Fleetowner 5079 Abmoving

Mobile success

March 16, 2015

Company: AB Moving, Allen, TX

Operation: Intrastate moving service specializing in homes, apartments and businesses in Dallas/Ft. Worth and Austin areas.

Problem:

Along with household goods and office furniture, AB Moving found itself handling a lot of paperwork as its operations grew.  Not only was the manual recordkeeping bogging down critical back-office functions like settling damage claims, but it was also introducing significant inefficiencies in its fleet operations as it spread its geographic footprint wider and wider within the very large state of Texas.

By 2013 AB Moving had 65 agents, each with its own crew and straight truck that had to report to its Allen, TX, headquarters every morning to pick up their dispatches and other paperwork for the day’s assignments.  That not only carried a high price in unnecessary mileage and fuel consumption, but it also cut into valuable crew time for a company that handles as many as 700 jobs a week.

Given the high volume of work, the company also found itself settling some damage claims, not because of its actions, but because it had either hit time limits set by state law or it lacked proof that the goods had been damaged before the move.

In October 2013, AB general manager Brent Davis began talking to Sprint, his communications provider, about possible solutions. 

Solution:

Sprint introduced Davis to Canvas, a developer of mobile apps for businesses like AB that dispatch and manage field service personnel who interact directly with customers.  Drop-and-drag form building allows the Canvas apps to be easily customized by each subscriber for their particular operation. It also ties those mobile workers to back-office systems through a cloud-based service, making it relatively easy to access and integrate the data in real-time through a browser.

By early 2014, all of AB’s agents were carrying Samsung Galaxy tablets running the Canvas apps. They were also equipped with Samsung Galaxy 3 smartphones, which not only provide a backup in case of a problem with the tablet but also are fitted with credit card scanners to handle customer payments on the spot.

Shortly after moving to the paperless tablet system, AB also installed a GPS tracking and fleet management system from Geotab in all its trucks.  It now knows when trucks arrive at a job site, as well as where and when trucks are free, making dispatch to new jobs more efficient for everyone, says Davis.

The payback for the wireless conversion began almost immediately. One agent told Davis he was saving $400 a week by cutting out the daily trips to the office for paperwork, not to mention the additional billable hours freed up by avoiding those trips. Instead, bills of lading are sent directly to each agent’s tablet. Payments are received as soon as the move is complete, and the agent receives the next assignment and BOL before leaving the first job site.

The tablets have also helped address problems with damage claims, as agents can now use them to photograph any existing problems before they start a move and file those photos wirelessly with AB.  That has not only reduced the number and cost of post-move damage claims, but it sped up the process for paying claims.

Back in the office, Davis imports the BOL and other field data as standard files that can be fed into accounting and other fleet management systems.

Davis estimates the move saved $100,000 the first year just in credit card processing since the fees are lower for the swipe-on-site service, as well as another $50,000 in accounting time to match contracts and payments or correct manual data entry errors.

“Overall, it’s been a pretty phenomenal change,” says Davis.  

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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