Delivery fleet turns heads and earns business for copy company
(From the March-April 2013 print edition of Fleet Management)
Reprodux, one of Canada’s leading reprographers since it was founded 50 years ago, has nine locations across southern Ontario and 102 employees, in addition to its 33 dedicated drivers and 40 delivery vehicles, of which 17 are fully wrapped 2010 Nissan Cubes. The firm, which acquired Entire Imaging Solutions Inc in February 2013, also runs a Dodge Sprinter, Toyota Scion, Toyota Matrix, Ford Econoline van and a Chevrolet Sierra 4500 that does double duty as snowplow.
Today, the construction industry accounts for approximately half of Reprodux’s sales, with the remainder spread across everything from sole proprietorships to multinationals and government. Clients like Mattamy Homes and Menkes Developments choose Reprodux because they know their blueprints and related documents will get where they need to go the same day at no extra charge even if the order is placed after 1 pm. Those documents typically range from 11 by 17 inches, all the way up to 36 x 72 inches, and clients may require dozens of sets for distribution to electricians, surveyors and building permits departments.
Delivery is expedited and facilitated by the fact Reprodux has its own delivery fleet operating from multiple locations. Once files are received via email or online submission, they can be directed to the office closest to the order’s ultimate destination to expedite the delivery process.
“We’ve earned and maintained our reputation for the quickest and most reliable turnaround due in large part to our dedicated fleet,” says Dan Hemming, marketing manager, Reprodux. “The fact we use our own vehicles and drivers gives us the complete control we need to ensure we consistently meet our customers’ needs and expectations.”
This provides a distinct competitive edge, since Reprodux receives about 90 percent of its orders after noon or 1 pm, with delivery expected before the end of the day. Outside couriers would typically charge hefty premiums for overweight, oversize and same-day deliveries.
“Those orders simply wouldn’t get there with an outside courier and on the occasions we’ve outsourced delivery, it’s proved too expensive and unreliable,” says Jim Haden, locations and fleet manager, who manages the fleet in conjunction with Enterprise Fleet Management. “If it gets lost or arrives late, it reflects poorly on Reprodux, regardless of who actually carried the product.”
Back in 2010, CEO Kim Long first saw the Nissan Cube and figured its unique shape would make it the ideal advertising vehicle. While it’s virtually impossible to accurately determine what percentage of new business has resulted from the fully wrapped vehicles, drivers are regularly asked for business cards. On downtown streets, main thoroughfares and major highways, the Reprodux-branded Nissan Cubes do get noticed. While the Nissan Cubes promote Reprodux as a provider of printing services, the fact the firm wrapped its own vehicles has also won over new wrap customers.
“Our wrapped vehicles advertise our vehicle wrapping capabilities all over the GTA,” says Haden.
The vans offer plenty of cargo space once the back seats have been removed, and require relatively little preventive maintenance before they reach 160,000km. The vehicles in the Burlington and Mississauga areas tend to rack up the mileage much more rapidly than those in downtown and central Toronto, so Haden periodically rotates the vehicles to even out the mileage.
Enterprise tracks the mileage and maintenance, but rarely has to send e-mail reminders since the drivers tend to take the initiative. Drivers appreciate the fact they simply swipe their Enterprise card keys to pay for the oil changes at specified providers every 10,000 km. The oil changes give drivers a nine-minute break from the road, but courtesy vehicles are provided if more time is required for a repair. Likewise, Reprodux drivers are conscientious about keeping their vehicles clean and tidy.
“Because they’re in their vehicles about nine hours a day and care about their comfort and the image they present, they will spend half an hour with the shop vac or take it for washing and detailing, then have us reimburse them,” says Haden.
Reprodux relies almost exclusively on the Toronto Star’s helped-wanted advertisements to attract its drivers and has had a stellar success rate to date. Most are what Haden dubs ‘early retirees’ who made a career change in their mid to late fifties. One owned a clothing store, another owner-operator ran a garage and some worked for large organizations such as Sears and Bell.
So far, the length of service record is 18 years and the most recent hire has already hit the three-year mark. Hiring mature employees, many of whom owned and operated their own companies or worked as sole proprietors, ensures these drivers act like the owners so many businesses seek. Such entrepreneurial employees may also appreciate the fact that at the end of the day, they switch off the ignition and leave the day’s stresses in the lot with their Nissan Cubes.
When assessing a pool of non-professional drivers, Haden relies heavily on drivers’ abstracts when pre-screening. If the abstract looks great and the individual has been driving for 30 to 35 years, he figures they’ll be a good fit.
How does Reprodux attract and retain such conscientious, committed and safe drivers?
After 26 years as an owner/operator and auto mechanic who dealt with everything from the daily administrative headaches to the physical challenges of vehicle repair, Keith MacMillan’s head and body said, “Enough!” He decided a career change was in order.
“I wanted to take it easy for a while, but I got bored,” says MacMillan who had intended to work with Reprodux for just a few months. What does he like best about working at Reprodux? As MacMillan puts it, “I clicked with the people right away!” but as importantly, he likes the autonomy of being “on my own out on the road” and “Reprodux was a ten-minute walk from my house which was very convenient.”
As long as he gets the job done, MacMillan decides exactly how he’ll do it. For example, his knowledge of his designated area allows him to personally map out his routes for his 10 to 15 daily deliveries. He also has the opportunity to put his automotive expertise to use as Haden and others will ask him take a look at a vehicle if they have questions.
“They trust us and respect our good judgment and experience,” says MacMillan. “They make sure we’re aware of the vehicles’ maintenance guidelines and have no qualms about what it costs to keep the vehicles clean and properly serviced. They make it as easy as possible for us with preferred suppliers and payment systems, but beyond that it’s up to the drivers.”
While Reprodux doesn’t have profit-sharing or incentive programs, the firm is strategically considerate, equipping its Nissan Cubes with air conditioning and MP3 players in addition to subsidizing the drivers’ logoed uniforms (3-in-1 jackets, t-shirts, Oxford shirts, slacks, khaki shorts). Are such features really necessary in a work tool that’s on the road from 8 am to 5 pm and in the lot from dusk till dawn? Do the uniforms make a difference to the drivers or their customers?
“Yes – absolutely!” says MacMillan.
If you’ve ever been stuck in GTA traffic on a sunny summer day when the Humidex is off the charts, you know that AC is vital.
“It affects everything from the fatigue rate to your frame of mind, which in turn has an effect on productivity and attitude,” says MacMillan. “When the AC has broken down, Reprodux has gotten it fixed right away!”
The uniforms certainly play a role in Reprodux’s branding and marketing efforts, but practically, they identify Reprodux drivers as professionals while facilitating and expediting pickups and deliveries particularly in larger offices.
“Without the uniform, the receptionist might not know which package you get, hesitate before handing it over or even ask for ID,” says MacMillan, who is now in his ninth year with Reprodux.
While customer service and on-time deliveries are crucial, the drivers know that safety and responsible public image are equally important so they’re careful about respecting the rules of the road. Reprodux tested GPS systems on a couple of vehicles a few years back, but didn’t use it effectively enough to warrant keeping it. Six of the vehicles that came with the Entire acquisition have telematics and Haden expects it will further improve operating efficiencies with better routing.
“It can make our great customer service even better but we don’t need it to monitor our drivers’ behavior,” says Haden who has included general policy, ergonomics, driving safety and winter driving tips as part of on-site health and safety programming.
Adds MacMillan, “On average, most of the drivers have been with Reprodux for eight to 14 years – we don’t want or need to be micro-managed or watched closely.”