Herlache Truck Lines
Herlache Truck Lines primarily operates in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Small fleet finds room to grow with adaptive TMS software

Nov. 28, 2023
Wisconsin-based paper hauler Herlache Truck Lines searched far and wide for a transportation management system to help its growing fleet streamline operations and provide better customer service.

Over the past decade, Tom Herlache has grown his regional paper-hauling fleet from two trucks and six trailers to 17 trucks and 65 trailers. But as Herlache Truck Lines grew, he needed better systems to manage his growing small business. 

“Our niche market is Green Bay to Chicago. In this market, you cut your teeth on hauling paper,” Herlache told FleetOwner after the fleet celebrated its 10th anniversary in October. “Since 2013, we have made hauling paper freight our bread and butter. We have grown into a fleet of 16 owner-operators and one company driver.”

As Herlache competes with major carriers in Wisconsin and Illinois, “we have to set ourselves apart with service, driver quality, and communication.” With a small office staff and a team of drivers, he turned to a transportation management system designed for small fleets like his. But it didn’t create all the efficiencies Herlache sought: document management, invoicing, electronic data interchange integrations, ease of use, and speed.

See also: How carriers can best manage insurance costs and risks in 2024

Truckbase designs TMS for growing asset-based carriers

He said it could take 32 steps within the system just to complete one load, which adds up for a fleet completing 600 monthly shipments. So Herlache kept looking for a dispatch-centric solution that could streamline his operations. He finally turned to Truckbase, a TMS software provider designed for growing asset-based carriers.  

“Truckbase's simple UI makes servicing our 600 shipments per month easier by putting all of our loads in front of dispatch in a simple and obvious way so shipments never get missed,” Herlache explained. “The weekly and daily calendar view helps us quickly assign front-hauls and backhauls.”

His drivers also found the transition easy, as Truckbase app training took less than 15 minutes. “Customers are updated on load status immediately as drivers change their statuses via Truckbase live tracking,” Herlache said. “Live tracking has been an absolute hit with our customers and brokers. It has cleared hundreds of check calls and emails from our phones and inboxes monthly.  Every time I introduce a new customer to live tracking, I get the same feedback: ‘This is awesome!’”

Live tracking has made dispatching easier at Herlache Truck Lines. “Anyone in the industry knows that things change constantly, loads cancel, and production schedules change, and being able to re-dispatch our drivers while away from our desk has made an incredible difference,” he explained. 

While dispatch is the foundation of TMS solutions, combining it with invoicing, driver settlements, QuickBooks integrations, and live vehicle tracking through ELD integrations can help small fleets succeed in competitive markets, according to Bryan Jones, Truckbase chief executive. 

“Truckbase’s sweet spot customer is an asset-based carrier that does regional or long-haul, with 10 to 100 trucks,” Jones told FleetOwner. “In that world, they are either graduating off of spreadsheets or legacy ‘starter’ solutions” but might get overwhelmed by TMS designed for larger carriers. 

He said Truckbase fills that gap for the “under-served” smaller to midsized carriers. “Truckbase has always focused on building easy-to-use software that is intuitively designed and holds dispatch functionality at the core of everything we do,” Jones explained. “Carriers don’t have months to train and learn complex new software suites. They want to get up and running in days, reap the benefits of less data entry and fewer errors immediately, and get back to winning customers and serving them reliably.”

The CEO said that automating order entry with Truckbase’s AI-powered load builder and eliminating check calls with its Smart Customer Updates makes the software "easier and more cost-effective for dispatchers, drivers, and operations managers to reap the benefits of a TMS.”

See also: Three ways small fleets can stay competitive

How smaller fleets can find a TMS that fits

To help fleets like Herlache Truck Lines overcome that overwhelming feeling of TMS shopping, Truckbase put together a five-step guide to choosing trucking software that outlines the process based on a fleet’s specific needs. Jones suggested that fleets demo solutions to see how they work for their operations. 

“Pay close attention to how you feel working with the specific contacts at TMS providers during demos and evaluation, because your team will also experience the joys of their partnership or the challenges of the poor support when you implement the system,” Jones added. 

Herlache has reviewed more than 20 TMS providers over the past three years. “Half of those TMS providers had a user interface that looked old and was incredibly difficult to learn and navigate,” he said. “There is enough intricacy and difficulty in logistics. The last thing I wanted to do was add complexity with a TMS.”

He praised the Truckbase team’s responsiveness to feedback and ideas, many of which are built into his fleet's current system. “This allowed Herlache Truck Lines to continue to provide our exceptional service while we transitioned our entire customer base over to Truckbase,” he said. “I have not had a single complaint from our over 100 customers, only positive feedback on live tracking.”

Since going live with Truckbase for Herlache’s more than 100 customers, he hasn’t received a single complaint. “Our customers feel closer to us than ever, and we’re able to compete on service and reliability, not just price,” he added.

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