'Owner-drivers take pride in their work': WA-based logistics boss calls out big fleets

By: Cobey Bartels

In an era when large transport companies are taking a strong hold of the market, UC Logistics Australia general manager Urszula Kelly insists bigger is not better.

'Owner-drivers take pride in their work': WA-based logistics boss calls out big fleets
General Manager of UC Logistics Australia, Urszula Kelly.


The head of Perth-based UC Logistics Australia has hit out at the service provided by big transport companies, saying it’s often sub-standard.

Kelly says after a year heading up a logistics brokerage service specialising in mining and construction, she’s become frustrated by glaring industry inefficiencies, particularly as other service industries strive to constantly improve customer service in competitive marketplaces.

However, she says rather than streamlining processes and creating a better customer experience, many well-established medium to big transport companies are stuck in the dark ages.

"They think they can rule the market, set trends and tell the smaller guys what to do," Kelly says.

"The reality is, too many of them have been getting away with embarrassingly poor service for too long."

Part of the solution she says, is for clients to get over the idea that ‘big is better’ and look to smaller owner-operators who are delivering a much better job at a lower price.

Kelly says while it’s not widely known, it is common practice in busy periods for the big firms to subcontract work to smaller companies anyway, without informing clients.

Her other criticisms of the big operators are that on average just four from 10 respond when her staff ask for quotes and if they do reply the figures are often late, arriving well after the freight has been shipped.

She also says negotiations around quoted prices are unnecessarily long and convoluted, consignments are handled by multiple staff that often can’t readily access information for the customer and high driver turnover which decreases efficiency.

"Lack of communication between departments is a common excuse for errors and what’s worse is that rather than that being regarded as a fundamental problem within the organisation, it is used openly as an explanation to the customer for poor service.

"There’s no doubt they need a shake-up.

"It is time they took a hard look at procedures that are obviously stumbling blocks to good customer service.

"In contrast, small contractors or so called owner-drivers, take pride in their work, look after their equipment and make sure that every bit of the job is done perfectly, so you call them again.

"Chances are that the operator has been in the industry for many years and is an expert in what he does.

"He doesn’t have a team of pushy sales people to keep the consignments flowing or 50 other trucks on different jobs; rather every customer is cherished, whether they are big organisation or a small broker.

"It’s good to know you don’t have to call 16 people to find out where your freight is; one guy can tell you how freight was loaded, how far from the destination it is, any delays that might have occurred and most importantly, the reason for the delay.

"In these times where smaller companies are being pushed out by the big guys, we have decided to buck the trend to ensure we continue to deliver the very best possible service.

"I am really hoping that clients come to understand that they deserve better and start reaching out to smaller transport suppliers."

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