From what we've seen, traditional fleet management doesn't work. Here's what we're doing instead.
You dial the number, and then, you wait. And you keep waiting. When you finally reach someone, they almost never have the answer you need or the power to solve your problem. If you push them hard enough, they’ll put you on hold – again – and go find someone who can help. That takes time, though. And if you happen to be calling after hours or on a weekend, you might as well give up now.
No, this is not a description of a customer call center. This is about fleet management.
What exactly is Fleet Management?
Part-problem-solver, part-copilot, fleet managers have a tough job. When a driver needs help, they call their fleet manager. In some situations, the fleet manager can quickly address the issue but not in most. If the driver has a problem with their driving plans, the fleet management team has to get in touch with a planner. And if it’s a situation with a shipper, the customer service team comes in to assist.
It’s not a good system, but it’s the one the trucking industry has relied on for more than 50 years. Other companies may be fine with it, but Variant isn’t other companies.
Introducing Operations Specialists
Replacing the traditional planning role with Variant Optimizer™ was part of our plan to improve the lives of drivers. Reimagining fleet management was the other. Our solution was to get rid of the fleet manager position altogether and replace it with a new one – the operations specialist.
Unlike fleet managers, operations specialists have the power to help drivers without needing to rely on someone else for a second opinion or approval. If a driver has a problem with the load Optimizer assigns, they call the operations specialist. If they need help getting in touch with a shipper, they message the operations specialist through our app. And if they just want someone to talk to, they call the operations specialist.
Another problem with the traditional fleet management model was the inconsistent level of support. It was tough enough getting help Monday through Friday, but if a driver called in at night or on the weekend, it was even more challenging. Not at Variant though. Whether drivers reach out morning, noon or night, they get the same commitment to problem-solving from every member of the team.
A Team That Goes the Extra Mile
So, who did Variant hire as operations specialists? The very best fleet managers, of course. The problem with the old model was not a lack of talent or an unwillingness on behalf of employees. The problem was the system. “Before I worked for Variant, I had many sleepless nights wondering if my drivers were being taken care of,” says Kay, an operations specialist at Variant. “Working as a Variant operations specialist, I sleep in peace knowing my drivers have the support they need at all times.”
Drivers notice the difference too. “When I call the operations specialists, I always get the help I need when I need it. And they go the extra mile,” says Jeremy, a Variant driver.
And that’s exactly what drivers deserve.