In June 2019, Shawn Sekhon, Mani Litt, and Guri Bhathal joined Convoy to discuss how they had grown their fleet to over 100 trucks. Three years ago, the fleet was 20 trucks and focused solely on intermodal local freight. In order to start hauling dry van freight, Guri saw an opportunity to begin working with Convoy. After signing up, their fleet grew by 30 trucks. By 2019, they had over 100 trucks running both intermodal and dry van loads.
While some carriers have found success hauling anything and everything, from anywhere to everywhere, National Trucking Service has proved it is often better to concentrate on one small sector of the industry.
Today, Juan Ochoa, Operations Manager at National Trucking Service, joins Macey Knecht to celebrate their fleet hauling over one million miles in 2020 with Convoy!
Macey: Welcome Juan! As always, it’s a pleasure to have you joining us. What role do you play at National Trucking Services (NTS), and why did you join this carrier?
Juan: I joined the company in 2018 because I could see the potential for growth. My duties at NTS are to make sure that everything during a shipment runs smoothly for both the customer and driver. If there’s an issue with a pickup number, payment, or a truck has a mechanical problem, I’m calling the customer or reporting the issue to the broker. My team’s goal is to make sure that the drivers get back on the road as soon as possible.
With the Convoy app, it’s easy to make sure our drivers have all the correct information they need for a shipment. This heavily reduces the back-and forth, especially with the ETAs and in/out times being automatically recorded on behalf of the drivers.
Macey: Recently, NTS hauled over one million dry van miles with Convoy. Do you believe carriers are more successful if they have consistency on the lanes they run? What is your carriers’ niche in the market?
Juan: Having a consistent and dedicated lane to run has been essential to facilitate our growth in many ways. First, these consistent lanes help concentrate how and where dispatchers look for loads to keep the driver’s schedule full. Second, dedication allows us to better plan our reloads back to our home base in Seattle. And third, we are able to better grow our equipment and fleet because our drivers have a predictable schedule and lane they prefer to run.
At first we were surprised to see that NTS had completed over one million miles with Convoy, but looking back on the lanes we like to run and the volume of work we do with Convoy, it’s more than understandable. We mainly run intermodal and dry van freight from Seattle, WA to Sacramento, CA, and then back from Sacramento, CA to Seattle, WA. The average distance for this load is about 750 miles or 1,500 round trip. If you multiple this distance by the 1,402 loads we completed for Convoy in 2020, the total distance adds up.
Macey: We often hear a driver job will sell itself if the carrier has a regional operation and/or the driver can make it home most nights. What is the benefit of working with NTS as a driver, and how often do you recruit new drivers?
Juan: Most of our driver recruitment, about 80%, is by word of mouth. However we do offer NTS employees incentives for referring over-the-road and port drivers. Because of the driver satisfaction of working with us, our turnover rate is approximately 5% or less. We are very straightforward and upfront with drivers regarding the expectations of working with us, and we always work with the drivers to get them home in a timely manner when needed.
Macey: Everyone in this industry understands that cancelations happen fairly often. How does specialization on a lane create an opportunity to quickly replace canceled loads?
Juan: Absolutely. When running the same lane and multiple loads, cancellation is very minimum and if it does happen, NTS has been able to re-book trucks through the Convoy application within minutes of a cancelation. That is why “Request a Load” is one of our dispatcher’s favorite features!
Macey: What were the largest challenges as you grew your fleet and how did you overcome them?
Juan: The most intimidating challenge we continue to face is collecting payments and maintaining a positive cash flow while growing our operations. With Convoy, we dedicate a large percentage of our loads so we can take advantage of Free QuickPay. Our drivers can also invoice Convoy immediately after completing a delivery by taking photos of the BOL, lumpers, or scale tickets in the app. As an operations manager, I also have the ability to upload PDFs and other documents on behalf of the drivers on Convoy’s desktop version, Carrier Web.
Our dispatchers have also found success finding and booking loads on the Carrier Web. There are plenty of tools that help them search and request the best loads for our fleet, with minimal effort 24-7.
Interested in hauling with Convoy? Get access to all loads in the Convoy network here — it takes just minutes to sign up.