applications can help facilitate realignment
Visibility is one of the hottest topics we see right now because shippers want to track their freight. We all want that experience. Fortunately, as a long-term Omnitracs customer utilizing the right solutions, our trucks can send constant updates to our customers every 15 minutes.
The challenge for many businesses — ours included — is that customers want more and more information. Now, we’re even seeing them request 5-minute updates. Fortunately for us, we can adjust those timeframes with Omnitracs. Customers can receive these updates with the help of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or Application Programming Interface (API) data. You can utilize robust visibility applications to provide your customers with enhanced metrics and deliver on the additional information they request in the long run.
Metrics to help drive your business forward
The metrics we look at are very customer-centric, such as on-time pickup and on-time delivery. The customer service aspect is extremely important, including efficiency and dwell time at customer locations.
We use these metrics to provide feedback to our customers, and then we measure the KPIs for the benefit of our business. While our metrics are specific to our business, there are consistent metrics all associates on the logistics and distribution side should consider. Most of the time, what should come first is making sure you can provide high-quality service. Safety, Hours of Service, ETA, and availability metrics are also critical.
In terms of safety, for example, the solutions we use — including Omnitracs Critical Event Reporting and Omnitracs Driver Vehicle Inspection Reporting — help us digitally convert and digest some of these metrics for the benefit of our business, teams, and assets.
What the coronavirus pandemic can teach us all about business strategy
It’s best to be as adaptable and flexible as possible, and COVID-19 has provided us with those two most significant takeaways. We are all dealing with the unexpected, and in ways many of us have never anticipated.
What working at Amazon has taught me is that, sometimes, it’s okay to fail — just do it fast. Have an open mind, be flexible, and quickly be reacting and adapting. When you have the right solutions, you can efficiently and rapidly grow, experiment, learn, and adjust as needed.
I’ve enjoyed sharing my perspective with all of you. Check out the full webinar to learn how you can help your business achieve digital transformation — regardless of whether you’re there for the long haul or the last mile.