What company CEO Barry Conlon describes as a freight “booking platform for high-end shippers” and small-business truckers, the Overhaul company spent its time at this past week’s Mid-America Trucking Show in outreach-to-owner-operator mode. Speaking prior to the event, Conlon noted its MATS booth would be the center of its “driver drive,” so to speak, to create awareness about its mission to “increase the level of professionalism that customers are experiencing today,” both on the owner-operator and shipper side of the equation.
Also: To deliver on that ever-sought-after panacea that is both better service and better pricing — for both sides.
A few things separate Overhaul from many of the companies often spoken of in the context of what’s been called the “Uberization of trucking,” a term many despise for its oversimplication of what is the complex environment of any freight transaction and movement. Conlon is among them. “I don’t think it really fits,” he says. The Uber ride-share service, focused around point-to-point movement in most cases of a single passenger, is “tackling a horizontal market – while trucking is vertical. It requires deep knowledge within the space. Technology has a part to the play, but it’s not the end-all solution to what the customers are looking for.”
Overhaul differentiates itself in that it’s not a brokerage, for one. Nor does it plan on engaging brokers or broker-focused load-posting services to fill out any freight pool in its system.
Conlon comes to Overhaul after long experience dealing with high-end shippers who took advantage of the security products of his former company, FreightWatch. He encourages prospective independents, small fleets and others to think about the company in that context. Shippers with high-value loads, by and large, continue to be of the mind that they will “never shop online” for a partner to move freight, he says. “The lack of certainty in a virtual world is the reason.”
But when Overhaul launches in July, he says, the company will be debuting a fully direct-shipper booking engine to connect with operators who will gradually build trust within the platform, and among prospective customers using it, by move-after-move operating safely and doing the tried-and-true things that operators do to reduce the likelihood of “interaction with the criminal element,” Conlon says. “There are indicators that can trigger compliance or noncompliance with these milestones.” The application will “prompt the driver on what needs to be done.”
Those prompts, when followed during a move, enable owner-operators utilizing it to gain trust within the system, achieving levels of verification within the app that are visible to prospective shippers using it. “We’re asking an owner-operator to do certain things,” he said, declining to specify just what, given the tightly competitive area in which the company’s operating. “Milestones we’re establishing in the technology” will enable Overhaul “to pay these guys quickly in transit as a motivator for compliance” without taking cash-advance/factoring fees whatsoever. And most importantly, perhaps, “it’s projected that it will generate the trust we’re looking for in the marketplace” overall.
The service is aimed squarely at “attracting the attention of a new class of [shipper] that will trust the online model,” he says. “If you can give them some kind of reassurance you’ve got a technology that can guarantee you’ll get a secure, trusted move,” negative attitudes to the online on-demand model will change. “The folks we’ve lined up as early adopters,” he adds, are “classic cases of folks who would never have considered even doing a brokered load, much less [one booked] via an online environment.”
As operators continue to utilize the system, security/safety rankings from bronze to gold will then give an edge over the competition and/or boost highly-ranked operators’ rate of pay within the system.
The company is currently signing up independents to participate once it goes live in July. Operators can expects a typical on-boarding process — “basically, the same checks that are done today with a top-tier carrier,” Conlon says. “As he operates through our system he earns merits that are geared to getting bonus payments for hitting the milestones. When he gets to gold, we’re showing the professional excellence of this driver. … I’ll be putting him in front of customers he’d never have access to otherwise,” for better income.
What’s the catch? A common question from the owner-operators the company has convened in its development of the service, Conlon says. “I’m telling them there is no catch.”
Beta testing gets under way next month in earnest, he says, and “we’re going out to market in July.”