Grow and Scale with Fleet Management Technology
This article was originally published in American Cranes & Transport magazine.
Fleet Cost & Care Operations Vice President Bill Hollowsky started his career in accounting the old-fashioned way, using “good ole green ledger paper.” When the company he worked for began implementing a new computer accounting system, that’s when he found his passion working with computers and technology.
A few years later he was recruited by KPMG Peat Marwick and began a management consulting career evaluating and implementing new technology systems for clients. He was then recruited by Oracle Corporation and continued implementing large-scale enterprise resource planning systems.
“After being a software user and implementer, I wanted to do product management, where I could influence the design and functionality of software,” he said.
When the opportunity arose, he transferred into product management for Oracle’s Financial Applications, which allowed him to work for several other software and services companies. He then started his own consulting company, and that’s when he met Fleet Cost and Care (FCC) President Jeff Curran.
“When I met Jeff, he shared his vision and asked me to evaluate and make suggestions on how to continue to grow and scale the company,” Hollowsky said. “At the conclusion of your typical consulting project, when you present your grand recommendations to grow and fix everything, Jeff said ‘Okay, now do it!’”
So Hollowsky went to work for FCC a little over two years ago, with the goal to implement the strategies he had recommended as a consultant. It’s apparently been a labor of love, because he quickly figured out who’s who in the industry and what the company needed to do to grow in a successful and strategic manner.
FCC’s flagship products are its NexGen desktop and Atom mobile fleet management products. Its services include comprehensive implementation and support services, software enhancements and maintenance, Hollowsky explained.
“We also provide business process evaluations and health checks to help our customers streamline operations and realize full value from our systems,” he said. “We provide data conversions, customizations and upgrades. Working jointly with our partners, we also provide software hosting services and integrations to accounting, payroll, CRM, GPS, ELD and other systems.”
As FCC celebrates its 25th anniversary, we caught up with Hollowsky to talk about the company, its latest innovations and the realm of fleet management.
What distinguishes Fleet Cost and Care in the markets it serves?
We are the only company that provides a comprehensive end-to-end fleet management system that is dedicated to the industry. In reviewing the 2018 American Cranes & Transport ACT 100 index of North America’s top crane-owning companies, 45 percent of the top 20 are using our products.
A key distinct offering we provide is our dedicated Customer Success Managers (CSM). This is a new program we instituted where we assign a CSM to every one of our customers. The role of the CSM is to engage regularly with each customer and to be their voice so we continually receive feedback to improve our products and services. We focus relentlessly on listening to our customers and improving our products and services.
You recently directed a reorganization of FCC. What was the goal of this restructuring and what is the result?
Our core mission at Fleet Cost & Care is to serve as a software industry leader and technology partner to our customers. We identified several critical goals supporting our mission that we are focused on. A couple of those goals are to grow and invest in our staff, improve implementation services and adoption, improve support processes and adopt software development lean/agile methods while continually making functional and technology improvements.
In a short period, we have accomplished much, but we still have lots more to do. I never want to stop improving everything we do.
We invested heavily in adding and growing our staff and services. From our collective implementation experience, we defined and documented a standardized approach to ensure all aspects of an implementation are covered whether a client has 20 cranes or 500 cranes, 10 employees or a thousand employees. Our process ensures that every implementation specialist delivers a consistent approach where every customer can realize value. We’ve worked hard to improve our support processes, responses and follow-up. We are preparing to launch a customer portal which will continue to improve our customer support.
We successfully adopted key software development lean/agile principles and practices. This allows us to focus on delivering key functionality in less time with higher quality. These practices keep us focused on high value enhancements, industry trends and regulations as well as technology updates.
What is new with the FCC software?
A lot. Last year alone we released 427 enhancements for our customers across our full product suite and this year we are on track to exceed last year’s number. We are significantly investing in improving the user experience across the mobile and desktop applications. A few new projects underway are improved reporting capabilities, dashboards and business intelligence, tracking and scheduling components as well as web-based products.
Fleet Cost & Care considers mobile applications a must, and its Atom mobile application drives process efficiencies, Hollowsky said.
What are the functionality features that were added?
In the last 24 months we were focused on key areas such as safety, job and equipment checklists and electronic signatures. We also made notable enhancements to improve dispatching, electronic ticketing, fleet maintenance, deficiency tracking and work orders. We also expanded our system integrations for GPS, ELD and ERP system to providers such as Tadano, Verizon and JJ Keller. Currently, we are focused on improved reporting, business intelligence, tool and component tracking and a new user experience.
What about the Atom mobile app?
Mobile applications are a must-have. Software providers that don’t embrace mobile will not survive much longer. Customers that do not embrace mobile technology are at a significant competitive disadvantage and will continue to lose business until they go out of business.
Our Atom mobile application is the critical component that drives enormous process efficiencies and time savings while focusing on safety. We continually focus on the right functionality for mobile users. Today, you can take a sales call, quote and dispatch a job, report real-time job status, track checklists, receive electronic signatures, report labor time and bill a customer in the same day or the next day. For many prospects we’ve spoken with, it can take six to eight or more weeks just to get invoices in the mail. Imagine the inefficiencies and non-value-added steps that exist.
What are the biggest challenges getting clients to purchase and implement your software system?
For some prospects, it can be tough convincing them to break away from the good old trusted way of doing business … using whiteboards, spreadsheets and paper. It’s the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” thought process.
We also see many companies spending millions of dollars on equipment, personnel and operations but have a difficult time understanding that a comparatively small investment in computers and software can in turn significantly reduce that spending, saving hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
Briefly, what are the benefits of a fully implemented fleet management software system?
Our software provides integrated end-to-end business processes from sales and quoting, dispatching, scheduling, operations, safety, compliance and certifications to invoicing, labor, preventative and ongoing maintenance as well as service and inventory. By connecting users to a real-time single source of information, some of the benefits are:
- Entering data once and that data flows through the system
- Real-time visibility to jobs and maintenance status
- Improved communication and collaboration across all departments
- Captured customer signatures with terms and conditions
- System and processes easily scale as a business grows, reducing the need to hire additional staff.
I was recently visiting with a customer and the president noted a few of the benefits they have realized in six months: a 10 percent savings on payroll, eliminated a full-time administrative position, and eliminated over 50 hours per month of back-office processing for payroll, invoicing and work orders. In six months since they implemented, they billed 100 percent of last year’s maintenance services – meaning they potentially missed billing for 50 percent of services over how many past years.
”One of the key lessons we learned over the years is that user adoption is a critical success factor. As a part of our implementation process, we work with clients to ensure key stakeholders are involved in critical decisions from the start.” – Bill Hollowsky, Vice President of Operations, Fleet Cost and Care
What are the challenges in software implementation? How do you work with your clients to get their employees to adopt new technologies?
A very tough challenge during an implementation is that many users must do their current day jobs while learning and implementing a new system and new processes. Many clients do not have the luxury to hire or assign full-time staff to system implementations. This added responsibility can add much stress during an implementation. We understand this as many of our staff have sat in the same seats. We help our clients manage this challenge with our project management and proven implementation processes.
Another challenge, with large, complex clients, is that we find a variety of stand-alone non-integrated software applications that require duplicate or triplicate data entry and much manual intervention. We work with each client to eliminate as many of those systems, or build integration into our products where we see value.
One of the key lessons we learned over the years is that user adoption is a critical success factor. As a part of our implementation process, we work with clients to ensure key stakeholders are involved in critical decisions from the start. We provide early and ongoing training leading up to the cutover. We go onsite and provide hands-on end-user training by key functions. We follow-up during and after the cutover with webinars and we go back onsite to work with users to ensure adoption and provide additional or advanced training as needed. Once we’ve proven that you can do your job better, faster, with less errors, clients become big fans.
You always have to stay a step ahead of the game. What keeps you engaged?
I’ve always been fascinated by technology and what it can do to improve our professional and personal lives. Technology is constantly changing, and the interrelationships and dependencies can be extremely daunting and complex. I really enjoy big challenges and seeing the smiles on client’s faces when we’ve solved a problem with our software.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My father once said to me, “I’ve been 20, 30, 40 and 50 years old and you haven’t. Don’t cut corners where you shouldn’t.” He taught me the value of rolling up your sleeves, doing the work and listening to smarter folks around you.
What do you do when you are not working?
I’m usually thinking about the next big thing for work. When I’m not thinking about work, I enjoy cooking, swimming and swim officiating as well as scuba diving and yoga with my son – all great stress reducers.
If you’re interested in moving towards a centralized fleet management solution, contact the Fleet Cost & Care team today.