Connell Transport Company Ltd.

“Our employees are happier and we probably saved over $100,000.00 in our first year with Axon.”

Connell Transport Company Ltd. is a liquid bulk carrier from Hamilton, Ontario. They operate about 35 power units and 75 trailers servicing the northeast to midwest US, Quebec, and Ontario. Connell’s Vice President, Peter MacMillan, spoke to us about their Axon experience.

Before Axon, how were you managing your company?

“We were using a lot of shoe boxes with piles of paper and doing it manually. We billed with QuickBooks®. We did our accounting on Simply Accounting®.

“As the company grew and got bigger, it just became more and more of a problem to try and sort out the paperwork. We found we were missing invoicing customers and our only check on invoicing was to see if we paid the driver and, if the driver didn’t ask for something, we could potentially not invoice a customer.”

What led you to start looking for new software?

“Our constant state of confusion and the lack of speed at which we could process invoices. We were doing all our invoicing in the last week of the month, trying to sort out piles of paper and figure out what we had to invoice.

“Really, the billing was probably our first trigger. We couldn’t keep up with the volume of billing that we had to do and keep the paperwork sorted out.”

Tell us about your experience with Axon.

“Axon has been excellent. We started in June of last year and, like any software package, you don’t just install it on the first of June, press the button, and suddenly all your problems go away and you can send everybody home on Thursday because there’s no more work.

“However, we have become very dependent on the billing and the order/entry system in Axon. I would say we’re probably using less than 30% of the power of the software at this point in time, but our billing has gone from a constant nightmare to a one-day-a-week process.

“Our sales are tracked on a daily and weekly basis so we have an idea in the middle of the month whether we’re in the middle of a disaster or a very good month, and Axon is solely responsible for sorting out our billing issues.”

Has Axon solved any issues with your driver and owner operator settlements?

“Our driver settlements have seamlessly worked into Axon and improved that situation moderately because we have some computer records that we didn’t have before.

“Owner operators are a completely different story because they’re primarily paid on a percentage of the loads and, if you don’t bill the load, you don’t have a percentage to pay them. Now, with the billing intact, reports flow from billing over to the driver and owner operator settlements, and it’s excellent.

“The owner operator settlements are half the work that they used to be.”

Has Axon improved the productivity in your office?

“ We’ve grown dramatically, in the last year, probably more than 30%.

“Our accountant/controller is looking to take her job down to three or four days a week instead of five because she’s got some other issues she wants to pursue, and we’re not going to have to replace her at all. We’ve taken enough off her plate that we’re able to allow her to reduce her hours dramatically.

“ We’ve hired no new office staff in the last year, and we’re really only using a third of the power of the system.”

You’ve grown 30% since June. Would you have been able to do that with your old software?

“We would have been able to grow it 30% without Axon. The problem is, we would never have sent anybody a bill or collected any money and eventually would have gone bankrupt. So really, ‘no’ would be the answer.

“We couldn’t have done it without Axon, and I’m looking forward to getting the rest of the system up and running so we can continue to see some more savings.”

Peter McMillan - Connell TransportOwner operators are a completely different story because they’re primarily paid on a percentage of the loads and, if you don’t bill the load, you don’t have a percentage to pay them. Now, with the billing intact, reports flow from billing over to the driver and owner operator settlements, and it’s excellent. – Peter McMillan

How has the staff morale been affected with Axon?

“It’s dramatically improved the office staff morale. They love the system. There were some order entry frustrations in our dispatch system because they had to learn a new system as opposed to writing it on a white board and Post-it® notes, which initially seemed quicker but not subsequently better. So at the end of the day, they’re actually very happy with the system, but there was a learning curve and some training to do.”

Can you estimate your return on investment with the Axon system?

“So much is related to the sanity of the employees. Our employees are happier. We’re not buried under paper. We’re not up against billing deadlines.

“Our customers are happier because the invoices are better.

“Actual return on investment? Well, we haven’t had to expand our office staff since we implemented Axon and really, at the rate we were going, we probably would have had three more office staff in order to keep up with the volume so, yes, we probably saved about $100,000.00 in the first year. And our controller is reducing her hours.”

How has Axon helped improve or maintain your customer relations?

“Number one, the quality of the invoicing is better. It’s more prompt and it’s more accurate; so that’s good. Even better than that is the tracking of the utilization of our equipment.

“We’re in the tanker business and we haul waste oil, asphalt, tar, and chemicals. Knowing what the trailer did before allows us to easily fit the right trailer to the right job for the customer and allows us to give him a quicker turnaround. Before, if we weren’t sure, we had to send the trailer out to be washed. This is a delay of a day or so.

“Now we can look at the history of that trailer over the last two weeks, discuss it with the customer and, if his product is compatible with what was in the trailer before, then we save the wash for the customer and for ourselves, and we can get on with work much faster.”

How have you found Axon’s support?

“The software support is excellent. Their people are superb, and even when we can’t find the perfect solution to an issue, we manage to come up with a workaround that seems to work for everybody.”

What would you say to someone in the industry who asks you about your experience with Axon?

“I would say it was an excellent experience. A software package system requires some learning. It doesn’t just magically appear on a Monday morning, and the business changes, and we can all go home. The results that we got from the minor amount of effort that we had to put in were superb. The software gives you the ability to do so much.

“What you can get out of it from a management reporting point of view is worth the learning curve of getting used to it. The depth of the product is excellent.

“We’ve been very fortunate. Our company has grown about 30% in the last year, and we have added no office staff since using Axon. We’re very pleased with that fact, and I really don’t think we’re using the full power of Axon yet.

“I expect that as we implement more and more features on the system that we’ll continue to see savings, hopefully in increased growth without adding bodies.”

WebSite: Connell Transport Co. Ltd.

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