Atlantic Utility Trailer Sales, Inc. has been working hard for its customers since 2002, but the company’s roots go back much further. The primary ownership team spent 20 years growing a successful, multi-location dealership in Ontario and Quebec in Eastern Canada before returning to their hometown of Philadelphia and securing the Utility Trailer Manufacturing rights for the South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania regions. Today, the company has grown from three founders to a team of nearly 40, many who have been with the organization since its earliest days. Its current home is a 20-acre facility in Thorofare, New Jersey that offers new and used equipment sales, service, and parts for both trailers and trailer refrigeration equipment and operates a large trailer leasing and rental fleet.
The dealership has grown considerably over the 19 years they’ve been in business, but two things remain the same—the family-owned company continues to be steadfastly committed to Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company, a relationship that goes back more than 40 years and exclusively focused on the transport trailer industry. Both are choices they credit as integral to past and future success. The company continues to put integrity first in everything their team does: it’s their mission to bring value to their customers, be responsible to their employees, and partner well with their suppliers—all values we share here at Procede Software.
An Empowered Team that Goes the Extra Mile
Atlantic Utility Trailer Sales stands out from its competitors for many reasons, but their people and their business model are at the top of the list. As Spencer Kiernan, Dealer Principal and CFO explains, “Our people and our business model are what make us special. We operate a very lean, flat organization and our owners are actively involved in the business, so we’re able to make decisions quickly. Because of the longevity of our team, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience to leverage. They’re empowered to make decisions, which provides them with the flexibility to accommodate the unique challenges our customers face.”
Their business model is also a little different from many traditional dealerships. The company was one of the first in the industry to offer a lease and rental fleet. Today, that fleet business is approximately 1,500 trailers strong, and they are able to support their customers with 24/7 breakdown service anywhere in North America. Kiernan explains, “Our lease and rental operation helps us better understand the challenges our customers face, and that allows us to think and react differently. Our team is always willing to go the extra mile to help our customers succeed. It’s both challenging and rewarding to be in the trenches with customers every day, but it’s played a big role in our success.”
From a Patchwork of Off-the-Shelf Solutions to a Complete Business System
By 2014, Atlantic Utility Trailer Sales had outgrown the patchwork of off-the-shelf and semi-custom software they were using—different tools for Accounting, Parts, and Serviceg—to manage their fleet. They weren’t able to create recurring invoicing for their lease customers: instead, they were recreating hundreds of invoices every month, which proved laborious and time-consuming. On the Service side, they weren’t able to see a vehicle’s history—just hand-written repair orders. They were in the market for a more complete business system that would streamline processes and fuel growth to the next level. They wanted a 360-degree solution that could do it all—Sales, Service, Parts, Accounting, and Leasing—and would enable them to access their data to make more informed business decisions.
Kiernan had taken part in the implementation of a new DMS at another dealership and was aware of some of the solutions in the market. As the team began their research in earnest, they reached out to other dealerships for recommendations. However, Procede Software wasn’t on their radar until Kiernan encountered their booth at the annual National Trailer Dealers Association (NTDA) Convention. As their search grew more serious, Atlantic Utility narrowed their choices to two options. While a trip to Procede headquarters in San Diego to explore the Lease/Rental module sealed the deal, it was attending the annual Procede Software Conference (PSC) that made Kiernan certain the dealership had made the right choice.
The merit of the decision was reinforced as the Procede Software and Atlantic Utility Trailer Sales teams worked together to resolve hiccups they encountered during the implementation process. As Kiernan explains, “The challenges aren’t what is important. What is important is how the Procede team handled them. They took the time to understand any issues we encountered and figured out what was needed to make the system work for us.
Kiernan goes on to describe the efficiency gains the company realized post-implementation: “Excede DMS provides valuable visibility on the Service side. We can see a vehicle’s Service history which is particularly beneficial for our lease fleet. Previously, we had to rely on memory or dig through files to find invoices. Excede makes it easier to identify recurring problems or see if a previous vendor didn’t fix something properly. It allows us to deliver better customer service data—we can offer suggestions and solutions and even prevent issues. The data available to us in Excede helps us make better decisions for our customers, as well as for our business.”
They’ve realized benefits on the accounting side of things as well. “Being able to create recurring invoices for our lease customers has saved us so much time. We used to have a full-time employee dedicated to it. Now, that person spends only half their time invoicing and works on other accounting issues the rest of the time,” said Kiernan.
A Shared Passion for Helping Customers Solve Problems
It’s been six years since Procede Software first implemented Excede DMS at Atlantic Utility Trailer Sales, and Kiernan reflects on what it has been like to work with the company and team over the years, saying, “Procede has been great to work with. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many people on the team, and their passion for helping their customers solve problems really stands out. Whenever we’ve had a question or concern, they have addressed it in a timely fashion, even when it meant bringing in senior management to better understand and resolve it.”
Kiernan also describes the impact of Excede DMS on their business, saying, “Excede has enabled us to use our data to make better decisions. This is particularly evident on the Parts and Service sides of the business. With every release, Excede gets better. New features solve problems for us or making existing workflows more efficient, so our team has more time to work on customer-facing tasks and grow the business.”
Looking ahead, Kiernan anticipates a future in which there is tighter integration between customers and their equipment and service providers: “The biggest changes, in my opinion, will be driven by the customer demands for access to information. Customers will rely on us for best practices for maintaining their vehicles and fleets. They may want us to log into their account and provide expert advice or remote assistance—essentially telemedicine for the trailer. Being able to bring added value to customers in this way will keep them coming back to us.” Kiernan anticipates Procede Software’s role in this, saying, “We are looking forward to Procede Software and Excede DMS continuing to help us turn our data into information we can use to serve our customers more efficiently and effectively.”
Better Software, a Better Roadmap, and a Better Partnership
“What I always tell people who ask about Procede Software and Excede DMS is that it is not just that they have better software, a better roadmap, and a better understanding of the industry, it all comes down to how they partner with their customers. The way they collaborate, whether it’s at the Procede Software Conference or through the Excede Insider Program, shows how forward-thinking and committed they are to understanding their customers’ pain points.”
At Procede Software, we’d say that partnering well is a two-way street—we’re grateful Atlantic Utility Trailer Sales happened upon our booth at the NTDA Convention all those years ago and that they chose to partner with us. Looking ahead, we’re excited about our future collaboration and continuing to help this outstanding dealership fulfill its mission to bring value to its customers.