A new app allows logistics providers to book truck drivers directly. Justin Clarke, CEO of F|Staff, explains how it works. A finalist in the 2019 Supply Chain Innovation Awards competition.
SCB: What was the genesis of this idea? And what was the challenge that you faced in developing it?
Clarke: I’ve been trying to solve this problem for 18 years, working with carriers and truck drivers to figure out what it takes to match them together. A lot of variables come into play. The genesis was that on-demand and marketplace technologies are taking off, but nobody in our industry was solving the problem of a motor carrier needing to find a truck driver right now. We wanted to provide that environment for our customers.
SCB: Is it similar to what we've seen with rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft?
Clarke: This gives you a little more control. Unlike Uber and Lyft, where you're asking for a driver and a vehicle to come pick you up, the app only calls out for a driver. The driver's coming to drive your vehicle. It’s a driver-centric solution, so drivers can find the work that they're looking for, and don’t have to have a truck to do the job.
SCB: You’re drawing from a limited pool of vetted drivers?
Clarke: Correct. For 18 years we’ve done this kind of work for our clients. We pre-vet and pre-screen every truck driver that makes it to the marketplace, the same as if we were staffing in the traditional way. It's really no different in the way we do it on the compliance side. We just make the employees and carriers able to see each other more regularly, and communicate more freely.
SCB: Where does States Logistics come into the picture?
Clarke: There are always a certain number of early adopters for new technologies. We've had a good ongoing relationship with States Logistics since about 2005. We talked to them about this problem, and how we were looking at it differently and wanted them to start interacting with the technology in the early phases. We have several other clients that are using this service as well.
SCB: The drivers are employed by F|Staff?
Clarke: Full-time, W-2, so we're taking taxes out. They're covered under our workers' compensation program. They’re offered our medical benefits programs and platforms. They're traditionally employed with the staffing agency as leased employees to States Logistics, which owns the trucks.
SCB: How widespread is the project geographically?
Clarke: Because States Logistics is geographically located in Southern California and Arizona, those are the areas where we've tested out the software. You’re looking at a total population of 45-50 drivers that have been on-boarded and off-boarded. We help States to ramp up and down according to its needs.
SCB: Does the app work equally well for long-haul transportation?
Clarke: At the end of the day, it's like any empty seat. If there's one for a local move, it works perfectly. If there's a need for an over-the-road candidate to take a run from Los Angeles to Chicago, the platform can just as easily fill that job.
SCB: Describe how the process works.
Clarke: I’m going to open the app. I’ve predetermined what type of driver I’m looking for. I order a driver for Thursday at 7:00 a.m. that has flatbed experience and is within a 25-mile radius of my facility. There are further tools and filtering that you can go down beyond that point. Every endorsement is a potential selected filter. The system is designed to find the best match first. It sends the job order only out to the filtered candidates who match your job. Then the first available one to take the job accepts it. Carriers have control, so they can cancel the order at any time. So can the driver. The order is then automatically re-queued to the marketplace.
SCB: The driver decides yes or no. That aspect of it is just like Uber or Lyft.
Clarke: Just like it in that regard. The driver accepts the job on their phone. The carrier is notified that this driver is coming in its direction. The driver then completes the job assignment and clocks in when they get there. When they’re done with the job assignment, they clock out through the app as well, giving the motor carrier immediate visibility into the time it's taken to complete that job. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, it can happen right then and there.
SCB: You talked about a driver that tried to end the job a little later than they were supposed to. The app catches that?
Clarke: No more time-sheet fraud. You're not having any issues with data control or management. The solution removes human error.
SCB: How do the drivers like it?
Clarke: Drivers love this.
SCB: What do they like about it?
Clarke: They get control now. In the old, traditional model, we were always filtering the jobs for them. The carrier would send us a job order and we would reach out to the drivers who we think want this job. We’d have our own ideas about that. Instead of using human filtering, we want to use the software to do that. It won’t filter for something we shouldn't be filtering for. Finding the best candidate is what we're all about. It's giving drivers and carriers exactly what they're looking for.
SCB: How easily does the app scale?
Clarke: Our footprint is mostly in the Southwest — Dallas all the way through to California, and then up the West Coast. But we’re starting to get a lot more requests and markets. We’ve already built a pool of about 15 drivers in Las Vegas. And we're stretching out now a bit farther. We have 10-15 candidates who are available in Chicago. We're working on getting drivers in Tennessee, Atlanta and Florida, so we're rapidly. Based on where the drivers need work and where the carriers need help, that's where we want to be.
The size of the commercial driver staffing industry is nearing a $1-billion market cap. With automation and the changes we're going to experience over the next several years, you won't see a decline in truck driver needs or requirements. More drivers will be required, locally and over the road.
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