Background and company structure
Based in Northern Illinois, the parent company of Northwest Repossession has been involved in several different business lines in their 40 years of experience.
As General Manager for Northwest Repossession, Ryan Miller has been with the company since 2009.
“We’ve got one which is a repossession company that we run. We’ve got a transportation company that we run, and we’ve also got a general towing company” Miller said.
NWR alone serves 450 zip codes in 3 different states, and with so many expensive pieces of equipment, it’s no surprise that making sure their fleet is in top shape has sometimes been a challenge.
Ryan currently manages 24 pieces of equipment, including:
- Tow trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Spotter cars
The company spends a significant amount of money on spotter cars in order to verify vehicles their team is tasked with repossessing.
When it comes to these spotter cars, keeping this fleet in good condition is a priority since they play an important role in keeping the rest of the business running smoothly.
“If something goes wrong [with a vehicle] we want to know who to keep accountable for it.” Miller stated.
Compliance problems prior to Whip Around
Prior to Whip Around, Miller describes being stopped by enforcement officers as a pretty common occurrence for the tow trucks.
In one instance, he recalled a time when one of their vehicles got pulled over by a State Trooper, who pointed out that their DOT numbers didn’t match what was on file.
“We had to go out there with another tow truck and tow our own truck away.” Miller admitted.
At this point, Ryan and his team knew it was time to investigate what was going on with their current process. To understand what exactly was going on, the company hired a company specializing in DOT compliance to perform a mock audit on the fleet.
Making matters worse was the fact that NWR’s Company Snapshot provided by the FMCSA’s electronic records system, SAFER (Safety and Fitness Electronic Records) was not where it needed to be to remain compliant.
This Company Snapshot includes a safety rating, as well as a log of roadside out-of-service inspections, and crash information.
“At that time we were looking at our SAFER score, and it was way up there. It was not in good shape. We were getting ready to get shut down by the DOT.” –Ryan Miller, General Manager at Northwest Repossession
A ‘nightmare’ for mechanics: paper
Like so many other companies that have been in business for several decades, using paper logs and processes is commonplace. For NWR, this turned out to be a big problem when it came time for repairs.
Miller describes the situation as a ‘nightmare’ for mechanics. Since drivers were originally completing paper logs whenever faults were identified prior to using the Whip Around app, it made it extremely difficult to track down what was going on.
To visualize the severity of the situation, Miller recalls an exercise in which they plotted each vehicle number on a wall. This resulted in a giant column of paper logs below each vehicle of all the things that needed to be fixed.
“When we looked at the wall, we were like “there is no way we need to be running any of these trucks right now” he admitted.
Finding the solution to a DOT compliance nightmare
The quest to find some alternative options eventually led Ryan to Whip Around after a 3 week research process and watching a few customer testimonials and YouTube videos.
The ability for Whip Around to keep them DOT compliant when it came to cleaning up their inspections and maintenance process is eventually what sealed the deal.
5 benefits the NWR team is now experiencing
Since rolling out Whip Around, Northwest Repossession is experiencing countless benefits across the organization.
1. A better way to keep drivers accountable
Having access to pre-trip inspections in a digital format is also helping NWR when it comes to driver accountability.
In repossession, Miller mentioned that damage is something that’s simply bound to happen. For this reason, he wanted to be able to hold the right driver accountable whenever damage is reported.
By using Whip Around, damage is able to get corrected in a timely manner when it occurs, while protecting drivers that didn’t cause it.
By having access to all of their pre-trip inspections, NWR can not only keep an eye on what’s going on with the fleet day-to-day, but also any historical problems a vehicle may be experiencing.
2. No more compliance worries
Miller reiterated that he knows tow trucks often get pulled over a lot by enforcement officials, especially in the Illinois area.
“If the state sees a company vehicle, they are going to pull it over. They’re going to make sure everything’s good to go on it.” he admitted.
With Whip around, he’s now able to keep their fleet at 100%, which is a huge relief when it comes to staying compliant.
3. Less frequent roadside inspections
Ryan also has noticed this newly implemented solution is having a noticeable impact, stating:
“[After implementing Whip Around] We’re getting pulled over less. The few times that they have pulled us over, we’re always passing with flying colors. Trucks are up to par, drivers are up to par, everything is 100%, so they don’t even mess with us anymore.”
He also mentioned the rollout of Whip Around has been extremely beneficial for the company as well, and has translated to a much lower SAFER score.
4. Lower insurance rates
Since the entire fleet is able to remain compliant easier than ever, it’s also leading to some unexpected benefits in the form of lower insurance rates.
With fewer infringements on their drivers as well as fleet, it’s having a real impact on their bottom line as well.
“We get better insurance.” Miller said. “ That’s saving us tens of thousands of dollars every single year.”
5. Improved communication between drivers and mechanics
The culture has also changed – and for the better, especially when it comes to how drivers and their mechanic spend their time.
“Everyone likes it because it created a lot of accountability not only between the drivers, but then for our in-house mechanic as well. We had a previous mechanic, he didn’t like the technology, he didn’t want to be involved with it. He liked having his 4,000 notebooks. Now that we’ve got a way to keep the mechanic accountable, he’s on top of it.”
As an example, one of his drivers recently noticed his truck was a little low on coolant, and thanks to Whip Around was able to communicate this to the mechanic.
Prior to his next shift, the driver noticed not only had his coolant had been topped off, but the mechanic left a little note. According to Miller, it read: ‘Just checked your brakes and checked everything else out. Your truck’s in tip-top shape, have yourself a good night’.
“That’s a good start to your night”, Miller admitted.
Experience the Whip Around difference
Facing similar problems when it comes to dealing with paper forms or DOT compliance? Book a demo at your convenience and experience how implementing Whip Around can make a huge difference from day one.