Father and son duo, Pete and George Jones discuss their family-run business and the ups and downs of introducing transport software into the company.
Established in 1972, Sunhill Transport are a 3rd generation family-run haulage business. The FORS Gold accredited company is run by managing director, Pete Jones and supported by his son and the company’s transport planner, George Jones. They specialise in steel haulage but also offer bulk volume services with their fleet of 28 Volvos. In this article, we sit down with the father and son duo to discuss their roles, and their experiences with transport software.
HaulTech: Pete and George, can you tell us about your roles at the company and what they involve?
Pete: I’m the managing director at Sunhill, basically, I oversee everything that happens and strategise for the long term. Whilst my son (George) handles the day-to-day tasks.
George: Yeah, as the Transport Planner, I essentially do what the job title says. When work comes in, I plan it out, ensure the drivers know what they are doing and make sure compliance rules are met.
HaulTech: It’s not been that long since you started using a transport management system, can you tell us why you made the jump?
Pete: I am quite traditional in the way I do things, I didn’t really want to move to a system but I know that for future generations we needed to. Beforehand we used a spreadsheet to plan our work and had paper tickets for our drivers, it’s the way I knew how to do things but the thing was, I felt out of control, when you have paper everywhere and a spreadsheet, how are you meant to oversee all your operations? It’s too difficult to have visibility. So having a transport management system was about having control, making things speedier and so we could be up to scratch with others who are using systems.
George: I would say the traditional way of working doesn’t hold up any more, especially when you have 28 vehicles to manage, it doesn’t seem plausible. I can imagine it’s a struggle for smaller fleets, never mind larger ones. I think the jump going from manual to a tech product is frightening but with the way the industry is going, it’s a necessity and a nicety combined into one and it’s worked out for us.
HaulTech: What impact have you seen since using the system?
Pete: Invoicing is so much better and easier, we do it on a weekly basis. Beforehand it was challenging to be so consistent, especially when you had to find paperwork, but now we just scan documents into the system and it sends them for us. The fact we are able to do that has been a major factor in improving cashflow. It can’t make errors either, before we might have accidentally duplicated stuff and now the system doesn’t allow that, it’s the small things like that which make you appreciate it even more. But George uses the system for the day-to-day stuff and it’s helped him out a lot too.
George: Yeah, it’s done a lot for me. We use automated rate tables so quoting jobs is super fast. We use a lot of sub-contractors and being able to have them on the system and get work to them is so simple. I think it’s just having everything in one place, it makes life that much easier. There are even little details like being able to add a vehicle’s MOT renewal date and getting prompts when it’s approaching, it makes the system so reliable.
HaulTech: Have you faced any struggles with the system?
Pete: It’s perhaps a generational thing but it took me a bit of time to get used to the system. Once you are used to using it then it’s simple but when you don’t use technology and then jump into this, it’s difficult. The good thing is, we had the support from the team at HaulTech, so if it was a case of “how do I do this?” then someone is there on the other end of the phone to give me help.
George: I would agree that it can be difficult to get a grasp of but the results far outweigh the time it took to learn. I’d still say I have a lot to learn, we’ve already bettered our operations but I know that I haven’t scratched the surface of what it can do which depending on how you look at it, that’s a major positive.
HaulTech: What would you say to other haulage companies that are similar to yours?
Pete: You might be nervous about the change but in the end you’ve got to put the nerves aside and take the leap. It helped that HaulTech supported us in doing that.
George: I would say embrace the fact that the future of haulage is technology and make the move forward. It’s easy to doubt tech when you use traditional methods but at one point people used just paper, then they moved to a spreadsheet which was frightening but they improved things and got used to working that way and now the next step is a Transport System and you will get used to using one and be thankful that you did once you see how fast and simple it makes things.
Is your business wondering about the next steps in their transport operations? We have a team of experienced professionals with a combined knowledge of over 150 years in the haulage industry that are on hand to discuss what those next steps look like. You can contact them today by clicking here, calling 01782 662244 or saying firstname.lastname@example.org.