Mid-Year Observations on the Auto Transport Industry

July 15th, 2014

At the halfway mark for 2014, we’ve seen some interesting developments in the vehicle transport industry so far. Here’s a quick breakdown from both the haulaway (truck) and rail perspectives.

Truck Driver Safety

In industry language, a “haulaway” is a truck designed for the transportation of automobiles. As safety is of primary importance at MetroGistics, we regularly monitor trends and legislation affecting trucking and driver hours.

The Senate Appropriations Committee recently voted in favor of an amendment proposed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to suspend the hours of service ruling for one year while the Department of Transportation conducts a deeper study of the rule’s impact on safety.

The rule was introduced by the Federal Motor Safety Administration (part of the DOT) and was designed to improve safety on the roads by reducing truck driver fatigue. The rule would have limited the average work week for truckers to 70 hours. Suspension of the rule reinstates the maximum driver work week to 82 hours. Additional rules govern consecutive driving days and appropriate rest periods.

The vote to suspend the rule needs to be passed by the full Senate and then reconciled with the bill in the House of Representatives.

MetroGistics requires all of its contractors to comply with state and federal regulations, including whatever hours of service limits are currently in force. Our proprietary Safer Ship product monitors our carrier base 24/7 via a connection to the DOT/FMCSA to ensure that all our carriers have current and proper levels of insurance and are authorized by the DOT to haul vehicles. Our software checks and monitors compliance nightly.

Rail Transport

A very harsh winter disrupted the rail network in both the United States and Canada. As such, a short railcar supply caused a nationwide backlog across the industry of more than double the average number of vehicles awaiting transport.  The delays caused many vehicles to be stored at various offsite facilities, thus adding to the total transport cost.

While OEM’s traditionally use rail for distances of 200-300 miles or more, the short railcar supply has caused them to look at other vehicle distribution options (such as short-sea shipping from Mexico to the United States)  and found that trucking can even be cost competitive for a radius of 700 miles.

The railroads are projecting a relief in the backlog during the traditional summer auto plant shutdowns.

MetroGistics understands that rail will remain a critical component of the finished vehicle distribution network, and advises our customers accordingly depending on their needs and time frames.

To learn more about these and other vehicle transport trends, or to contact a MetroGistics dispatcher about your specific transport needs, call 877-571-6235, live chat via our home page, or email info@metrogistics.com.

Considerations for Personal Vehicle Transport

June 13th, 2014

There are many reasons why an individual or family might need to have a car transported across the country. New college graduates may need to move their car after landing a job far away. Military personnel get reassigned to different bases constantly. (By the way, MetroGistics offers a 10 percent discount to active and retired military personnel.) Families relocate for career or lifestyle changes, or to be closer to other family members. The list goes on and on.

Likewise, there are many options for auto transport, and each has its advantages and limitations. Following are some considerations for different modes of personal vehicle transport.

Having a friend or family member drive the car

  • This option is free or relatively cheap if you offer some form of reimbursement.
  • Adds miles and road wear to your vehicle.
  • Potentially subject to accidents or theft.
  • Is he or she a good driver? Have they been involved in accidents in the past?
  • Are they insured for liability?

Hiring a professional driver

  • Adds miles and road wear.
  • Still a slight possibility of accident or theft.
  • This option may be best for short distances.
  • The driver should have sufficient liability insurance.
  • Should provide a detailed contract of services rendered.

Transporting by rail

  • Railcar transport is covered and will be less expensive than an enclosed car hauler going distances farther than 750 miles.
  • Most environmentally friendly. Rail transport reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.
  • Transit times will be longer.
  • Railcars take eight to twelve vehicles. Since it’s up to the shipper to fill up the railcar before it ships, it can take longer to fill, thus increasing overall transit time.
  • You may need to arrange for truck-to-terminal and terminal-to-door delivery of your vehicle.
  • Some terminals do not allow for personal pickup of vehicles.

Using a car hauler (truck)

  • Can ship a single vehicle or multiple family vehicles. Drivers in our network can either haul a single vehicle, or build a full load with multiple cars heading to the same general destination.
  • Can ship door to door nationwide.
  • Will have shorter transit times vs. railcar.
  • Provides the option of open or enclosed transportation. Enclosed car haulers are the most expensive form of auto transport and are used most often for shipping luxury or classic cars.
  • Through a reliable transport provider like MetroGistics, you can easily get quotes, track and trace your shipment, and get automatic verification of a hauler’s insurance.

Which option works best for you? It depends on your priorities, concerns and time constraints. The good news is that MetroGistics’ professional dispatchers can provide no-obligation consultation to you seven days a week. Our dispatchers will gladly explain the vehicle shipment process and help you decide what makes the most sense for your personal auto transport needs.

We have a nationwide network that can provide safe and reliable shipment of your vehicle.

To contact a MetroGistics dispatcher, call 877-571-6235, live chat via our home page, or email info@metrogistics.com.

Catching up with the Metro Team

May 19th, 2014

The MetroGistics team is made up of very unique personalities. Some are very enthusiastic and outgoing, while others are behind-the-scenes powerhouses. Both types of personalities help make MetroGistics a well-oiled machine that works hard to provide excellent service and customer satisfaction.

Kelly Brda, controller, has been with the Metro team for just about a year. In charge of overseeing the accounting operations, she is known by her co-workers as hardworking and always willing to lend a hand. Kelly isn’t the type to dwell on the negative, and lives by the quote, “Be happy or don’t talk, just act; don’t say, just do; don’t promise, just prove.”

When the morning comes, all it takes to please Kelly is a hot cup of cinnamon hazelnut coffee. Not only does Kelly work hard, but she also plays hard. From golfing and cooking with her husband to running around with her “spoiled” cockapoo, Kelly makes sure her free time is filled with joy.

Bryan Dierkes, dispatch coordinator, leads the Metro team in the movement of vehicles contracted to MetroGistics. This month will mark Bryan’s first year at MetroGistics, and he loves nothing more than coming in every morning and working with a great team. His coworkers enjoy his presence as well, and consider him dedicated, funny and outgoing.

Bryan lives by the lyrics written by This or The Apocalypse that say, “Show them more heart than scars,” and would like nothing more than to show heart as a gladiator if he had the option to time travel. Since time traveling isn’t an option yet, Bryan finds pleasure in the present times by going to concerts, bowling and playing bass guitar.

Jeff Naz, Sonic account manager, spends his days at MetroGistics keeping our customers happy and traveling around the country to make sure things are running smoothly at each Sonic location. If any problems arise, Jeff is the problem solver who will identify the cause and create a solution — skills that are greatly appreciated in this industry.

Jeff, commonly described as outgoing and energetic, has been with our team since 2010 and likes to live every day like it’s his last. His favorite motto is “It’s another day alive and another day to conquer,” and he spends his free time conquering sports — he calls himself an addict —and spending time with his friends and family.

We are very lucky to have such a great crew. We appreciate each team member’s unique traits, and would not be the company we are without these hardworking individuals.

KellyBrdaHeadshotimage001photo (2)

Optimize Loads to Contain Transportation Costs and Improve Speed to Market

May 15th, 2014

MetroGistics deals with numerous clients that purchase or sell vehicles at auctions and request our help with shipping. Among these are many dealerships adding to their inventory and car rental companies looking to sell vehicles at auctions.

One factor that can impact the viability of auction purchases and/or sales is transportation costs. Maximizing loads and determining the best routes can help reduce your costs and improve your bottom line. When determining what types and how many vehicles to take to or purchase from auctions, consider load factors, weight and distance.

Load Factors

In general, most car haulers will average eight cars per load.

  • Passenger cars average eight to nine per load, depending on the size of the sedan
  • For midsize vehicles such as minivans, the average load factor is seven
  • For mixed loads of eight, the makeup can consist of:
    • four midsize vehicles and four cars, or
    • five SUVs and three cars

Most importantly, if you call for a quote on a full truckload and then exceed the number of vehicles that can fit on that truck, the single car or cars left over will have a much higher cost of transportation on a per-unit basis.

Weight Factor

Per Department of Transportation regulations, the total weight cannot exceed a combined total of 80,000 lbs., which equates to 32,000 to 34,000 lbs. of cargo weight.

Haulers may be able to accommodate more than one big truck (e.g., dually’s, stake trucks), but because of the total weight, the carrier will only be able to take one.

The best advice we can offer is to call, e-mail or live chat with one of our experienced dispatch team members available seven days week and let them know about the specific types of vehicles involved. The dispatcher will advise you if the load will or will not likely go over the weight limit.

Distance

As you might expect, the cost for a truckload moving freight to a major city or common truck lane will cost less than a shipment to a rural destination with smaller roads and more restrictions. A car hauler can legally operate around 500 to 600 miles a day per the DOT.

The considerations mentioned above are general industry guidelines, but our expert dispatch staff can provide additional help with model-specific questions.

Our knowledgeable dispatchers can provide one-on-one, no-obligation feedback or suggestions on what types of vehicles and how many will make a full load, and provide an ETA for you. Our dispatch team is ready to assist as trusted business advisors to help maximize load factors and minimize your transportation costs.

To contact a MetroGistics dispatcher about building your load for or from an auto auction, call 877-571-6235 or email info@metrogistics.com.

MetroGistics Adds Adam Laura as Director of Strategic Accounts

April 24th, 2014

We are excited to announce the hiring of Adam Laura as director of strategic accounts. In this role, Adam will be responsible for maintaining relationships with key customer accounts as well as developing and growing MetroGistics’ customer portfolio.

Adam most recently worked at ShipCarsNow, a subsidiary of Union Pacific, where he served as manager, business development. His professional experience also includes positions with Insight Network Logistics (another subsidiary of Union Pacific) as well as TNT Logistics. He has held leadership positions in network analysis, operations, procurement, account management and business development.

Originally from Detroit, Adam majored in both logistics management and marketing at Central Michigan University.

“Having Adam on board to help develop and grow our strategic account portfolio will be a great addition to our sales team,” said Scott Naz, managing partner, business development. “His expertise and experience within the marketplace, combined with our industry-leading logistics and technology platforms, will be a perfect fit in helping MetroGistics reach new heights.”

Outside of work, Adam enjoys golf, basketball, running and most importantly, spending time with his wife Nicole, son Joshua, daughter Olivia and dog Murphy. He is also an avid sports fan with a strong rooting interest in the Michigan Wolverines and all Detroit pro sports teams. 

 

Shipping Your Personally Owned Vehicle (POV)

April 15th, 2014

Although many of our customers know MetroGistics as a transport provider for new car manufacturers, large and small dealer groups, and rental car accounts, we also coordinate shipping of personally owned vehicles (POVs).

Here’s just one comment from our testimonials page: “Thank you MetroGistics for making the delivery of my new Volvo an easy and efficient process. Their staff are very professional and gave me daily updates on the status of my delivery. I would use them again for any future vehicle deliveries!” – Scott, Sacramento

Following is a checklist to help owners secure reliable transport for their POV.

  • Ask the transport provider for proof of insurance.
  • Make sure they have operating authority and are transporting vehicles legally.
  • Ask if they offer enclosed vs. open transport. Enclosed transportation will cost more but may be worth it if you are shipping an antique or prized vehicle.

After you’ve booked transport, follow these steps to prep your vehicle for shipment:

  • Ask any and all questions regarding the vehicle-shipping process.
  • Don’t pack your car full of household goods or valuables. In many cases, drivers will refuse to move a car until such items are removed, as it is against Federal DOT rules and regulations.
  • Make sure your vehicle is operable; otherwise the driver will have difficulty loading and unloading your vehicle.
  • Leave a little gas in the tank so the vehicle can be driven on and off the hauler.
  • Select the appropriate spot for pickup. Car haulers and large trucks cannot easily maneuver in many narrow or curved streets, or around low-hanging trees and bridges. Consider meeting the transporter at a nearby parking lot or large open space.
  • Take pictures of the vehicle and note the condition prior to it being transported.
  • Verify that someone will be at the origin and destination locations at the pre-arranged time.

At the pickup location, make sure you do the following:

  • You or someone you give consent to should complete a vehicle inspection with the driver, acknowledging any damage before transport.
  • Make sure you have the name and mobile telephone number of the driver so you can contact them if there are any changes in pickup location or time.

During transport, keep in mind:

  • The transport provider should communicate with you throughout the shipment process, notifying you when the POV has been picked up, status en route, and estimated delivery dates.
  • Have reasonable transit expectations. Drivers have legal limits on how many hours they can drive in a day and often have other pickups and deliveries to make.

At the delivery location, make sure the following occurs:

  • You or your designated contact should thoroughly inspect the vehicle prior to and after unloading, so there are no overlooked damages. If there are damages, the contact must note the damages on the Bill of Lading and contact your shipping representative immediately.  Failure to do so can result in denial of any damage claims.
  • The designated recipient signs the Bill of Lading acknowledging receipt, and exchanges keys.

If you have any questions about shipping POVs, feel free to call us at 877-571-6235 or conduct a live chat session from our home page.

Committed to Customer Satisfaction

March 14th, 2014

Many companies claim that customer satisfaction is their number one priority, but at MetroGistics we actively work to achieve customer satisfaction. We believe that customer satisfaction is the result of a great customer experience, and we will continue to devote the necessary time and resources to improve that experience.

How do we do that? Below are just three examples.

Customer Surveys
MetroGistics invites our customers to participate in surveys measuring our reliability, competency, professionalism and credibility. Keeping our customers engaged beyond the delivery date of their shipment is incredibly important to continuous improvement and service development. We want to hear it all – the good, the bad, and where we can improve. We want to know what we can do to keep setting the standard for an easy and hassle-free vehicle-shipping experience. We pledge to read every survey response and follow up with our customers on their recommendations for improvement.

Employee Professional Development
Our employees participate in continuing education courses highlighting customer service skills, technical skills and management/leadership skills. We want our employees to learn about new and better ways to serve customers before, during and after the shipment experience. Our Dispatch Team is comprised of some of the most talented people in the industry and are highly motivated to provide the best customer experience possible with every shipment.

Customer Visits
Our team members regularly meet with customers to ensure that our high service standards are being met. It also allows us to monitor industry and technology trends to ensure that our strategies remain in line with our customers’ needs. These visits allow us to remain a leader in developing new technologies, not just for our customers but the vehicle-shipping industry as a whole.

If you’d like to share feedback about your customer experience with MetroGistics, please email Martha Garcia-Perry, director of account management, at m.garcia-perry@metrogistics.com. We welcome your input and look forward to hearing from you.

Our Team of Shining Stars

March 7th, 2014

At MetroGistics, we believe that one of the keys to success is a dedicated and passionate staff. In order to join the Metro team, one must not only show a commitment to service, but also a friendly and positive personality. This month, we’re proud to spotlight three more members of our hardworking team.

Andy Strasser has been with us for two years as an account manager and dispatcher for our Sonic Southeast region. When he’s not at the office, Andy finds joy in simple things like a round of golf, listening to music and watching movies or sports.  To him, coming in to work each day is more than a responsibility, it’s something he truly looks forward to. Not only does Andy enjoy the company of his fellow team members, he also finds fulfillment in the exciting challenges that each new day brings.

Andy strives to pay meticulous attention to detail and commit 110 percent to his duties. “I really can’t relax at the end of the day unless I know I’ve done my job to the fullest,” he says.

Andy says that the secret to exceptional team cohesion is “having individuals with a strong work ethic who stick together and step up when needed.” If nothing else, a successful team “enjoys what they do.”

Another one of our great team members, Martha Garcia-Perry, has been with us for nearly one year and serves as our director of account management.

Martha is known for her loyalty, her incredible knack for understanding client needs, and her impressive ability to deliver high-quality service. “Two essential ingredients to success within a team are engagement and effort,” says Martha, “a team whose members are actively engaged in mind and spirit can deliver limitless effort to achieve the desired results.”

Martha’s drive to succeed and team-first attitude is apparent both in and out of the office. When she isn’t at work, Martha enjoys spending time outdoors with her family as well as running in races. Over the next ten years, Martha hopes to run in the Detroit International Marathon and help MetroGistics become one of the top companies in the industry by raising the standard in service excellence and delivering robust technologies to customers.

Last but certainly not least is Sharon Mitchell, who has been with MetroGistics as a vendor compliance specialist for nearly four years. Sharon’s friendly smile and dedication to her work are just a few of the many outstanding qualities that make her a special part of the Metro team.

During her time off, Sharon enjoys riding her horses as well as giving riding lessons. Her talent for patience, careful guidance and elegant performance are not only apparent in her hobbies, but also in the excellent work she contributes to MetroGistics.

Sharon combines a genuine belief in the power of team collaboration, hard work and just a dash of humor when approaching each day’s tasks. She jokes that “the smell of coffee” is what gets her out of bed in the morning. It’s that same quick wit and sincerity that allows Sharon to be a natural leader within the Metro family and a truly valuable addition to the group.

With the help of these great team members, we are confident that no matter what the future holds, it will be bright for MetroGistics!

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Maximizing Value through Total Collaboration and Visibility

February 14th, 2014

In our last blog post, we mentioned that one of the industry trends that MetroGistics is driving in 2014 is maximizing value for clients.

We understand that a business relationship requires a certain amount of trust. That’s why we hire the best people and provide them with the tools and training to become trusted advisors. They work with clients to ask the right questions and build a collaborative relationship that will result in getting the best value possible.

Total Collaboration
As part of our efforts to promote total collaboration, we encourage our clients to share specific information and ask us any manner of questions, such as:

“I’m interested in this type of vehicle. How many can I fit in a load?”

“I’m interested in buying these nine vehicles. Can we build a load? What should I take? What should I ship as singles?”

“I have these 20 cars that need to go to auction. Can you help me maximize my loads?”

“I want to buy cross-country. Approximately how long will it take to get my vehicles?”

By the way, MetroGistics can handle long distances (our average move is 675 miles) but not all carriers can.

Total Visibility
Since we ship vehicles all over the country, we have network visibility of how traffic is moving due to weather or seasonality issues. We can then use this information to coordinate shipments and better manage customer expectations regarding delivery times. While nothing can prevent weather incidents or major road construction, total visibility lets us plan for them as much as possible.

MetroGistics employs the latest technology (both Web-based and mobile) to provide status updates on shipments. This additional component of visibility allows for better resource and sales planning for our clients, and is yet another way we add value.

Our representatives are available seven days a week (7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central Standard Time) to answer your questions, provide quotes, and schedule transport. Feel free to call us at 877-571-6235 or conduct a live chat session from our home page.

Let us show you how we can maximize value for you!

MetroGistics Driving Positive Transport Trends in 2014

January 16th, 2014

When AutoRemarketing magazine interviewed MetroGistics co-owner Bill Billiter about top transport trends for 2014, it got us thinking about the many ways we as a company can help accelerate positive change in the industry through service and technology.

Here, then, is our perspective on some transport industry trends for 2014.

Transparency is key

Clients want real-time updates on status events throughout the shipment process. Drivers want to see the freight we have available. MetroGistics’ platform offers transparency for all our users. We have solid technology that alerts carriers to freight within a certain mileage radius of their capacity and pushes notices of available loads to their mobile devices. We are also close to launching an electronic proof of delivery (EPOD) solution that will allow drivers to fill out condition reports, collect signatures and process delivery documents electronically, eliminating the need for inefficient paperwork.

More ways to track

We have numerous solutions that our customers use every day to track shipments. Clients can check status by searching on our website, through nightly emailed in-transit reports with a digest of all their units including ETAs, and by using our mobile apps. MetroGistics will continue developing cutting-edge technology to provide tracking options to suit our clients’ preferences.

Verifying insurance

Unfortunately, there are many carriers today who don’t have insurance but falsify documents, or are not authorized to haul vehicles. Until there is a national enforcement program in place, it’s still “buyer beware.” Fortunately for our clients, our proprietary Safer Ship product monitors our carrier base 24/7 via a connection to the DOT/FMCSA to ensure that all of our carriers have current and proper levels of insurance and are authorized by the DOT to haul vehicles. Our software checks and monitors compliance nightly.

Maximizing value

Transport clients are looking for any way possible to save money without compromising safety and reliability. Aggregating shipments will improve efficiencies not only for every client, but also drivers and carriers. This also improves asset utilization, and reduces costs and transit time. MetroGistics has the flexibility to work with both single moves and big loads, and can pass along savings and benefits to our clients. Our average load factor is 4.25 units per load, and our average move is 675 miles (most single-source providers average 350 miles or less per move). Longer average-mile moves can help clients source vehicles from a wider radius, resulting in more selection and better pricing on vehicles.

We look forward to a great year for our clients and partners in 2014. Happy New Year!