Q&A with Trucker Tools’ CEO Prasad Gollapalli: Greater Visibility Compliance, Carrier Adoption, ELDs, and the Role Technology Plays in Growing Your Brokerage

In our recent FreightWaves webinar on how visibility is non-negotiable for brokers, several of the webinar’s attendees posed some thoughtful questions to Trucker Tools’ CEO Prasad Gollapalli about Trucker Tools’ visibility solution and the freight market. We loved the insightful questions from the audience, so we’re sharing those here with Prasad’s responses.

Read on to learn more about how Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity platform and our free, driver app can raise visibility compliance for your brokerage/3PL.

Q: How do we encourage drivers to use our own tracking app? Are there any incentives or promotions that you have seen work well in increasing carrier adoption?

“If you have your own freight tracking app, you have to be honest with yourself about the situation. Your app only helps the trucker provide visibility to you when working with you. When the trucker leaves your system to work with another broker, the trucker will have to use a different app. There’s a great deal of app fragmentation occurring right now and that’s really where carrier resistance to freight tracking technology originates.

In a recent Trucker Tools survey, owner-operators and small carriers overwhelmingly said they were unlikely to use a broker-specific freight tracking app. When a trucker leaves your load, there is little incentive for that trucker to keep your app on their phone. There’s no easy way to say this, but because your app only tracks loads for your company, there is little value in it for the carrier. Unless you address that value factor, it’s going to be very difficult for you to increase carrier adoption of your tracking app.

If you have a carrier who uses you exclusively as a broker, then, of course, the carrier is more likely to use your app. But most of your loads are likely moved by many different carriers, most of whom are owner-operators or small trucking companies. So you need a supplement. You have to have a two-pronged approach: use your proprietary tracking app with carriers who use you exclusively as a broker and use an all-in-one app like Trucker Tool’s driver app for the rest of your carries.

If you try to go around the driver somehow, you’ll still run into problems with visibility. The best approach with visibility is to make carriers part of the solution by asking them what they prefer and by catering to them.”

Q: Can you embed Trucker Tools’ driver app into a broker proprietary app or have our app available in Trucker Tools’ driver app. For example, we have an app that provides load availability. Can we avoid having carriers download our app and Trucker Tools’ app?

“The simple answer is yes — there is a synergy there. We look for ways to reduce the number of apps that truckers need to download. If you’ve already built an app for load matching, we can pull that load availability component into the Trucker Tools driver app. The best way to do it is with an integration between the two apps, where your carriers can see the same info in the Trucker Tools app that they can see in your app.”

Q: How much success have you had with small to medium-sized carriers who mostly run local routes where tools like the cheapest fuel and repair shops have less value for them?

“When you look at local drivers, their needs are a little different from long haul truckers, for whom parking, finding the cheapest fuel and weigh scales are important. With local truckers, the value of Trucker Tools’ driver app is there, it’s just a bit different.

Local truckers value our route optimizer and the information the app provides on traffic and weather. They also value the community that our driver app provides. One of our major focal points, when we created the Trucker Tools driver app, was to create a community for truckers. In fact, our entire roadmap is driven by truckers, many of whom have an emotional attachment to our app. And we definitely have short-haul drivers who use Trucker Tools’ driver app.”

Q: For your two case studies shown, how did the percentages of one-load wonders that you presented at the start of the presentation look after implementing Trucker Tools?

“I don’t have those numbers immediately available, but I can share with you that with Choptank Transport, they have 80 percent of their carriers on the Trucker Tools platform. Choptank has more visibility compliance with these carriers and the carriers are less likely to leave their system. It’s important to note that this compliance is also predicated on Choptank’s ability to provide high-quality loads to keep the carriers.  

In transportation, we have a misconception when it comes to technology. We think of technology like a magic dust that we can sprinkle on everything to fix it. One clear thing that Trucker Tools does is that we work with our customers and explain to them that yes, technology plays its role. But you, as a broker, you have to play your role and the carriers have to play their role. When carriers stay within your network as a broker, technology can help you facilitate that, but the relationship between you and the carrier has to be established based on the quality of the freight that you provide to the carrier.

Here’s a good example. Let’s say you have a carrier on the East Coast who mostly works on the East coast. As a broker, you have some loads on the East Coast, but most of your freight is on the West Coast. There’s an intrinsic mismatch there between the carrier and broker that technology can’t fix. What technology can do is help you understand what markets these carriers run into, what their needs are and how you can position your growth.

If you’re looking to expand freight and use this carrier on the East Coast, you can use Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity to quickly find freight to provide that complete lane density for this carrier. Because at the end of the day, you’re not after just one load. You want to be able to use technology to also keep the carriers in your network. And Smart Capacity can help you do that.”

Q: Don’t you believe that ELD tracking is a more effective way of tracking starting in the near future, considering ELDs will be required of all carriers later this year, taking the decision out of the drivers’ hands?

“I don’t completely agree with that thought. On the surface, everyone looks at ELDs and says we have an ELD device in every truck, why can’t we just get the data from truck and avoid the driver altogether? But avoiding the driver and going around the driver altogether doesn’t get rid of the problem.

If you look at the overall carrier segment, the large and medium-sized carriers are more inclined to share ELD data, as opposed to smaller carriers. But there are more carriers who fall into this small/medium-sized trucking company and owner-operator segment than the large ones. If you look at the number of carriers who share their ELD data, it’s fewer than one thousand carriers. In total, the industry has about 200,000 active carriers. You see how small that percentage is.

The main issue with ELDs for small carriers is that they have to jump through a bunch of hoops to give you permission to see their ELD data. These carriers also don’t think it’s clear who gets to see that data, which is driving a lot of that resistance to share ELD data. Another barrier to ELD data sharing is that it’s hard for carriers to pull the plug on ELD data sharing.

When we talk to carriers, nine of 10 say they prefer to use an app over their ELD for freight tracking. It makes sense if you think of yourself in your own life. If you look at a contract and it locks you in for many years to come, you’re less likely to sign that contract. Or if you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to cancel the contract, you’re less likely to sign it. Carriers feel the same way about ELD data sharing.”

To watch the full FreightWaves webinar, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIGZDrse8Gk&t=63s. If you’re ready to find out how Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity and driver app can increase freight visibility and operational efficiency for your company, email sales@truckertools.com or click on the request a demo button below.