Logistics is a difficult industry. Trying to manage multiple variables across geographically diverse areas, all while meeting your customers' expectations is demanding work. But Ryan Phillips, co-owner of Circle 8 Logistics, and his team leverage technology to keep them on time and keep their customers happy. Here's how they do it.
Q: What devices do you use daily?
A: Ryan's team of nearly 125 employees rely on technology because of the data-driven nature of their business.
Ryan says, "The devices we use must be capable of handling the data demands, but, moreover, they must be fast and flexible." To meet this demand, Circle 8 Logistics team members use desktop and laptop computers, iPads and smartphones with connectivity to cloud-based applications from almost anywhere.
Q: What technology do you use to get ahead of your competition?
A: "We certainly use some of the more mainstream programs, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, etc., but the heart of our operation is a proprietary program called FreightHauler," Ryan explains.
The power of FreightHauler, Ryan states, is its flexibility and customization. "We have anywhere from three to five programmers on site daily just to implement changes to the program," he says. This gives Ryan's team an advantage as they can quickly see issues before they happen and identify market fluctuations quickly, fully utilizing the data available to them.
Q: Is technology a significant enabler for your business?
A: "Absolutely!" states Ryan. The importance of technology for Circle 8, however, goes beyond managing shipments and understanding data. Ryan and his company use technology to train, develop and evaluate staff.
"Each department has access to daily metric reports that allow them to see in real time how they are performing in a number of KPIs." Team members know exactly where they stand, what they need to improve and how they are doing throughout the year, and not just at review time.
Q: Has social media influenced your business at all, from internal employee policies to the way you promote your company?
A: Ryan explains that he and his partner, Mike Lewis, are a bit old school. "(We) made a bet that the first one of us to start a Facebook page would have to pay the other guy $50,000."
Circle 8 team members share a lot of what the company does on social media, including events and philanthropy. And social media plays a key role in recruitment.
Despite their feelings about some platforms, though, the co-founders participate in some social media. "Mike and I do have LinkedIn pages."
Q: Have you had to adapt your business because of security concerns brought about by the increased use of technology?
A: Staying vigilant is the strategy the Circle 8 co-owner describes as the best way to protect the company.
"Given the amount of data we have and the fact that we view our use of it as a competitive advantage, we spend a lot of time and money on backing up our systems and ensuring virtually zero downtime." They don't do it alone, though. "We feel very confident with our IT partners," Ryan says.