What happens when you bring cloud communications to an industry still up to its neck in paperwork? After years at the front line of transport logistics, the founders of Driver Exchange set out to create the “Uber of the truck driving world.” The service now connects more than 8,000 freelance drivers with hirers across the UK. As co-founder Harry Blundun explained, Twilio is essential in helping Driver Exchange to charge 75% less than agency equivalents.
In heavy goods vehicle (HGV) logistics, margins are extremely tight—often around 3% for a hirer, with drivers accounting for the largest cost. Many distribution companies also take a manual approach to admin that eats into profits for the hirer, as well as the driver’s pay packet. It’s a situation that has created a shortage of truck drivers in the UK.
Freelance HGV drivers typically make up around a third of the workforce at big distribution centers. So, by using technology to create a direct connection between the hirer and the driver, there’s a potential for big operational savings, and a chance to attract fresh blood to the industry through better pay.
Driver Exchange is a people marketplace, connecting drivers looking for shifts with hirers seeking qualified drivers.
As HGV drivers spend long periods in 3G black spots, Blundun and team realised from the outset that to make the service work they needed reliable, easy-to-use communications technology. SMS notifications were the only suitable option.
When Driver Exchange went to market, Twilio was its partner of choice. “The whole idea wouldn’t really work without Twilio,” said Blundun. The team looked at a few alternative SMS vendors and found their pricing opaque and the technical set-up complex. It needed something it could integrate quickly and easily, and that could expand as business grows.
This is how the Driver Exchange service works:
A driver registers online. When a hirer books him onto a shift, the driver receives an SMS notification. After picking up the keys at the distribution center, the driver then receives another SMS confirming the shift start time. At the end of the shift, the driver receives another SMS confirmation. If anything major changes while on the job, the driver will receive another update. Each message contains a TinyURL link to the web app for more details if needed.
Hirers are happy because their margins increase, drivers are happy because the hirer passes savings on to them, and both parties are happy because everything is tracked and transparent.
Driver Exchange now has 8,000 registered drivers across the UK. Every day the marketplace handles thousands of shifts, sending tens of thousands of SMS notifications via Twilio every month.
Twilio is essential in allowing Driver Exchange to charge 75% less than agency equivalents.
The operational savings mean that Driver Exchange can charge a flat 50p per hour market fee, compared to the standard £2.50 per hour agency fee. With thousands of hours logged per day, those savings soon make a big financial difference for both drivers and hirers.
And Driver Exchange has plans to expand, using Twilio to help along the way. “When we have the capacity, we want to start to use the increasingly sophisticated things that Twilio has in its toolbox,” said Blundun. “It’s great that Twilio supports the sort of advanced functions that we’ll need based on our product roadmap.”