THE FLEET MANAGEMENT HAS BEEN AN INVALUABLE TOOL TO ANALYZE OUR LANES
“The program has allowed us to track costs closer than we’ve ever tracked costs. Being able to pull up profitability by truck, the lanes that we run, empty miles between the lanes – there are so many analytical things that we’re able to pull up in the system to try and help with reducing costs or increasing profit.”
Regal Service Company operates approximately 100 power units out of Ripley, New York. The 40 year-old business hauls grocery and food products as well as engines and automotive products. Regal’s CFO, CPA Carol Uglow, spoke to us about their Axon Software experience.
I’m Carol Uglow, CFO of Regal Service Co. located in Ripley, NY.
Tell us what led you to start looking for new software.
I have been associated with the company for over 20 years. I was an independent outside accountant for the company. About nine years ago I became an inside accountant for the company, and at that point one of my focuses was to switch our software. Our software at the time was an extremely old package that worked, but it was very limited in the functions that I could perform.
Our search for new software was a long, thought-out process, and I did a lot of shopping around. It’s difficult to find a completely integrated software system, and we needed a system that would go from dispatch all the way through to accounting. That’s one of the things that set Axon apart.
At the time I was searching, there were many dispatch software options; there were many accounting software options, but they were separate. I was a hard sell because it took a long time to get to the point of being able to make the decision, which I did not make lightly.
We went live with Axon a little over three years ago, and ironically, three weeks into our conversion, our old system completely crashed. We would have been completely devastated had we not had Axon.
I’m so thankful that Axon was the direction that I chose. Basically, the complete integration of functions in Axon was the deciding point for me.
How has Axon Software affected your office workload?
We found pretty quickly that with the software we were able to redistribute jobs when people left the company. It certainly saved us from having to add personnel – I’d say probably between four and five positions. Axon software has paid for itself, just in personnel savings over the last three years.
The summer before we went live, I basically lived here, but I’ve seen my time and quality of life improve as the time has gone on. And there were a lot of manual schedules done in the past that Axon’s able to do.
Has Axon Software changed the way you relate to your customers?
One of the greatest changes has been with the receivables. Because of the economy, we’re spending a lot more time with receivable collections, and the feature of being able to email the subsidiary ledger directly to customers has certainly been a help.
A lot of times our customers will call and ask for information about a particular run we have done or how many pounds we have run for them. All we need to do is go into the reports, customize the information that they’re looking for, and send it off to them.
What would you say to someone reluctant to move from their generic accounting system to Axon Software?
That’s one of the major reasons that I switched to Axon. I’m a CPA, and I’ve been in accounting for well over 25 years. I started out my career going from company to company and looking at different accounting systems and evaluating them.
When I got involved in choosing the software here, one of my biggest issues was to make sure that it was completely integrated – that once an order was placed in dispatch, accounting-wise, everything flowed through.
I’ve worked with accounting systems that were not user friendly, and the worst thing we could’ve had was trying to pull the information from three different programs to get the information that we needed.
Some of the programs that I looked at said they were integrated; however, they used Peachtree® software or QuickBooks® or another off-the-shelf product. With Axon, it’s right within the system. As an accountant, I analyzed a lot of the general ledger accounts within Axon, and there are some really cool features.
What is the feedback that you’re getting from staff about the operations side of Axon Software?
When I first started this whole process, all of our dispatch had been a manual process, and some of our dispatchers had absolutely no idea how to even use a computer. We go live and all of a sudden it’s a sink-or-swim type of situation, and I’m telling you it’s amazing the progression in those three years.
If our computers go down, you should see those guys now. It’s like we’ve taken their baby away. They’ve not only signed on to the program, but they’ve migrated from wanting to do everything manually to looking at Axon and how it can be used to avoid the manual work. If you could have seen them three years ago and look at them now; it’s amazing.
Is Axon Software helping you with your fuel tax and driver settlements?
For IFTA purposes, it’s easy. All we do is generate the form from Axon. And because we have the ability to single out an individual piece of equipment, we’re able to give our independent contractors their own separate IFTA tax report, and we refund them or charge them just as we do the government with our company-wide reports.
Settlements are easy to use; they’re easy for the drivers and the independent contractors to understand. At the end of the year I’m able to develop reports within your system to summarize information that they need, such as fuel purchases and expenses for the year, separated out by type of expenses. They can take that to their accountant and their tax reporting is basically done.
If a driver came in with a question about his settlements in the past, we would have to physically pull out the settlement that’s been finalized and look at the bills. Now, all we have to do is reprint the settlement right in Axon, and, if we need to, we can go right into the order. It’s so much easier than trying to track down a paper copy of the information.
Did you find Axon Software easy to use?
Yes. Absolutely fantastic. In our previous system, our billing screen was four or five screens long, and, if you made a mistake in your first field, you had to tab all the way through the entire thing to even be able to get back to the initial mistake. We moved from that to something that we can add, edit, and move around in easily. The ease of use is pretty awesome.
Are there other features that have proven beneficial to you?
One of the greatest features within the program, that has helped us the most, is the equipment revenue report. We use that as our base, and we analyze revenue and cost per mile and miles per gallon for each truck. It almost became a competition amongst the drivers because we were posting information that we pulled off the computers on the trucks and coordinating that with the information that Axon was producing.
If there’s a piece of information that you want to gather from Axon, you can build a report for whatever it is that you’re looking for. For example, I have a report that I present at our managers’ meeting each week, which is revenue per mile broken down between freight that we’ve billed, accessorial costs that we’ve billed, fuel that we’ve billed, miles that we’ve billed versus miles that it actually took us to run.
It’s been an invaluable tool to be able to analyze the lanes and what lanes are causing dead heads that we need to work on, what customers we have that have given us a number of miles that we’re allowed to bill for versus the number of miles it actually takes to run that load, and so on.
We get daily reports on customers that we need to keep an eye on. If there’s a customer that I’m really getting suspicious on whether we should be extending further credit, I put pop ups in the business partners that automatically pop up and say, ‘Hey, don’t take a load until you run a new credit report.’ That type of information is invaluable.
The program has allowed us to track costs closer than we’ve ever tracked costs. Being able to pull up profitability by truck, the lanes that we run, empty miles between the lanes – there are so many analytical things that we’re able to pull up in the system to try and help with reducing costs or increasing profit.