Standing in the checkout line at my local automotive parts store, it occurred to me just how challenging things have become in the world of automotive logistics. The young salesperson cheerfully says to me, “Our standard rotors run $176.00, or you can upgrade to the premium series at $215.00.” I was becoming perplexed with a choice between brake rotors. “Why so high?” I asked. In his upbeat and cheerful manner, he replies, “It’s really hard to get things in right now,” which spurs a conversation into all the reasons why.
Engaged in discussion and listening to the challenges of the location, the crowd around me grew larger, until we all stood uniform as a half dozen customers, with a sobering realization that things are far from what they used to be. Fuel, supply chain, manufacturing issues… all keywords that came up often amongst us. I raised the question to the employees of the store and asked, “How do you compete with your competitors, and what sets you apart?” Dave the manager stepped forward and proudly says with a confident voice, “SERVICE is what sets us apart.” It was not so much the word he used, but the look in his eyes and the confident stance he took in his conviction. He meant it, and it showed.
Driving home with overpriced brake rotors in the back, I could not help but feel bad for our customers. I had this nagging thought that the stresses of the world go much deeper than what I thought, and my focus began to shift to what is most important to me:
- “What is it like to choose the right company, how hard is it to trust in what you’re told by a stranger on the telephone, live chat, or email, and do our customers feel that they are making the right choice?”
- “As a national transport company, we can measure our successes on the back end of all automotive transportation moves, but what is it like for our customers on the front end?”
- I also recognized, “We have a good understanding of what sets us apart from our competitors, but what is it that makes us able to gain the trust of those that call upon us?”
Remembering the leadership and confidence that Dave the store manager demonstrated and communicated, it occurred to me that we may have been doing something right all along on the front end. “SERVICE” sets us apart.
If you search on the web for “Ship a car anywhere in the United States”, the return of internet hits is massive! Most are paid advertising by companies that spend ample money on making sure they come up first when people search. But who pays for that cost to get one’s name out there? How long have they been in business, and are the people that take the chat or call knowledgeable in the industry? Are the prices that they quote a realistic amount that will get the job done, or will they call you back asking for more money and use the bait and switch tactic? Are they brokers that list on a national dispatch board, or do they have vetted and fully insured drivers? The list of concerning and should-be-asked questions are vast. Until now.
Automotive shipping companies are diversified when it comes to structure and service. Some are dedicated to giving honest and real customer service, with a team of experienced and seasoned professionals that take the time to educate you and set the proper expectations. They manage the move from start to finish and deal with any potential issues in between. In the world of auto transport, things can and do happen daily that potentially slow thing up. Flat tires, bad weather, delays in pick up or drop off due to unavailable customers, the list goes on. You deserve a company that stays on top of things and provides you with updates in real-time. Other companies read from a cue card, plug zip codes into a computer and wait for a magic number to pop up before providing the prospected customer with an attractive offer. If the number is attractive to the customer, the company obtains the order, tosses the information on a national dispatch board, and takes the first driver that calls. Is that driver insured, are they experienced, do they have effective communication and a safe driving record? And most importantly, will they answer the phone when you call? Do you think the company you hired asked all these questions?
Price shopping is always something consumers focus on, and rightfully so. I was just in that spot yesterday with truck parts. But where do we put our money and what goes into generating a quote that is realistic for the customer? Let us dive into this deeper for an in-depth explanation. As I write this, the news headlines are flooded with articles concerning the issues in Ukraine, fuel prices, COVID, Monkeypox, weather issues and the stock market. It is overwhelming, to say the least, and unfortunately, it affects so much. If a labor shortage was not bad enough, now our drivers are being faced with fueling up a truck and spending hundreds of dollars each time. For me, I get about 18 MPG on my pickup truck, compared to an auto carrier that gets 8-11 MPG. Location, terrain, the weight of the units, wind and available spots on a trailer have always played a part in providing a quote, but that’s all changed for the worst now with a daily influx of fuel costs. A good company will have a team that watches market trends and keeps an eye out for weather systems. They keep track of what the driver needs to get to point B from A, while making sure the maintenance is up on the truck and has all the safety records on file. They watch the national average in fuel costs and keep a keen eye on where the truck needs to fill up and calculates the costs in that area. With fuel trends climbing daily, you need a company that will provide a real quote and not something generated by a computer’s historic data.
If we jump forward to the next challenge in today’s environment, we can look at the availability in the labor industry and qualified drivers that haul vehicles. It is a sad reality to think that the virus took thousands of drivers off the road for one reason or another, but there is an upside. As the availability of drivers declined, fresh faces came to the surface with an eager and energetic mentality. But what goes into a qualified driver and how are they regulated? That answer is very lengthy, but I’ll do my best to provide the highlights on what goes into becoming a safe driver. Anyone looking to become an owner/operator must register with the Federal Motor Coach Safety Administration. They must comply with insurance requirements, provide documentation on equipment, licensing, obtain an MC and DOT number, and then market themselves to companies that they can trust and grow with. If a driver fails to obtain annual inspections or submit their insurance when required, they will go on inactive status. Why is that important to an auto shipping company? When any driver joins a team, they take responsibility for the load they haul. The insurance coverage they carry should equal or exceed the amount of inventory on their trailer at any time. A national average for a driver is $100,000.00 in cargo coverage. Larger and more seasoned drivers will carry more than $200,00.00 in cargo. In addition to fuel costs, the premiums for insurance have climbed in the industry over the years making every mile count for the driver.
A professional auto shipping company will have an onboarding process with daily monitoring of credentials, making sure that their clients are covered and protected. They keep a close eye on insurance, safety ratings, accidents, and health checks and they make sure the driver is resting enough. Companies may hire the driver directly while others will contract out with a broker/carrier agreement. Other companies will take the first call they get, shake hands and hope for the best that all goes well. Relationships in any industry can make or break a company, and in this one, it’s all about hiring safe and trusted drivers to take possession of our client’s vehicles. It is imperative that a driver is fully vetted and onboarded properly while also bringing references and good ratings to the table before allowing them to haul. In addition, it’s important to hire drivers with good ethics and take accountability when and if needed.
It is not every day that accidents happen, but things can and do happen when dealing with equipment, traffic and other drivers. If you are like most drivers on the road, (knock on wood that you’re not) you have been in a fender bender at some point in your life. You understand the hassle and stress that it takes to deal with insurance companies and body shops. When shopping, make sure to ask if the company you are speaking with has a damage claims department. Do they advocate for you the client, or will they shift responsibility and leave you holding the bag of issues to deal with? A reputable company will have a team that manages accidents caused by the driver. They will open a claim for you and assist in planning with the insurance company and body shops while staying on top of the process and keeping you informed. Unfortunately, in this industry, we hear many stories of Automotive brokers taking the order and when an issue happens, they toss their hands up and say, “Hey, we are only the broker, you are going to have to deal with the driver and your insurance company.” It is safe to say that the company you hire to ship your car needs to stand behind you during every step of the process.
Do good companies still exist? They sure do, and they are waiting on your call! Simply ask the following questions that will prove to be beneficial, including:
- How old is your company?
- What is your onboarding process for drivers?
- How do you monitor your drivers?
- Are your drivers licensed and insured?
- Do you have a damage claim department?
- How are quotes generated?
- If I give you my business, will you ask me for more money later, or will you lock in my price?
- Can I get a rate confirmation and my pickup and delivery dates emailed?
- When do I pay? Before transport or after?
When wondering who to hire to “SHIP MY CAR”, consider partnering with DASH Auto Logistics as your trusted auto transport company. We want to handle you and your car with care and professionalism. Since 2015, the family of DASH has grown into a team of individuals that have a passion for service. We have developed techniques and methods to monitor the daily environment of logistics and provide a streamlined level of dedicated service. This allows us to provide real and fair quotes that are in line with the market conditions.
You can feel secure in knowing that we only work with fully vetted, licensed, and insured driving professionals. It’s important to us that they are dedicated to the same level of service that you expect and deserve. This gives our clients security and comfort, knowing that in the event of any issues, you are covered. DASH Auto Logistics is comprised of several departments that work closely with each other to ensure that our clients are taken care of. Regardless of driver relations or pricing, operations or dispatching, accounts payable and receivables, or in the unfortunate event of a damage claim, we are systematically working as a team.
DASH Auto Logistics will never ask you for payment upfront and only charge you when the unit is delivered as expected. This reflects the confidence and views of our jobs and the reputation of our family.
What sets DASH Auto Logistics apart from the competition, and what makes us the right choice? It’s the SERVICE and the people that stand behind our core values of taking care of what matters most. You!