What the Best Fleets Understand About Custom Driver Apps

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Many fleets used to perceive custom mobile driver apps as “nice-to-haves.” The over-the-road productivity benefits of offering dispatches and load details to drivers at their fingertips were impossible to ignore. Yet, collectively, fleets believed that using in-cab devices and making phone calls to drivers were good enough. They thought drivers wouldn’t embrace more technology and wondered if custom apps would be worth the investment.

But times have changed. Early on, truckers adopted smartphones at a high rate for personal and business needs. Today more than 90% use their smartphones every day for work. As such, many fleets see driver apps as “must-have” tools. Research shows 14 of the 20 largest fleets now have custom mobile apps, and a look through fleets in Commercial Carrier Journal’s Top 250 shows many innovative examples of custom app development.

The best fleets in the industry now see the technology as more than a simple timesaver. Custom mobile driver apps are true problem solvers. They are proving powerful in fighting industry challenges like turnover and rising business costs. Plus, SaaS-based offerings now make developing an app—tailored to the unique needs of a fleet—easier, faster, and more cost-effective than ever. 

Fleets are proving their custom driver apps are more than just tools. Technology is transforming their businesses — one problem at a time. Here are a few examples outlining how custom driver apps are making a difference for drivers and the fleets who employ them:

Problem #1: Subpar Productivity

Walmart, one of the world’s most sophisticated retailers, discovered that its existing mobile app was frustrating drivers and hurting productivity. The poor design even affected revenue, contributing to missed deliveries that left store shelves unstocked. 

The company developed a new custom app called NTransit built around the needs of its 13,000-driver fleet. The app offers a straightforward driver workflow and automates several steps contributing to more miles driven with fewer administrative tasks. The app supplies gate codes, stores documents, and makes taking pictures of truck damage simple. Drivers can easily scan pallets ensuring the right shipments go to the correct location. The app also allows drivers to receive pay for work performed outside of driving by documenting qualifying tasks. 

Walmart went a step further by integrating NTransit with stores. Geolocation alerts notify docks when deliveries are approaching so the store is ready for quick unloading and turnaround to keep trucks moving. Shoppers benefit as well by seeing shelves stocked in real-time and having an accurate inventory for online purchases. 

NTransit has had a direct impact on Walmart’s productivity problem. Dwell time is down 13% and on-time deliveries are up significantly. Driver and store communication is better, and the company now confidently manages the status of its equipment and merchandise. The app even has reduced an already low driver turnover rate saving Walmart time and money. 

Problem #2: Missed Optimization Opportunities

As one of the nation’s largest expedited carriers, speed is key for Load One. The carrier starts each day with only about 25% of its fleet planned on loads. Having trucks in position to pick up freight as it becomes available is critical to the business model. A lack of visibility left drivers guessing where to go or wasting miles by chasing freight. Load One’s Ultimate Advantage custom mobile app changed that. 

The app leverages predictive analytics to show recent lane volume history to help drivers proactively position assets. Drivers see Load One and competitor trucks to avoid cluster areas. Freight quotes go straight to the app allowing owner-operators to simply accept or reject the load with one click.

Ultimate Advantage also includes a dashboard giving drivers access to all important information in one place. They are able to see their earnings, offered loads, planned orders, and required trip paperwork. The app integrates with onboard cameras as well giving drivers greater insights into their safety scores. 

With the app, Load One helps its drivers haul more loads with less work and wasted time. In a business where every minute matters, the fleet’s custom app is helping to optimize each move and asset. 

Problem #3: Rising Insurance Costs and Safety Concerns

Insurance premiums per mile for trucking are up 47% over the last 10 years. Liquid Trucking, who carries unique risks along with high-value cargo, felt the pressure of rising rates. The company wanted to make the job as safe and simple as possible while helping control costs. The solution was DeliveRecon, a custom mobile app that puts drivers in charge of mitigating risk. 

The app works as a knowledge-sharing tool. Every dispatch comes with route and location details created by drivers. Information includes things like where to enter a facility, hazards to avoid, contact information, and site maps with tank locations. The peer-to-peer information helps drivers operate more safely and today Liquid Trucking is benefiting from insurance rates below industry averages.

Flatbed carrier TMC Transportation publishes safety videos to its custom app that drivers watch at their convenience. The remote approach saves time and money by not requiring drivers to train in a physical classroom. Completing training on the road means drivers do not lose their earning potential or compromise service. The mobile training approach also gets new hires on the road faster by complementing onsite onboardings with videos drivers can watch from anywhere. 

Prior to deploying its custom app, Paper Transport provided driver scorecards with metrics calculated for the prior 30 days. The delay left drivers struggling to remember speeding offenses. Now the app automatically updates the scorecard every 24 hours with violations marked on a reference map. The company saw a 90% reduction in speed violations within six months of implementing the app-based scorecard.

Problem #4: Taking on Driver Turnover

Despite frequently sitting atop the Truckload Carriers Association’s Best Fleets to Drive For list, Central Oregon Truck Company (COTC)had a driver turnover rate of 94%. The company wanted to do better and found their clunky, complicated driver web portal was part of the problem. To help resolve their issues, the carrier built a custom mobile app offering the exact functionality drivers needed. The app includes step-by-step workflows, turn-by-turn voice navigation, digital permit access, detailed pay information, and more – all available outside the cab on the driver’s personal mobile device. The app also focuses on improving driver engagement by allowing them to share facility knowledge with colleagues and participate in mentoring programs. 

To COTC’s delight, the strategy worked. Following the app’s release, retention improved 18% — a statistic Central Oregon Truck Company credits to their new mobile driver app. 

Problem #5: Improving Driver Satisfaction

For Knight-Swift, technology was hindering driver satisfaction. Drivers had to navigate multiple in-cab systems to manage different tasks. Each required separate training, passwords, and updates. To simplify the drivers’ experience, the company developed a custom app that integrated disparate technologies into one easy-to-use platform accessible via a smartphone or tablet.

Driver-favorite features include document scanning for faster pay and an innovative approach to route planning. The app allows drivers to select fuel stops based on personal preferences such as cleaner showers or restaurant menus while adhering to company cost considerations. 

The simplified workflow and added autonomy immediately boosted driver satisfaction. Knight-Swift now benefits from a turnover rate that is well below the national average for large fleets. 

Trucking Troubles? There’s an App for That

Custom mobile driver apps tackle some of the industry’s biggest challenges. But perhaps even more important, they have the flexibility to allow fleets to take on their most important issues using technology tailored to their specific business needs. 

See this article for more examples of how the nation’s top fleets maximize the benefits of custom apps.

With Eleos by their side, more carriers are saying, “There’s an app for that.” Request a demo and learn more about our problem-solving possibilities for fleets across North America.

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