Overwhelming market share only tells half the story when it comes to auto transport load boards. The other half is customer-centric innovation. Increasingly, this is being provided by bold new enterprises filling in gaps and addressing problems with smart digital solutions.
Leading from behind
Central Dispatch, the long-established leader of auto transport load boards, is closing out 2019 much the way it came in: by posting hundreds of thousands of more loads than anyone else in the industry.
What’s the problem then?
While a popular load board will always attract Brokers and Carriers, activity is just one of several important factors in establishing a top-tier digital marketplace. Industry haulers, brokers and dispatchers want value more than anything else. And by most reasonable estimates, the Central Dispatch load board—and the business logic that underpins it— doesn’t always measure up in an era of new technologies and emerging competition.
Central Dispatch’s position as the chief conduit between Brokers and Carriers is not in jeopardy at the present time--but there are unmistakable signs of erosion. And while the castle walls aren’t exactly tumbling down, the cracks are more than apparent.
For a long time now CD has rested on its laurels, content to be the industry go-to load board more by default positioning than value or innovation. Owned by a corporate behemoth that’s increasingly distracted by its numerous holdings and acquisitions, many brokers contend that Central has become bloated, inefficient, calcified and worst of all—woefully negligent when it comes to customer-centric enhancements that meet the emerging needs of the marketplace.
Adapt or die (or risk an uncertain future)
And what exactly are some of these customer-centric enhancements?
Well, for starters they’re difference-makers, plain and simple. Things that dispatchers, brokers and owner operators require to save them time and free them from hassle. Any reasonable list would likely include:
- customizable dashboards
- built-in TMS
- digital negotiation tools
- optimized car shipping calculator to generate instant quotes
- the ability to complete transactions online
- backhaul search functionality
- ecosystem apps that simplify and automate dispatch
Central Dispatch currently doesn’t offer such tools, views or benefits—not within a single platform at least. And its reluctance to invest the capital and the resources to create a better value proposition for customers is having an adverse effect on many of its habitual users.
Truckers, brokers and money left on the table
Let’s say you’re an owner operator. You’ve just dropped off a load in Hoffman Estates, IL, and are looking for a haul back to Dayton, OH. You see a decent load at an acceptable price on the Central Dispatch load board. OK, all good so far. But it’s 6:00 p.m. local time and the broker isn’t picking up. You try again. Nothing. With no digital way to close the deal, you start your truck up and head back on the return haul empty handed. Money left on the table. Cars left unshipped. Broker and carrier both out of luck.
Finalizing deals via the phone—the only current way you can negotiate or even conduct business through Central’s load board--just doesn’t cut it in 2019. Digital isn’t just a cool buzzword—it’s the preferred way to move loads quickly and efficiently.
And in this industry, you can never say enough about efficiency and saving time.
About that time-saving thing...
When shippers/brokers and carriers/drivers save time, they also save money. They can leverage their “freed up” time for important activities like putting more human capital back into their business, expand operations, develop new products and offer upgraded services, etc. As it turns out, Central Dispatch’s antiquated platform is making things difficult for a whole lot of hardworking folks trying to get ahead.
The first question to ask is: Do they realize it?
The inevitable next question has to be: If they do, what are they doing about it?
On a practical level, it would seem not a whole lot.
Sure, their load board remains the chief destination for posted vehicles and interested parties are still showing up in droves to conduct business. Money flows into their coffers, deals are routinely made. Absent an overriding incentive, the status quo is embraced. But these dealers, brokers, dispatchers, carriers and drivers have begun to grumble, ask pointed questions and in some instances, leave altogether.
The upstarts have noticed. The disrupters have moved in. The game, quite frankly, is beginning to change—for the better.
Enter the disruptors
Disruptors? Perhaps. Smart, savvy companies with a keen understanding of the marketplace and a customer-centric approach to all things auto transport? Yes, and yes please!
While there are several hungry companies looking to seize market share from CD and establish a winning brand, one enterprising upstart with a passionate team of problem-solving experts and a complete vision for the future is Ship.Cars. We’ve brought bold strategies, new platforms and advanced applications to the marketplace while reinventing expectations on both the shipper and the carrier side of the equation. Featuring an elegant and versatile Shipper TMS for order management and dispatching purposes, a next-generation pricing engine called Calcatron, and an increasingly popular and simplified Market Load Board, we’ve responded to the lethargy of CD and the high costs of jTracker with a robust and visionary assault on the auto transport status quo.
Ship.Cars knows that to move cars quickly, we need to empower all the players at the table. Simply stated, we’re agnostic towards the various “ends” of our end-to-end solution. We don’t play favorites and we don’t serve a sprawling monopoly. We want everyone to play fair. We want everyone to win.
We’re simply leveraging the cloud to create a better industry information superhighway that’s certifiably hassle-free. Brokers and carriers asked for seamless digital access to each other, and we gave it to them. With an active loadboard of over 10,000 users, more cars are being shipped at better rates in less time. Most impressive, all parties can now complete transactions online, recouping valuable time and guaranteeing deals close quickly and loads move on schedule.
Suddenly...everyone’s happy. The customer is happy because he knows he’ll get his car on time. The owner operator has found a load for his truck at the right price—he’s good. And the broker has tapped into a smart, customizable TMS with a built-in, next-generation pricing tool that generates the most competitive quotes in the industry in the least amount of time—so he’s also in a happy place.
Cars are being shipped. Time is being saved. Days are being won.
And yes, businesses are growing.
A brief history of now
At Ship.Cars we know things are always changing. We know that to become a leader--and remain there—you need to not only offer superior products to the marketplace, but also maintain an exceptional customer-centric approach to the business. Whenever we’re speaking to industry pain points and helping customers overcome them, we’re doing our job right. It’s simple: Our tools help customers maximize opportunities for business success.
Q#1: Is CD prioritizing the customer in the same way?
Q#2: What’s their five-year plan to retain customers, deliver on automation and bring parity and transparency to the car-hauling marketplace?
The silence so far is deafening.
As Ship.Cars continues to evolve, leadership is mindful of when to pause and when to leap. Truthfully, we don’t think we can be all things to all people. Maybe some folks still prefer the paper-driven office and the clustered comfort that provides—we’re not for them. Perhaps some companies look to us for all their freight-shipping needs. We’re flattered. But as of 2019 that’s not part of our business model. We're a young, hungry, strategically resourceful data-driven tech company that’s all in when it comes to discovering new ways to ship cars fast and move loads more efficiently.
What we do, we do for you
We’re not your father’s load board. We’re Ship.Cars and we’re fueled by a vision to create useful, innovative, easy-to-use apps and platforms that you can deploy quickly to make your job easier, less taxing and more profitable.
And while we have much work to do going forward, out of the gate we think we’re doing a pretty good job!