AXON SAVES US 3 SALARIES
"If we didn't have Axon basically running our business, I would need at least 3 more employees in my office to take care of what Axon does. At minimum... If we added 10 or 12 trucks, it would just be a matter of entering them in the system. I would need no extra employees and no extra time."
SPS Trucking of Sarnia, Ontario, has had steady success through over 30 years and all types of economic conditions. We spoke with Vince Caschera, the Fleet Operations Manager, to hear how they were able to leverage Axon Software to double the size of their ﬂeet, from 15 to 30, with the same oﬃce staﬀ.
I’m Vincent Caschera, Fleet Operations Manager at SPS Trucking, from Sarnia, Ontario.
My name is Vince Caschera. I’m the ﬂeet operations manager for SPS Trucking here in Sarnia, Ontario. We are located 15 minutes from the US border.
Mostly what we do is haul waste across the border. We have 7-axle walking ﬂoors – a ﬂeet of about 30 tractors and 40-50 trailers. It’s a family-run organization. I’ve got a couple of aunts in the oﬃce and cousins out in the yard. We have about 50 employees, all of them in the Sarnia area. We help the community quite a bit, giving back as much as we can.
My dad started the business about 30 years ago, just out of high school, as a construction company. We got up to four crews doing much of the city work here around town. We got into dump trucks to supply our construction business and the dump trucks got busier and busier.
Then we noticed that the seasonal changes were really big. In the summer, we were really busy. In the wintertime, not as busy. We wanted to ﬁnd a niche in the economy that was full year-round.
When the recession happened, in 2005 I believe, it hurt a lot of the industry. We noticed that the waste industry kept going, so a lot of our dump trucks were sold oﬀ and we got into the waste business. One truck turned into two, which turned into four, which turned into 10. It continued from there.
We’ve been operating for the past 31 years, continuously diversifying, growing, and using Axon.
We started using Axon in 2012, before I started here full -time. We use it every minute of every single day for all of our business functions. We do a lot of diﬀerent things, and it’s able to integrate everything into one easy-to-use system.
We do so many diﬀerent kinds of haulage in diﬀerent places. Axon handles it all the same. There are no issues with us using it at all – it’s great.
If you added 10 or 12 trucks to your ﬂeet, would your oﬃce staﬀ have to change?
Not at all. Not at all. If we added 10 or 12 trucks, it would just be a matter of entering them in the system and, no, I would need no extra employees. It would be no extra time. It’s very simple. We could add and delete, no problem. No extra work really needs to be done.
We run a pretty skeleton crew in the office because of the program. If we didn’t have Axon, all my offices would be packed with people doing tons of different things. But with Axon, it’s all in one. It’s very easy to use.
Do you have mainly company equipment or owner operators as well?
We’re all company equipment, so we only use the company-only features on the program. That being said, like I said before, it’s plug and play. You put the information in, tell it where you want it to go, and it does it by itself. All the accounting, all the billing, everything. It’s very simple.
Do the drivers like their settlements?
Yeah. It’s very easy, because a lot of the drivers do the same job every day. So it’s very easy for them to outline if anything is different or if anything is out of the ordinary. It’s very easy to see line-by-line. They know exactly what they’re doing, and the paperwork backs it up.
Can you talk about how you manage all of your different areas with Axon?
We have a different company division that we manage called Waste Depot. That is our transfer station and bin hauling business. We take the customers’ pay and all their accounts through Waste Depot, and they get entered in Axon for recording.
It makes it very simple because before Axon it was all on spreadsheets and manual pieces of paper, which was a nightmare. We kicked that to the curb really quick and got on the phone with Axon, and they integrated it all for us. Now it’s separated. We can see exactly what was done, what their productions are, what their shortcomings are. Very easy to find.
A couple of months ago, we started doing the bins. We’re only up to one truck and 40 bins, which is enough for now, but it’s all dispatched from our scale house. Our scale house writes up the order on a ticket. The ticket gets put in an envelope at the end of the day, submitted to the office here, and then the office puts all the details into Axon for accounting purposes.
Has Axon helped you improve your customer relations?
I know that with customers in the past, there were issues with billing mishaps. We’d bill them for the wrong amount, or we’d send the bill to the wrong customer, or some units weren’t lined up where they were supposed to be. We were getting a lot of complaints from customers.
But with Axon, it’s very easy to set it up so there are no mistakes. We have dedicated customers, our system is set up, and we do the same thing pretty well day to day. There are no issues. No complaints. The customer service alone is way improved.
Has the Axon reporting system helped you run your business?
It’s very, very good. With it being easy to input information, there are no mistakes. All our decisions are based on information that we get from the program. That’s how we make our decisions – which avenues to go down, which equipment to buy, equipment to sell, what’s working, and what’s not working.
If the information itself wasn’t correct, we would make very wrong decisions which would obviously destroy the business. But with Axon being so user-friendly, so easy to use, the information we get is pinpoint. Using that pinpoint information is how we base our decisions, future progress, and plans. Everything is based off the reports that we run.
Has COVID affected you guys?
Well, knock on wood, we have maintained pretty steady throughout COVID. We have changed a little bit with the way we do things. With people-to-people interaction, a lot more of the paperwork is digital rather than, like we used to, handling scale tickets for the landfills and customers.
Now, through Axon, we email it out. We’re going to do that going forward because it’s way easier. It streamlines it way better. Way quicker.
How have you found Axon's customer service?
The customer service with Axon is very easy. If we need a report made, or if we have a technical issue, call Axon. We know we’re going to get a call, if not right away, within an hour or two, with all the information we need. They can hook right into our computers and figure it out.
Do you find the software easy to use?
You don’t need any computer background. One of the people in the office here gave me a crash course on how to use it. I had never used it before. You can pick up all that you would need every day in half an hour.
Even a small thing like inputting equipment. It seems like a big deal, but in Axon, you just copy word for word and fill in some slots. When you’re done editing, all that information is transferred to everything you need. Transferred to the ACI, transferred to the orders, transferred to equipment lists. Everything you need gets recorded.
How is the return on investment? How quickly does Axon pay for itself?
Instantly. Every hour that isn’t staffed by an employee is savings.
When we started with Axon, we had 15 units and six or seven people in the office. Now, we are at 30 units with the same amount of office staff. And actually, they are working way easier than they were back when everything was pen and paper.
I bet you that if we didn’t have Axon, I would need three extra people in the office to cover what Axon does. So that savings is anywhere from $40-60 an hour, times however many hours, times however many days. It’s pretty well limitless at this point.