Jumping into the cab of Scott and Susie Bawcom’s Ford F450 truck, you’d think you just walked into an Apple Store.
The Bawcoms are die-hard Apple fans who use the tech products to run Dream Time Transportation (uShip profile), their shipping business of Nashville, Tenn.
Their gadget lineup would make Steve Jobs proud: 2 iPhones, an iPad2, a MacBook Pro and Apple’s iCloud service. They also have Comcast Xfiniti 4G Wi-Fi and a Rand McNally Intelliroute TND 710 Truck GPS.
And with 100 percent of their business coming from uShip.com, the Bawcom’s iPhones and iPad are loaded with uShip’s free mobile app so they have complete control of their account while managing customers’ shipments of boats, aircraft, RVs, cars, motorcycles, snow mobiles, and ATVs.
The Bawcoms represent a growing number of small business owners putting mobile devices and online applications to work, resulting in smoother, more efficient operations.
But if you aren’t familiar with the Bawcoms, you will be. They are two of six independent truckers profiled on Shipping Wars, A&E’s new real-life 10-episode series featuring uShip that premiered Jan. 10 and airs Tuesdays at 9/8C. Watch Episode 2 of Shipping Wars that features the Bawcoms and see more on uShip’s Shipping Wars show page.
While their mobile lineup may seem like a luxury for the Bawcoms, it’s actually been an absolute business necessity that has transformed their four-year old shipping company.
“We realized that a lot of jobs couldn’t wait,” says Scott. “For customers, it’s all about ‘right now,’ so if you can’t respond to customer questions immediately and wait until you get to the hotel that night, those jobs could be gone.”
Just two years ago, the Bawcoms put little reliance on mobile technology while on the road: Each night, after a full day of driving, Scott would fax bills of lading from truck stops, ask front desk clerks to make copies, organize his trip receipts so he could snail mail them back to the home office.
“It sucked!” Scott says of his clerical nightmare.
Today, for less than $3000, they are a rolling mobile hot-spot machine that’s done over 400 shipments and 500,000 miles through uShip. As a uShip Power Carrier, they have a uShip feedback score that’s pushing 200 and are CarrierWatch Verified, so they have proper DOT and Motor Carrier authority. And being a featured character in a primetime reality show won’t hurt business either.
Here’s how they use each piece of technology to make their business more efficient:
iPhone: through the uShip mobile app, Susie keeps track of loads, answers customers questions, and places bids and more, all without having to stop moving; snap images of loads so they have a time and date stamp for verification purposes; text-to-voice and vice versa app so Scott can keep both eyes on the road.
MacBook Pro: primarily used for finding loads and other businesses communication; synced with other Apple devices and services.
iPad2: a digital log book; scanner app for fuel, food and hotel receipts that get immediately emailed back to the home office accounting department; tracks hours of service and GPS identifies where they are when they stop
iCloud (service that stores all your music, photos, apps, calendars, docs and more – all “somewhere, up there” so you don’t have to keep it on your hard drive): used as a customer contact management system; photo stream for “proof resource” photos that verify condition of loads at pickup and drop-off.
uShip Mobile App: this free application gives the Bawcoms mobile access to their uShip account, including the ability to:
- Find loads near you to keep your trucks full
- Place bids from the road – or from anywhere else
- Ask and answer questions
- View booking details, including contact information for customers
- Check in and update your status
- Receive online payments
Rand McNally Intelliroute TND 710 Truck GPS: the Bawcoms plug-in their current load height and width parameters and the GPS offers the best routes for their destination.
Comcast Xfiniti 4G Wi-Fi: cell phone-sized modem that is secured inside the truck; connects up to 5 devices
So how are you using mobile in your transport business?