As a company that’s been in business 40 years and has grown every step of the way, Averitt Express has no thoughts about resting on its laurels. The Cookeville, Tenn.-based company (CCJ Top 250, No. 26) continues to seek ways to push ahead and set itself apart from the pack.
Averitt operates at 143 locations and serves thousands of points throughout the Southern United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, and has an international reach to more than 100 countries. The company is a founding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay partner and a member of The Reliance Network, a team of carriers that provides seamless less-than-truckload services throughout North America.
Besides LTL, Averitt’s service offerings also include cross border/domestic offshore, dedicated, expedited, intermodal, international ocean/air, local customization, transportation management, truckload (dry van, flatbed, brokerage), warehousing and value-added benefits such as a centralized call center, performance metrics and an ongoing focus on “green” sustainability efforts.
Averitt’s technology capabilities include a full suite of Web-based shipping tools, electronic data interchange and transportation and operations management systems. But the company always continues to search for ways to hasten the freight delivery process, from the initial shipper’s request to final invoice.
“The input we get from our customers is invaluable as we continue to find ways to improve our service and provide them with value-added benefits,” says Phil Pierce, executive vice president of sales.
To that end, Averitt recently launched its redesigned AverittExpress.com, which the company describes as the industry’s first 100 percent mobile-enabled website.
Every shipping tool available on the site – literally dozens – was reformatted to be mobile-friendly across all types of devices, including smartphones and tablets. Averitt says this aspect makes the new site unique among transportation providers in its class.
“Redesign really doesn’t accurately describe the process our team has spent on this project, listening to customer feedback and applying it to a website that works no matter what you’re using to access it,” Pierce says.
The decision to revamp the site was driven by Averitt’s commitment to being an information technology leader in the transportation industry, Pierce says. “We’re constantly looking for ways to make our website faster and easier to use,”hesays.“Plus,wecontinuetosee more customers accessing our site using smartphones and tablets. So instead of just creating a single app with access to three or four tools, we decided on a more forward-thinking vision. Mobile flexibility on this scale is unprecedented in the industry.”
Developers spent months completely rebuilding the site using an approach known as responsive Web design, which is aimed at crafting websites that provide an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling – across a wide range of devices, from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors.
“The entire process took about a year and a half,” Pierce says. “About half of that was research and planning, while the other half was design, testing and implementation.”
The redesign’s focus was to provide a better user experience by offering faster speeds, simplified navigation, expanded tracking tools, easy-to-follow tutorials to explain how specific tools work, more video and interactive media as well as improvements to Ship Plus, Averitt’s one-stop online shipping interface.
Customers also can view a calculator and map to determine transit times, and use a density calculator to determine rate quotes for the most timely and cost- effective method of shipping – standard or volume LTL, truckload or expedited.
“We completely rebuilt the site to improve speed, reliability and ease of use,” Pierce says. “Once we finished with that, we renovated the rest of the site to make it much more modern and easier for our associates and customers to use.”
Pierce says Averitt has received “tremendous positive feedback” from customer surveys conducted since the new website’s launch. Customer comments have included “smashing,” “user-friendly and easy on the eyes,” “very easy to navigate,” “takes the place of an app,” “all the information you would ever need right at your fingertips” and “the easiest of all the carrier websites I use.”
To further help its customers tighten efficiencies and improve cash flow, Averitt also has rolled out expanded electronic billing options. The company’s customers now can receive invoices via email directly to their inbox.
Averitt’s “Paperless Invoicing” tools are designed to save its shippers time and money. By receiving electronic invoices by email and viewing open invoices online, shippers can bill their customers more quickly, as well as have total control over managing invoices online.
“Having invoices sent directly to their email inbox was something many of our customers expressed an interest in,” Pierce says. In addition to receiving invoices via email, Averitt customers also can view current invoices online as they are updated in real time; search for invoices by pickup date, PRO number, bill of lading number, purchase order number or invoice date; and access or email associated shipping documents such as delivery receipts, bills of lading, load confirmation and expedited contracts.
“Anticipating and responding to our customers’ needs helps us get better at being a full-service provider for them,” Pierce says.
The technology enhancements haven’t stopped with Averitt’s customers. The company also has made progress with upgrading its recruiting and retention efforts by transferring the majority of those efforts to the mobile realm.
“Smartphones, tablets and other Web-enabled mobile devices are continuing to grow in popularity, and we want to provide as much information as we can to job seekers,” says Ken Chrisman, recruiting leader.
To that end, Averitt recently launched a mobile version of its careers website, AverittCareers.com, designed for people on the go who want to learn about career opportunities with the company.
As a specialized website that targets job seekers, AverittCareers.com is designed to serve as a “one-stop shop” for transportation professionals to learn about Averitt’s culture and competitive benefits package, which includes family medical, prescription, dental and vision coverage.
“By accessing AverittCareers.com on a mobile device, someone can browse our open positions and learn more about all of the benefits of joining the Averitt team,” Chrisman says.
Averitt also recently changed its hiring requirements to provide more opportunities for new professionals ready to expand their driving careers as part of its strategy to open its doors to a younger tech-savvy employment base. The company’s minimum age for regional over-the-road drivers was lowered from 23 to 21.
Also, Averitt kicked off a student driver training program for recent graduates of approved driving schools. The program includes a tuition reimbursement plan of up to $1,000.
“These modifications give us the ability to bring on additional quality drivers who are coming out of driving school,” Chrisman says.
In addition, drivers who have been out of the industry or who are short on experience also can benefit from Averitt’s refresher and supplemental training programs.
“We’re excited about the opportunities we can offer to individuals who are looking to get into the transportation industry,” Chrisman says. “Combined with the student driver, supplemental and refresher course programs we’ve set up in key markets, we’ve bolstered our position as a prime choice for a career in transportation.”