Drive On: Technology Keeps Atlas® Agents Ahead of the Curve
We’re dedicated to staying at the forefront of development.
“Transportation is a high volume and low margin business,” comments Jack Griffin
, Chairman & CEO, Atlas® World Group. “The second you come to terms with that, you realize the only way you’re going to be successful and serve customers with quality is to be the most efficient you can be. Technology is first and foremost in accomplishing that.”
The Atlas Strategic Plan, Vision 2025, includes six areas of concentration. While one of the areas is specifically dedicated to technology, we know technology is integral to all facets of the business. “All roads lead through IT and our technology,” says Jack. “Our technology holds a huge interdependency with each of our strategic areas of concentration.”
Raised Expectations for Customer Experience
As a van line, the Atlas® role is to understand the trends in the industry, listen to what customers and agents are saying, and develop solutions that meet their needs. “The ‘Amazon’ effect has raised expectations for performance across the board, even in relocation,” states Jack. That’s why Atlas has built custom technologies and applications that support customers and Atlas Agents at every step—from first customer contact through final payment. “We use technology as a key differentiator in terms of improving our customer experience,“ says Jack. “We believe we have leading-edge technology,” Jack continues, “But the moment we rest on our laurels and quit investing, we will fall behind. That’s why we’re very hard on ourselves internally, always wanting to make it better.”
“One of the things I admire most about Atlas is they’re very tech-driven,” says Jessica Greenhalgh
, Inside Sales Department Manager and Private Client Customer Experience Manager at Ace Relocation Systems (0062). “Atlas is moving and advancing forward with technology as much as possible to stay ahead of other van lines.”
Helping Agents Scale and Grow With Best-in-Class Technology
“For our agents, we’re a network manager. Our role is to make it as easy as possible for the agents to do business with us,” says Jack. “I call it ‘reducing the friction cost’ between the van line and the agents.” The less friction there is, the less cost is involved and the better the final product is, delivering the high-quality service that Atlas® customers demand. Yet, building best-in-class technology requires an investment that is beyond the capability of some individual agents. When the van line builds and spreads the technology to all agents, every agent can use the services to grow business in places where customer demands for efficiency and pricing outpace what some agents can do alone. Agents of all sizes can benefit from Atlas systems to scale and grow their business.
This year, we’re excited to share the latest in Atlas technology, and more importantly, the difference it’s making for our Atlas Agents, their team, and their customers.
Atlas® Systems Help Agents Manage Data to Optimize the Sales Process
Today, data is one of the most powerful decision-making tools a business can have at its disposal. Larry Lammers, President & CEO of Ace Relocation Systems (0062), puts it best: “If you’re not actively managing your data, then you're not actively managing your sales process.”
Our goal is to give Atlas® Agents access to a wealth of customer data and reports so they can manage leads, coach their sales team and ultimately, improve their customer acquisition.
AtlasNet ® Customer Manager (ACM)
Using ACM for Comprehensive Sales Management
Jessica, who manages the Inside Sales Department at Ace Relocation Systems, describes their use of ACM: “All of our leads, customer follow-ups, video surveys, estimates, bookings—everything starts and ends with ACM.”
It’s a tool that works hard for both sales team members and managers. ACM not only houses leads and enables seamless follow-ups, the system also shows managers trends in sales team performance.
“It helps us track our wins, our losses, and our costs,” adds Jessica. “I can see which team members perform better at selling certain types of moves. I can see their closing ratios. It helps me to coach them, while also assigning workloads in a way that best benefits the business.”
Using ACM to keep all customer information in one centralized location also helps deliver a better customer experience. ACM ensures leads are captured, tracked and managed properly, while also expediting the process for repeat customers whose information is already in the system. As customer information flows through the system, it seamlessly integrates with other Atlas® applications, keeping everyone on the same page and customers top of mind.
Using Reporting to Manage Team Performance and Improve Customer Acquisition
ACM is the go-to source for real-time information. Through the reporting tool, Atlas® Agents can access in depth sales, hauling, safety, claims and performance reports. Using this tool, they can pull any data they need, whenever they need it. It’s a feature that can be used across departments to understand the impact of their efforts.
From the marketing side, Craig Morreale, Director of Marketing at Ace Relocation Systems (0062), explains: “The ‘Hear About’ Report is the one place we will be able to go to look at all lead sources and calculate cost per appointment, cost per booked move, and the ROI of our marketing investments.”
From a sales perspective, Jessica adds, “We use the tools in Atlas to see where we’re making our money, so we can make educated sales decisions. Atlas provides all of that information so we can see the value of what we’re earning and what we’re not earning as well to improve the sales process.”
For operational leaders, ACM reports provide a holistic view of business performance, which can help inform pivotal business decisions.
“Reports help you determine what’s working and what’s not, It gives you a high-level view of business performance, showing trends and patterns so you can identify opportunities to optimize the business.”
Sr. Vice President at Ace Relocation Systems (0062)
Agents Use Atlas® Technology to Enhance the Customer Experience Throughout a Move
Finding new and better ways to serve our customers will always be a top priority for Atlas.® We also want to make it as easy as possible for our Atlas Agents to provide top-notch customer service at every stage of a move. That’s why we’re continually investing in technology that streamlines the process for both agents and customers.
Atlas® Video Survey
Making It Easier and More Convenient to Provide Accurate Estimates
For customers, it can be difficult to find time to schedule an appointment for an in-home estimate. They may even feel wary about inviting a stranger into their home. Atlas® Video Survey provides safety, security, and peace of mind. Secure technology protects proprietary information recorded during a video survey. Atlas Video Survey is changing all of that.
“Where we’re located, we service a large radius and many rural areas,” says Chelsey Keim
, Vibe Manager at InterWest Moving and Storage (0979). “We pride ourselves on being a premier provider in the "hard-to-service" areas in our region and Video Survey makes it easier than ever to fulfill that promise. Being able to reach customers who are far away without traveling to their homes, while still providing a one-on-one experience, is a gamechanger.”
Agents like InterWest are increasingly using Video Survey to provide estimates to customers. By conducting surveys through the free mobile app, customers are able to show agents everything they need to move, while agents are able to record the walkthrough with the customer's consent, which can increase the accuracy of estimates.
Two-Way Texting and PVO Profile
Keeping Customers Informed at Pivotal Moments During a Move
Communicating delivery windows, arrival updates and driver information is crucial—and phone calls and emails can get lost in the shuffle. Through twoway texting, AtlasNet® provides a direct way to communicate with customers that’s less obtrusive. They get the information they need delivered directly to their phone and can type a quick response to let agents know they’ve received their message.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of customers opt in to texting,” says Kendra Keim
, President at InterWest Moving and Storage (0979). “For customers who are really busy, who may not be able to respond quickly to emails and phone calls, it provides a simple way for them to receive vital updates about the move process.”
Opting in to texting through AtlasNet also ensures communication remains secure, allowing customers to feel confident that their information will never be misused.
Another way we’re increasing customer confidence is through the Atlas® Customer Portal and the creation of PVO Profiles. PVO Profiles provide customers vital information, like names and photos of the Professional Van Operators who will be responsible for their move.
“PVO Profiles give customers peace of mind,” says Lance Grooms
, Corporate Vice President of Atlantic Relocation Systems (1037). “They can validate who will be coming to their home and when, which helps build trust and makes our Van Operators look more professional.”
Putting these profiles together takes time, but Atlas Agents like Atlantic Relocation believe it’s worth it.
“It takes a little time to set up, but why wouldn’t you want to invest the time to make your customers feel more comfortable?” says Jon Schroeder
, President of Atlantic Relocation Systems (1037).
What advice do Lance and Jon from Atlantic Relocation have for other agents who want to get started with PVO Profiles? “Choose a dedicated team member to help build the profiles. That helped us speed up the process. Also, you don’t have to do it all at once. Take it one profile at a time and the process won’t feel as time-consuming.”
Protecting Customer Financial Data with Portal ePay
Atlas® customers can also use Atlas® Customer Portal to make a payment for their move—without worrying about the security of their personal financial information. With Portal ePay, Atlas Agents no longer need to collect credit card information directly from customers and take responsibility for storing that data.
“In today’s environment, privacy and security are top of mind for customers. Using Portal ePay gives us a safe and secure way to accept payments, without taking down credit cards over the phone or saving customer information in our systems. It helps protect the customer and us from unnecessary risk.”
, President at Atlantic Relocation Systems (1037)
Atlas® Agents Increase Their Operational Efficiency Using Atlas Systems
Portal ePay was designed by Atlas® to uphold the strictest security standards, while remaining easy for customers to use. It’s a system designed to give everyone peace of mind.
Managing a move requires accurate information at every step of the process. Different team members—from operations to dispatch to Professional Van Operators (PVOs) and even different Atlas Agents—need to work together and be on the same page when it comes to managing shipments.
Each department has unique needs when it comes to getting the job done, which is why Atlas created applications to help them manage their workload. Combining all of these tools from AtlasNet® keeps all shipment information in a single system—so accurate information is easily accessible for anyone throughout the move.
AtlasNet ® Inventory
Increase Transparency by Tracking and Managing Inventory Digitally
Protecting our customers’ belongings is one of the most important things we do. Accurate inventory records are key to delivering on this promise. For many Professional Van Operators, this process is traditionally done manually, using a pen and paper.
Getting PVOs to switch to digital inventory may have its challenges, but most Atlas® Agents who use AtlasNet® Inventory believe it’s more than worth the investment.
“AtlasNet Inventory has the power to streamline operations and make you more efficient as an agent,” says Todd Winter
, President & COO of Golden Van Lines (0991). “It improves the transfer of information, the billing and claims process by embedding photos into the inventory process to show the condition of goods, while also providing evidence of the home’s condition at origin and destination. Down to something as simple as the legibility of handwriting, this eliminates many issues of manual inventory. We must continue to advance this technology and simplify its functionality. Continued enhancements will make AtlasNet Inventory continue as a viable system.”
Not only does AtlasNet Inventory benefit Atlas Agents who use the system, but it’s also beneficial for customers as well.
“The whole process of using a tablet and electronically inventorying is impressive to the customer,” comments Kevin Reddy
, Vice President of Sales at
Golden Van Lines (0991). “It puts us on a level playing field with every other van line that’s out there using technology.”
What about other customer benefits? “Having the information streamlined to the customer right away. They don’t have to wait for a carbon copy when the PVO delivers it a week later,” adds Cody Pierce
, Director of Operations at Golden Van Lines (0991). “As soon as our PVO walks out the door, he can fire up his truck and email all those documents over to the shipper ASAP. It also makes it easier to locate items in a shipment at any point in the move.”
Providing this type of transparency allows our customers to know their belongings are a priority, instilling confidence in the professionalism and expertise of Atlas Agents and PVOs.
How do we get more PVOs on board? “We’d love to see easier and enhanced training,” comments Todd. “Our staff and PVOs don’t have a lot of time, so the easier we can make learning something new, the better.”
Manage Customer Relationships More Effectively with Custom Tasking Templates
Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) play a vital role in building customer trust by ensuring customers have the information they need, when they need it, during the entire move process.
One of the ways Atlas® Technology supports CSRs is through the Tasking function in AtlasNet.® Tasking allows CSRs and operations team members to know exactly what they need to accomplish each day—from which customers should be contacted, to what shipments need their attention.
“Tasking is our lifeblood,” says Lynda Drumsta
, National Account Relocation Specialist at Imlach Group (1130). “We religiously work our task lists and our customer service team works like clockwork.”
Why did they switch? “Not only is Tasking free through Atlas, but it also saves us time and money avoiding duplicate entry or trying to locate information in multiple systems. We’re no longer paying people to do the same task twice,” says Lorraine Holland
, CFO of Imlach Group (1130).
Imlach worked with Atlas IT to create custom tasking templates to make it easier for CSRs and operations team members to transition to the Atlas system.
“When we started using Tasking, we worked with Atlas to create custom templates,” says Dave Bjerk
, General Manager at Imlach Group (1130), “but we’re also constantly adding and retooling our tasking based on account needs. The flexibility is great because we can work the way we want and how works best for us.”
The switch wasn’t something everyone was on board with initially. Lynda, who was once one of the biggest critics of Atlas technology is now one of its biggest advocates.
“I used to be you,” says Lynda, about agents who may be resistant to changing systems. “I used to think my personal system was better than anything else could be. But since we’ve moved to the Atlas system, my life is so much easier because everything is in one place. I can also deliver better service because I can find any information a customer needs on the fly. I’m always telling other agents to use the Atlas system.”
Maximizing Productivity in Dispatch Management with Scheduler
What Tasking is to CSR, Scheduler is to Dispatch. Scheduler helps manage local events and labor at the branch level. One of the biggest benefits of Scheduler and its integration within AtlasNet® is the ability for information to be accessed remotely.
“Our dispatcher, Paul, really appreciates the accessibility Scheduler provides him,” comments Lynda at Imlach Group. “It gives him the ability to access vital information no matter where he is. If a PVO calls and he’s away from his office, he’s able to answer their questions right then and there.”
Scheduler enables automation that makes dispatch more efficient, while also keeping detailed records that payroll and CSR can easily access, streamlining operations across departments.
“Using Scheduler, there’s less chance for manual errors,” says Dave at Imlach Group. “Once all of the equipment and employees are in, it’s drop and click. You can’t double schedule a PVO. You can check payroll against hours. We can look into historical shipments without issue.
Operate at Full Capacity with Planning Manager
Planning Manager is one of the newest Atlas® Technologies. While it’s still being tested and optimized, it’s potential is powerful. In combination with Smart Resources, it allows you to see available shipments and PVOs with open space so you can assign PVOs to that shipment.
, Interstate Dispatch at Golden Van Lines (0991) says, “It’s a very efficient way for us to know what we have going on. It matches up tonnage with open PVOs, so we’re able to get more tonnage covered quicker and increase hauling capacity. Even though we’ve lost a few PVOs in the past year, we’ve still increased our hauling capacity.”
However, we’ll only realize the full potential of Planning Manager once more agents adopt the technology.
“The more people adopt Planning Manager and Smart Resources, the quicker shipments can be hauled,” says Todd. “It’s good for everyone—it improves capacity and keeps our PVOs from missing out on shipments or revenue, customers are able to move faster, and we as agents can operate at full capacity.”
Pre-Rate & fastrac
Estimating and Accelerating Payments with Pre-Rate and fastrac
Accurate estimating and timely payments are top concerns for Atlas® Agents, which is why Atlas has developed two tools that make it easier for accounting departments to do their job—Pre-Rate and fastrac.
“Pre-Rate is a powerful tool that allows our revenue clerks to calculate the charges on a move without the need for Atlas to view it first,” says Eric Looman
, Accountant at Powell Relocation (1657). “It gives us the ability to review, manage, and prepare the move for a faster billing process, as well as estimate payments to our PVOs before Atlas disburses the funds.”
Having pricing IDs, valuation, and all of the different financial information at their fingertips improves accuracy and speed. And since Powell Relocation pays their PVOs twice a week, it’s pivotal for them to have accurate estimates.
With these regular payments, it’s also imperative for Powell Relocation to get paid in a timely fashion. Fastrac allows agents to have more control over the speed at which payments are processed.
“With fastrac we’re able to finalize the order-based services, confirm the charges, and inform Atlas that the move is ready for billing,” adds Eric. “Once fastrac is complete, Atlas gives the move a perfunctory review and releases it, speeding up the billing cycle and improving our cash flow.”
All of this information flows in real time, allowing accounting and auditing departments to process billing information faster than ever before.
When Agents Unify Around Our Technology, the Quicker We Reach Our Full Potential
Technology is making a true, positive impact on Atlas® Agent businesses.
Chelsey sums up the impact it’s had on their business: “Atlas technologies have helped our agency stay ahead of the curve by increasing the connectivity we have with our customers and improving the efficiency of our entire team.”
Ken has experienced similar efficiencies as their team grows. “Atlas technology is a big part of what we do because we register all shipments in the Atlas system. We try to tap into every way they allow us to use that data. We’ve gone from two coordinators to 12 in the past six years, many of whom work remotely, and the Atlas system is what keeps us on the same page and increases our productivity.”
We’ve heard many stories like these. And as we spoke to Atlas Agents about their experience using Atlas technology, one thing became clear—our systems are more effective when more agents use them.
“All of this technology is only as powerful as the number of people who embrace it,” says Todd. “The more agents that get on board, the more effective it will be.”
From booking agents to origin and destination agents, working together in one system increases transparency, accuracy, and efficiency, which all leads to a superior customer experience.
Atlas will continue to invest in technology to support our agents across sales, customer relations and operations. We hope our Atlas Agents help spearhead the effort to adopt these technologies and provide feedback to make them as effective as possible.
“At the end of the day, there’s strength in numbers here,” says Jack. “When we’re unified as a network, there’s no one who can touch us.”
Together, we’ll drive the business forward.