Since May of this year, and after quietly purchasing and leasing trailers and testing its program at a select group of shippers of receivers among its customer base, the Convoy digital brokerage has been adding to the power-only load options available to carriers in its network via the Convoy app. And in contrast to the Uber Freight “Powerloop” program recently announced, there are no trailer-rental fees assessed to carriers during freight movements utilizing a Convoy owned or leased trailer.
Integration of such loads into the greater Convoy universe of freight available in the app is happening now, and requires no special sign-up to participate as a power-only carrier, says Chief Product Officer Ziad Ismail. When Convoy was piloting the program, there was “a separate operating agreement,” but “since May, it’s just built into the app. For any driver who wants to use the Convoy trailers, with the general terms of service they get access to our trailer pool. It’s part of the standard agreement at this point.”
Ismail and company came to the notion of building a Convoy trailer pool early on in the company’s short history (Convoy’s app launched in 2015). “When we started the company,” he says, “we heard from shippers they wanted us to help them out with their drop programs,” particularly the difficulties associated with working with small carriers without the large trailer pools of the larger fleets. Ultimately, preloads and drop-hook opportunities have the double benefit of boosting utilization for and offering new business opportunities to small carriers and addressing one of the longest-running big concerns of drivers and owner-operators going: “A lot of people talk about empty miles, but waiting time,” sitting in detention, “is most annoying for drivers,” Ismail acknowledges.
The Convoy app’s designers, too, have gone to lengths to optimize routes for owner-ops thinking about not just the current load, but the next one and the one after that. For power-only loads, combinations of preloads, drops and live load/unload are all part of the program, and fairly simply presented to app users before transactions are finalized.
“With our system, we can compare a drop shipment with a live shipment,” Ismail says. “We do both – there’s opportunity for drop-drop and drop-live combinations across multiple shippers. … We try to help manage all that for the driver and keep it simple. We find the routes that will work and they just book them via the app [so that] all they have to think about it how long it is going to take me and how much they can earn.”
The power-only side is still just a small fraction of the universe of freight available through the Convoy app, but it’s growing, he adds. “We’re finding that as soon as we onboard [customers] and bring on new loads in the [power-only] program, they’re quickly taken. … We’ve been adding new shippers to the program at the rate of a couple every month since we launched” it in May.