From expanded customer service to increased Web site tools, president Mark Seymour explains how Kriska is growing by building stronger client partnerships in an exclusive interview.
TN: This is the fourth year in a row you’ve been recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies. This period included some of the better years for our industry and some of the worst. In your view what does it say about Kriska that it has been able to win the award through thick and thin?
Seymour: I would like to think that it’s a testament to our business practices and the commitment that our people make to the success of our organization. The last couple of years have been extremely challenging for our industry and we were not immune from the difficulties. I really think the award is recognition of our business practices and the commitment of our people.
TN: You’ve recently expanded your customer service department. How have shipper demands for information changed over the past five years and how do you see them continuing to evolve?
Seymour: There has been a lot of download to the supplier. The traditional phone call of " I need a truck to pick up tomorrow to deliver a load whenever you can get it there" has radically changed with so much information required on a pick-up and on the delivery and appointment. Consistency is important and forming a relationship where customer service becomes very familiar with the customer. Expanding customer service to create that intimacy is critically important to a successful execution of a smooth transaction. We’re not banking on getting 8 out of 10 right. You have to get 10 out of 10 right.
TN: Kriska is a significant player in the temperature control business. What impact will the new FDA pre-notification regulations have on your business? Seymour: If you are going to play in food internationally, it’s a concept you are going to have accept and administer. The problems so far have been very few. When they set up the new initiative we made the commitment to dedicate the resources to manage it efficiently. The last thing you want to do is stick your head in the sand until the day you have to do it and then expect it to be painless.
TN: You have also enrolled in all the new border security programs. Such programs only work, however, if shippers are also enrolled. How are your customers coming along in that respect?
Seymour: It’s slow but the pace will quicken as the impact of detention becomes better understood. I don’t think it’s any secret the new U.S. hours of service regulations have placed a premium on driver time and caused our industry to look very seriously at non-driving tasks that create inefficiency. The speed with which trucks can cross the border is critical to efficiency and. FAST is a program designed to make the border efficient. Inefficiency is going to create detention, which is going to be seen as a wasted cost. We are charging our customers for detention. Any steps that can be taken to minimize delays is in the best interest of our customers.
TN: Kriska was recently presented with the Bowater Best Carrier Award in recognition of the transportation service you provide for this newsprint supplier, which considers cost control a priority. In your view what’s the best way a motor carrier can help its customers address their cost concerns while at the same time be able to produce a decent profit for itself?
Seymour: Bowater conducts business with its carriers in a very efficient manner. There are no delays in the ways trucks are loaded and information is communicated. In the case of customers who are not as efficient, it’s important for them to listen to their motor carriers and see how they can potentially be more efficient. It could be very subtle changes. Ultimately the cost of moving product isn’t just related to distance and time. The way in which shippers conduct themselves at the border, the way they load trucks, the way their customers receive trucks all can create inefficiencies, which create costs. If customers are not willing to deal with the inefficiencies they create for their motor carriers then they are not forming strong relationships and end up churning through a lot of carriers.
TN: You are in the process of redesigning your Web site to be "steps closer to our customers". Can you elaborate?
TN: We are giving our customers access to our Web site to view information such as POD, status of shipment, position of truck, and customer-specific designed service reports for a certain period. It allows our customers to be closer to us without having to wait for it. Also, our Pegasus system allows us to take all of our documents — bill of lading, fuel receipts, etc. — and scan them so we have an image and database rather than paper. Such documents contain very important information. For example imaging the POD allows us now to have PODs accessible on our Web site and to create invoices that can be sent by e-mail. It’s a far more efficient way to manage documents.
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