Trucking News – July/August 2020

“WE’VE GROWN BY 50% ADDING TWO MORE BRANCHES AND 40 TRUCKS AND WE HAVE ONLY HAD TO HIRE ONE PERSON.”
“IT’S TREMENDOUS. I THINK WE COULD DO THAT AGAIN AND NOT HIRE ANY MORE PEOPLE.”

Oculus Transport Ltd. is a very successful company operating from multiple locations in Alberta, Canada. We stopped in for an interview with Bob German who gave us more details about how they utilize Axon Software to stay lean and efficient during constant growth and the addition of new branches.

Can you tell us a bit about the company?

The company has been in existence since 2011.

The major shareholder of Oculus was in the oil field trucking business in a previous life, and the time was right to start again. He had sold out once to a public company and it was time to get back in. He still had properties, the shops and yards. He bought the trucks, and away we go. We got started in the trucking business again.

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I’m Bob German, the VP Finance at Oculus Transport Ltd. I’ve been here about four and a half years, although I worked with Ric for many years before that.

Can you talk about making the switch to Axon Software?

We started using Axon about three years ago. March of 2017 was our implementation date. Previous to that, we were using a basic accounting package for software and lots of manual spreadsheets. Nothing was integrated. It was as basic as you could get.

Axon is an integrated system. The best example of that is the revenue stream, right from the bill of lading, the tickets, all the way through to invoicing and collection and reporting your receivables. Everything – it’s an integrated system. Your payroll hours? All that stuff is integrated together, so now you have a database that you can draw data out of and really analyze the business effectively. It’s all in one spot. If you can collect it, you can report on it.

Do you use scheduled reports?

Yes, we do. One of the best examples is analyzing our rates. Our rates are different depending on which run we’re doing, right? Before, we would have to go back and pull bills of lading. It would take hours to say what the average rate was on this run. Because a lot of our rates are cube rates, so depending on how long it takes and all that. . . . What’s the hourly rate?

Now we do it in basically the push of a button. That kind of reporting has really been enhanced. Time is money. I don’t even know if I can measure it, but it’s maybe a hundredth of the time? I remember spending days analyzing rates on routes, and now we can do it every day if we want. It’s simple.

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What other kinds of problems has Axon Software helped you solve?

It has shortened the timeframe and resources needed to do things because it is an integrated system. Responding to customer requests. . . . A lot of our customers want their invoices a certain way. Every customer is a little different. Now we can customize it and give them what they want.

We can report on volumes. We’re dealing with their revenue stream and we are hauling their production. They want to track volumes and what’s going where and all kinds of stuff. We can do that in a heartbeat now, once we set up the reports. You want it monthly? Here it is. It’s literally at the push of a button.

How does the software work from an invoicing standpoint?

The effort required to get the invoice out to the customer has shortened up substantially. We shortened up the invoicing period.

If we can make it easier for the customer to understand what they’re being invoiced for, that helps them pay us. If there are no questions or anything, and if it’s all done up front, then it smooths the payment process.

Has Axon Software helped you to reduce the office workload?

We’ve grown by two branches and 40 trucks, which is by 50%. We have only had to hire one person to handle both branches.

Call it economy of scale, call it efficiency. . . . It’s tremendous. I think we could do that again and not hire any more people, depending on the location.

There is a lot of reporting on volume that is required out of those two branches in terms of the fluids that we are moving for our customers. It’s probably more intense than our other branches, and it’s all handled by one person.

One admin person handles all the billing, all the invoicing, all the payables, all of the payroll. The information is readily available in the system. She would not have been able to do that otherwise. There would be spreadsheet hell, duplicate and quadruple re-entering in different places.

That’s the beauty of an integrated system like Axon. You enter it once and then you can get it.

Is the staff happier?

Yes, because I mentioned spreadsheet hell? We don’t have that anymore. Things that would take hours to do now take minutes to do. . . and it’s accurate all the time. Spreadsheets, when there is something wrong you have to go and find it. We don’t have that anymore.

If we get questions from customers that need to be answered, we can readily and quickly answer them. If you can service your customers quickly, then your customers are happy, and you are happy. Morale is better.

From a return-on-investment perspective, has Axon Software paid for itself?

Oh, within a year, maximum. Probably sooner than that. Axon pays for itself every year multiple times.

How does Axon Software compare to other software you’ve used from a support standpoint?

All I know is my experience. I’m not a hands-on system guy, but I sat in on all the implementation and training to make sure things were going smoothly.

The time it took from when we went live to when things were running smooth was only a couple of months. That’s very unique for a system conversion like that.

Axon’s training staff and their whole support group were fantastic during that. It was way smoother than I had anticipated. The biggest part is getting people on side with change. You have to have management involved in it to get support from the group. The Axon training team worked well.

Axon is a great system. It is a specialized transportation system. It just fits the pistol perfectly. It does everything we want to do, and probably way more than we need, but we’ll discover other things that will make us way more efficient yet.

If an industry peer asked about your experience with Axon Software, what would you say?

First rate. Excellent. Right from the get go, when we were first evaluating systems. We spent time with Axon and they explained the demo, right through training and implementation. The follow-up support has been first rate.

CHECKING AVAILABILITY

Your dispatchers need to know which tractors and drivers can be assigned to a new transaction, so Axon makes sure they have that information at their fingertips.

If a driver is on holidays or a tractor is unavailable because it’s in for repairs, that information will be displayed on the dispatching screen for the relevant time period. Similarly, the dispatching screen will show drivers or tractors who have been pre-booked on a project.

TICKET MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

Do you work in the oilfield or construction or haul aggregate? Axon’s ticket management software helps specialized trucking companies maximize productivity and manage large projects.

Maximize Productivity

The software is designed to help you manage large volumes of tickets as efficiently as possible. You can:

  • Tailor the ticket screen by tabbing over/hiding certain fields, setting up default values, or adding custom fields.
  • Attach digital photographs, spreadsheets, and documents directly to the ticket.
  • Assign or track work on the dispatching screen.
  • Use satellite GPS technology to notify you when your tractors enter or exit key locations.
  • Customize your invoices by grouping tickets in whatever way works best for you.

Manage Large Projects

Axon software simplifies the administration of large-scale, multi-ticket projects (both bid contracts and ones based on time and materials). You can:

  • Track the total cost, the profit or loss, and the work that has been completed or is still waiting to be done.
  • Pre-book equipment and drivers and display the information on the dispatching screen.
  • Take advantage of ready-made report options to prepare estimates, provide drivers or contractors with a copy of the dispatch information, and review invoices.
  • Track any issues you may have had with a project (e.g. equipment problems, delays).
DOING THE MATH

Global – Summarize is a convenient tool for carrying out some basic calculations, such as counting the number of records in a table. You can also use it to identify the largest invoice for a specific customer by choosing their Maximum invoice amount.

Use Cross Table if you want to see the maximum for each of your customers.

If you frequently use the same set of Summarize options, you can use Presets to save it to use again on another occasion.

Select: If you have been using Select, Global will only take into account the records that match the Select

ALTERNATE MILEAGE TABLE ROUTES

If you’re using Mileage Tables to set the mileage between various origin and destination cities, you may have found that you don’t always want to use the direct route.

Enter the names of your alternate routes on the Mileage Table Routes screen (e.g. Best Roads, Toll Free). Then enter the details of your alternate routes on the Mileage Tables screen (e.g. origin/destination, mileage).

When the Mileage Table Route is filled in or chosen on an order, it will be matched up to what is entered here so that the mileages for the correct route are used on the order.

You can set up a default mileage table route for a business

partner on the Business Partners » Trucking tab » General tab. It will fill in automatically on the Orders screen if the Mileage Option is set to T for Table but can be changed.

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WHY DOES MY BALANCE SHEET APPEAR TO BE OUT OF BALANCE?

There are a number of reasons why your Balance Sheet may appear to be out of balance. We suggest checking the following:

  • Print a Trial Balance Report using the same As of date as the Balance Sheet and confirm that your debits and credits match. This means you really are in balance
  • If your financial statement has been organized by Statement Group, check and make sure that all your GL accounts have a corresponding Statement Group (Financial » Chart of Accounts)
  • Check to see if you have created any new Statement Groups (Financial » Statement Groups) as Statement Groups are often used to organize your financial statements
  • Call Axon Support at 1-888-558-5050 for assistance if you are unable to resolve the problem
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