Expecting the unexpected
As for the future of these time-critical services, Miller said he sees a lot more room for standardization. Currently, time:matters is working on a platform to digitize and automate some labor-intensive processes that should cut the processing time from 60 minutes to just three.
Based on recurring patterns in certain segments, time:matters has also developed modules for certain popular verticals. This changes the game to a “planned emergency,” where standard operating processes for emergency solutions are integrated into the preparation. For shippers, this means that they do not have to scramble for a response when a problem threatens to derail their operations, Miller added.
For the most part, operators are upbeat about the potential of this segment going forward. Miller described management of growth as his biggest challenge, as he sees potential in a number of areas. “You need focus,” he reflected. “If you do too much, there is a danger that you end up with too many manual processes.”
So far the heightened interest in the time-critical sector has not affected yields, according to operators. Many clients are not too concerned about the cost, as their overriding priority is to bring a costly disruption of their operations to an end as fast as possible.
Still, it would be counterproductive to charge extravagantly for time-critical solutions, said Priority Freight’s Stobie. “If you don’t behave in an ethical manner, you can make a lot of money on a single job, but you can lose a customer very quickly,” he commented. “Our customer turnover is very low, less than one percent. They realize we do not rip them off.”
After all, there’s only so much money a soccer team can spend on emergency shoes.