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You might call it an idea whose time has come...or, as Frank Webers aptly terms it, "the solution for the small shipment."
Frank, President of Collins Brothers Moving & Storage (547) in Larchmont, New York, is referring to Atlas Accel, a new premium, expedited delivery option. In just a few short weeks of using Accel, he sees the potential for small shipments has suddenly grown much bigger.
"There have always been challenges with shipments under 5,000 pounds," says Frank. "With Accel, I can give customers a much shorter spread for delivery. Although the transportation cost is more, they find the savings in expenses for food and hotels — not to mention lost productivity — is huge."
"We've shown this to about ten clients, and every one of them has seen applications for their business," says Don Hill, President and COO of Alexander's Mobility Services (207). "They see the value of employees being able to select the dates, and they are extremely intrigued by the per diem cost savings."
But Atlas agents aren't the only ones singing praises. "Customers like Accel because it lets them design their own move," says Steve Hermann, Atlas Assistant Vice President, Logistics. "For instance, a customer who relocates frequently just completed a move with Accel and wrote to tell us this is exactly the service he has been looking for. He says he will never move any other way."
"Accel represents a new idea for the industry, a different way of thinking," says Atlas Sr. Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Greg Hoover, who led the Accel development team. "We started out in early 2005 by simply looking at how we might add value and improve service quality for customers with smaller shipments."
The idea for containerized transit evolved and, after securing agreements with prime service partners, Atlas tested Accel in the field. Following an introduction in 16 major metro areas in mid 2006, the planned expansion to 41 markets was achieved by the start of 2007.
Because Accel is new for Atlas, not to mention the industry, product education has been critical to its launch. During December and early January, Atlas trainers traveled the country to orient agents. Fifty-two agencies participated in live training events and many took part in web-based education programs. They became familiar with how to submit an online contract request, use the web-based pricing application to get an instant cost estimate, and how to actually place an order.
"Our goal was to roll the program out on January 1, 2007," says Greg. The effort came close, with the first shipments taking place in mid-January. "We're building momentum," says Greg. "In just a little over three weeks we've booked 40 shipments, with an average size of two vaults per shipment. One account is now registering three or four shipments a day."
As agents and customers are finding out, Accel saves time that equates to significant expense reductions. But it brings another cost advantage: fewer claims.
"The industry average for claims is about one in four shipments," says Greg. "As our customers know, Atlas Van Lines outperforms the industry, with a ratio of about one in seven. For Accel, the ratio is approximately one in thirteen. That's phenomenal."
The claims performance in large part reflects the unique design of the Accel container, a tough, lockable polymer SmartVault that includes GPS tracking for added security. "It's unbelievably strong," says Frank, "and it's easy to stack in the warehouse and move around."
"When you put it all together," says Greg, "Accel offers a value proposition with applications for practically anyone."
Don Hill agrees. "The value is so great, it's worth it to pay a little extra and have the truck there within a one-day window. This concept may even someday affect the way big shipments are handled."
"I believe Accel will continue to gain momentum," says Frank. "Especially when clients see the happier faces on their employees and the cost savings. It's a win-win for everyone."