On the first afternoon of FreightWaves LIVE @HOME, Craig Fuller, CEO of FreightWaves and Peter Rentschler, CEO of CarrierDirect, candidly discussed the innovation and strategies required for companies to remain agile in a pandemic-struck economy.
“COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the businesses that are architected to move quickly and make fast decisions,” said Rentschler. “We had some clients that spent the first two weeks of the pandemic going to every Best Buy within a 100-mile radius buying laptops. It was outrageous.”
CarrierDirect is a consulting and technology delivery firm for the transportation industry that serves carriers, freight brokers, shippers, distributors and technology companies. It helps companies speed up processes, broaden perspectives and refine operational organization.
Unlike traditional consulting firms that require a couple weeks on the front-end to understand a business and its problems, Rentschler explained that his team has worked across the industry and felt the pain of brokers, carriers and shippers. The consistent quality of a high-performing business is not size, Rentschler said, but the flexibility to react to new environments. For brokers and carriers, that agility isn’t distributed equally.
“A broker can lay off 75% of the office or even shut the whole thing down and typically not have long-term ramifications versus an asset-based carrier,” said Fuller. “They bought the truck or have leased the truck and they’re stuck with it. Even if they do trim the size of their fleet, they still have to have a finite number of safety resources to support their fleet.”
Rentschler believes that in this current environment, leadership teams must be self-aware of where they succeed and fall short, how closely they listen to the needs of their customers and how they utilize information to make changes. COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to breed creativity to cut costs and bolster automation.
“The people that have self-service platforms like the one Book-It-Now implemented – we’ve heard that every week is another record-setting week in terms of page views and engagement, because people are looking for capacity and loads. In the freight brokerage market, everyone needs to prepare for a lower margin future,” said Rentschler.
Fuller sees the brokerage business moving in two directions. The first will focus on internal human capital to pursue high-touch project experiences, and the other will have more digital capital and will be able to handle higher volumes at higher frequency. The middle group, he says, will likely get consolidated.
Rentschler admires companies like J.B. Hunt and Schneider for their investment in technology to get off legacy platforms. He also commends the transparency that FreightWaves brought across the entire industry and market, not without its initial critics.
“We’ve found that the people that lean in and participate are better served than those that say they aren’t going to participate in this data exchange,” said Rentschler. “It’s not about the ideas. It’s about the execution.”
To contact CarrierDirect, go to www.carrierdirect.com for contact forms or find Peter Rentschler on LinkedIn.