In a recent video interview with Fleet Management Weekly, PARS Vice President of Sales & Client Relations Teri Ross explained how PARS’ advanced systems permit customized data exchange to serve the needs of a fleet management company and its customers. According to Ross, this capability simplifies and speeds management of vehicle transport and associated services. She notes that the FMC account management team can stay within its own account management software to access the PARS customer’s portal to take action, check status of vehicles and any associated repairs, storage, titling, and so on. She notes that this integration is a huge win-win for both the FMC and its customers. Ms. Ross’ complete interview can be found here: https://bit.ly/2E5Wl0c
2018 Fleet Hall of Fame Inductees Revealed
October 1, 2018
PARS founder Jim Christiano was named to Fleet Hall of Fame last night during the 2018 Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) Conference at the JW Marriott Orlando, FL. He was selected through an online public survey online. The Fleet Hall of Fame is now comprised of 81 members.
In marking the event, Automotive Fleet summarized Jim’s career:
“Jim Christiano joined Buick in 1971, serving in service and sales roles for the Buick Motor Division at locations across the United States. In 1981, he transferred to Buick’s home office in Flint, Mich., and took on the role of director of fleet sales, his first official role in fleet. He led Buick’s Olympics project, placing 10,000 Buicks on the ground in Los Angeles.
After leaving Buick in 1986, he opened a dealership for a time, which he sold in 1991. He later managed sales for a drive-away business, and founded PARS in 1998. In its first year, PARS quoted 50 moves a day and received 10 orders. Since then, the company has grown dramatically, recently moving into new 10,000 square-foot headquarters in Gainesville, Va. He led PARS until 2006 (when his daughter, Lori Rasmussen, took over), but he remains active in the business.”
Congratulations to Jim, his wife, Marilyn, and his family for this well-deserved honor! (Photo courtesy of AFLA)
Courtesy of Automotive Fleet
Consider the following situation: A fleet management company places an order to vehicle logistics provider PARS to pick up a car from a terminated employee of a fleet customer and to then deliver it to a new hire.
But, after the PARS driver uses the new PARS driver app to assess and document the car’s condition, the PARS customer service team immediately advises the fleet manager of the car’s condition and provides a copy of the signed pick-up condition report with extensive photos.
The fleet manager can see that the terminated employee did not take very good care of the vehicle, which showed numerous exterior blemishes.
“Now the fleet manager can decide, based on the pictures, ‘Do I want to get those blemishes fixed, or do they not look that bad where I could just thoroughly detail the car and deliver it to the new employee without any repairs?’” said Erik Rasmussen, director of strategic operations for PARS.
The above situation is fictitious, but Rasmussen likes to provide examples to show how the new app’s real-time features can benefit fleets. He notes that the app allows fleet managers and fleet management companies to see real-time order updates from the minute a vehicle is picked up or delivered. Never before have customers seen such thorough condition reports with photos standard and available real time, he said.
The New Tech
Previously, the process was paper-driven. PARS drivers would carry three-ply carbon copy bill of lading forms that included the vehicle pickup information, destination information, and a condition report that the PARS driver would fill out.
The problem was it wasn’t real-time, because the PARS driver had to call that information back to a PARS field office representative, and the representative might or might not immediately key it into the system.
“They may key order and vehicle in-formation at the end of the day,” Rasmussen said. “It was not real-time, not comprehensive, and we certainly didn’t capture pictures like we do with the PARS driver app today.”
The new PARS driver app has been about three years in the making. PARS’ previous IT system for vehicle delivery worked well, but in 2014 the company began looking to improve it in areas such as more integration with fleets and fleet management companies’ vehicle management systems. PARS considered whether to rebuild its existing system or start from scratch.
“Ultimately, we decided to start from scratch,” Rasmussen said. The company adopted a customer relationship management (CRM) product that PARS customized for its logistical needs. The system houses all of PARS’ customer and order data and marketing information. The company at the same time implemented a new customer portal and web site.
“And we knew from the beginning that mobile was going to be part of it,” he said.
Evolution of the App
In early 2016, after the new order management system was stable and functional, PARS’ focus immediately shifted to a mobile app. The result is an app with features such as real-time updates to orders available through the PARS customer portal regarding pickup and delivery; and detailed electronic condition reports that provide photos, damage documentation, confirmation of glovebox contents, and capturing of pickup and delivery signatures.
Rasmussen came up with another fictitious example to show how the new app’s real-time features can benefit fleets. The scenario would involve PARS picking up a vehicle from a terminated employee, with the vehicle showing body damage that the termi-nated employee failed to report. In some cases, fleet management companies and fleet managers are now using the information in the PARS app report to charge the terminated employee for the damages he or she failed to report.
“They have the pictures and the detailed condition reporting with the signature, too,” said Rasmussen. “The pickup party and the delivery party both sign these condition reports, so it’s a document they can use in the case of going back and charging separated employees for unreported damage.”
In the coming months, PARS will kick off an unusual anniversary celebration ad campaign. Rather than looking back at its growth, continuous investment in the best people and technology, or review its history of service excellence, PARS will focus on specific cases of “helping to drive business results” for its customers through innovative, responsive and customized transport solutions. The first ad details how a leading national provider of home healthcare services that serves nearly 400,000 patients found that PARS shared the same formula for success — built on responsiveness and customer-driven service. Future PARS ads will highlight the value of PARS’ partnerships with companies in other fields.
PARS just announced the hiring of Teri Ross as Vice President of Sales & Client Relations, reporting to PARS President Lori Rasmussen, President and Chief Operating Officer. Ross replaces Terry Langness, who announced his retirement effective January 31, 2018.
Ross, an accomplished fleet industry professional, has over 20 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, sales and marketing, contract negotiations and project management within the fleet industry.
According to Rasmussen, Ms. Ross will be responsible for developing strategic sales plans based on company goals as well as strengthening existing customer relationships.
“In her career, Teri has shown an extraordinary ability to build successful teams that consistently achieve company goals and deliver impeccable service in several different fleet service company settings.
“Her unique fleet-specific skill set includes fleet service operations, account management, project management, and consultative services,” noted Rasmussen. “Finally, she brings an established record of advocacy on behalf of her clients that aligns with PARS’ high-touch customer service commitment.”
Ross joins PARS after 10 years with a leading fleet management company, where she served as vice president of client services. Prior to that, she directed marketing and sales for a vehicle transport company. She is an active member of NAFA, AFLA and AALA.
Langness Looks Back
Ross replaces Terry Langness, a 40-plus-year fleet industry influential who began his career in various leadership positions with Gelco Corporation and GE Capital Fleet Services.
Rasmussen notes that Langness was a key contributor to PARS’ growth since he joined the transport logistics leader in 2002: “In the early years, simple point-to-point transport projects were the norm. However, as fleet demands became more complex, we invested in advanced technology and began to offer additional services, such as repairs, storage, license and titling, and more.
Terry led his team through this transition by introducing a more consultative sales effort and working directly with the end customers.”
Terry Langness has been involved with AFLA for many years, serving on its Board as Director-at-Large, Education Committee chair, the golf chair and member of the Sponsorship and Membership committees. He won the AFLA President’s Award in both 2010 and 2011. He has also been active in NAFA on both the national and chapter levels.
Looking back on his career, Terry Langness said, “It is hard to believe that I have been blessed to be in this industry for almost 43 years. I have truly enjoyed the friendships, associations and competition. This is an industry of professionals, and I will miss the networking opportunities at AFLA, NAFA and AALA. But, it is time to spend more time with my family and with my grandchildren, as they are growing up so fast.
“PARS is a great company and will continue to lead the industry in both service & technology. It has been fun to be a small part of the success that we have seen over the past 15 years. The company is great and the people are the greatest!” he added.
Automotive Fleet’s Daryl Lubinsky wrote a comprehensive article on the orgins and progress of Women in Fleet Managerment (WIFM) entitled Women in Fleet: Intimidated No More. Read it here:
PARS offers two methods of moving vehicles — driveaway and transport/auto carrier, and there are advantages and disadvantages for both.
The primary advantage to driveaway is the ability to have additional services performed on the vehicle while in route. PARS offers detailing, inspections, department of motor vehicle transactions, repair and maintenance.
Our dedicated Customer Support specialists will direct our drivers to perform the services required, based on the customer’s specific parameters. Our professional drivers then have the necessary services performed and keep the pickup and delivery parties informed on the delivery status in real time using our new mobile app. Our customer portal reflects the specific status of each move and keeps our customers informed.
Another major advantage is our ability to control the pickup and delivery times to make sure that we are working to meet the needs of the recipient driver’s schedule. Any delays (weather, road constructions, etc.) are communicated to the customer to make the pickup and delivery as seamless as possible. PARS’ vast network of drivers and field offices ensures that the vehicles are picked up and delivered on time, every time.
The disadvantage of driveaway are the additional miles put on the vehicle. For long distances, it ,may be more cost competitive to transport; however, PARS logistics specialists can proffer an expert recommendations.
The primary advantage of transport is that no miles are put on the vehicle. It can also be less costly, depending on the distance of the move. However, if the vehicle requires any type of additional service, transport is not an alternative. The vehicle will arrive in the same condition as when it was picked up. It is also much more difficult to control the timing of the move when it is transported/trucked. In most instances, the delivery is inexorably tied to the trucker’s and schedule.
Feel free to call PARS fleet vehicle transport experts anytime to plan and implement your next project.
Vice President, National Sales
Mobile: (612) 670-8256
Gainesville VA, September 19, 2016 – PARS, the leader in fleet vehicle transport and logistics, has added a mobile app for its drivers giving PARS customers access to real-time order information and detailed vehicle condition reports through the PARS customer portal.
According to Erik Rasmussen, PARS Director of Strategic Operations, today’s fleet managers face much shorter decision time frames and more complicated moves involving large numbers of vehicles, coordination between multiple fleet service providers; varied vehicle services, and numerous logistical concerns.
“Our mobile app will not only provide important order details and tools optimizing PARS driver efficiency and accuracy,” notes Rasmussen, “but it provides customers with the most accurate and timely information about their orders and vehicle condition, allowing better decision making and optimized fleet management.”
Key mobile app customer benefits include:
• Real-time updates to orders available through the PARS customer portal regarding pickup and delivery
• Detailed electronic condition reports – emailed to the pickup and delivery party and available on the PARS customer portal – providing photos, documenting damages, confirming glovebox contents, ensuring accessory operations, and capturing pickup and delivery signatures
• Confirmation of services completion
The new mobile app, optimized for both iOS and Android smartphones, keeps our drivers in constant contact with our field offices.
The new PARS mobile app also provides a number of operational enhancements, including:
• Visibility into available orders to logistically optimize vehicle movement and avoid “deadhead” miles
• Assigned order details and management, including phone calls to pick up and delivery, services execution, and condition reporting
• Completion of pickup and delivery condition reports, including standard photos, damage photos, and customer sign off
• Access to PARS partnerships and discount codes for hotels and transportation
• Accident reporting including critical information and photos
“This new mobile app represents a key part of our continued technology leadership strategy,” adds Rasmussen. “It is the latest example of integrating our industry-leading order management system built upon Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Technology has been and remains a key differentiator for PARS, ensuring that we continue to make our fleet customers’ jobs easier in a very demanding industry.”
This year’s AFLA conference got off to an impressive start when PARS president Lori Rasmussen introduced the WIFM keynote speaker, Susan Lund. Susan spoke on the topic, Ignite Your Selling Potential, based on her best-selling book, Ignite Your Selling Potential: 7 Simple Accelerators to Drive Revenue and Results Fast. PARS sponsored the presentation along with LeasePlan.
PARS’ new driver mobile app made headlines in the AFLA-distributed edition of Fleet Management Weekly. You can read all about the benefits for PARS customers in the next post.
PARS press contact also included Fleet Management Weekly’s Janice Sutton interview of Erik Rasmussen, director of strategic operations, who reviewed technology trends in the fleet industry as well as PARS’ new mobile driver app.
What do the ice cream capital of the world, the birthplace of the Ferris wheel, and the home of the world’s longest boardwalk all have in common?
These are all places PARS drivers have been as part of a vehicle relocation!
Each year PARS drivers log millions of miles relocating customers’ vehicles. There aren’t too many cities or towns in the United States that PARS drivers haven’t experienced as part of a vehicle pickup or delivery. Naturally, visiting so many different places leads to some interesting stories and obscure factoids from our drivers.
Did you know that Myrtle Beach, SC, is considered mini golf capital of the world? Or “The Outsiders” was filmed in Owasso, OK? Or Norfolk, VA, boasts the USS Wisconsin? Or Bennington, VT, has a 306-foot obelisk commemorating the Battle of Bennington? These are places our drivers have experienced and enthusiastically described to their colleagues and families.
“We have a number of drivers who will tell me stories about the places they go, the history, the people, and the architecture. I enjoy listening to their stories and learning new trivia about American cities,” remarked our Kansas City employee, Kim Boese.
Sometimes, a pickup or delivery location will be off the beaten path, making logistical planning difficult. Scott Krug, manager in our Chicago office, recalled, “We have had delivery destinations where no public transportation options, such as a taxi or bus, existed. We then must get creative to ensure our drivers have a ride following the delivery. I remember delivering to a small town in the Midwest where we had to call the local chamber of commerce to find out that there was a shuttle van that ran once a day to the nearest major city.”
So, if you’re wondering if PARS has been to your town, chances are we have. And, if we haven’t been there, we will. Who knows, maybe our driver will even share stories about your town and what makes it so special!
(Below: photo of obelisk in Bennington, VT)