With just four drivers in 2014, Xtreme Express now has 70 vehicles on the roads of Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio. Roughly 160 employees make the fast-growing third-party logistics (3PL) company tick, offering one-hour and same-day delivery services throughout the Buckeye State.
Serving customers seven days a week, 24 hours a day is one of Xtreme Express’s differentiators, but it wasn’t always seamless, especially since teams initially managed logistics over text and email. “As we grew, we realized we had a communication problem,” says Xtreme Express’s safety and compliance director, Andrew Cost.
After assessing all available options through online research, Google reviews and articles comparing communication platforms, Cost found Slack, the secure channel-based messaging platform. “With Slack, we can communicate more effectively and efficiently across the company and have seen a huge uptick in response time for all our day-to-day issues,” he says. “We received the exact results we needed with Slack.”
Replacing unread emails and siloed text chains with a centralized messaging platform, Slack levels the playing field and provides a fun, approachable culture for employees across Xtreme Express. Regardless of which operating system or device someone uses—or whether they’re on the road, in the warehouse or at the office—they use Slack to intuitively collaborate, manage end-to-end deliveries, address on-the-road challenges and move work forward.
“All members of our executive and management teams use Slack daily: It gives everyone more visibility into our day-to-day operations.”
Staying accountable and compliant at 60 mph
To prepare for deliveries, triage delays and adhere to safety protocols, Xtreme Express’s dispatchers and managers communicate constantly. Before Slack, ambiguous text messages were sent in a silo, leaving little room for transparency and plenty of room for error.
Now teammates use Slack threads and channels to encourage accountability, address issues and gain historical context without worrying about losing data. City-specific channels allow local teams to stay in sync as they dispatch trucks, when timing is especially critical.
To maintain Xtreme Express’s level of customer service, operations platform Samsara integrates directly with Slack, allowing for instant updates, quicker incident resolutions and full visibility between managers and drivers. “This allows our team to track all assets and receive real-time notifications for any events occurring out there on the roads,” says Cost.
“In an industry like logistics, in-the-moment communication is crucial to our daily operations. Everything has to happen in real time, and Slack’s perfect for that.”
Managing the logistics of logistics from anywhere
For trucking, shipping and storing, as much time is spent behind a desk as it is outside, in a warehouse or on the road, making Slack’s mobile app a powerful lifeline. “The Slack app helps me keep in touch with my team when I’m on the go,” says Ben Miller, Xtreme Express’s senior general manager. “Logistics is a 24-hour-a-day industry, so having Slack in your pocket helps us stay on top of everything.”
Providing service at all hours means certain team members can get looped into an emergency situation at any time of day. Instead of making everyone slog through lengthy text chains outside working hours, a designated responder is on call to assess any situation and answer in real time before going back offline.
As they hustle to grow their business, Xtreme Express’s management team keeps Slack on every device they use, from phones to laptops to tablets. This allows them to stay abreast of news and last-minute changes, getting as high-level or granular as necessary. “If I need answers, I know I’ll get an instant response in Slack,” says Miller.
“Slack is the easiest way for me to reach out to someone and get a response, especially for time-sensitive items. I love Slack. It’s the best thing we’ve implemented on the tech side.”
Leveraging Slack to onboard and retain the industry’s best drivers
In the shadow of the supply chain crisis and inflation, the trucking industry continues to face high turnover rates, making hiring and retention essential. Even more challenging, Xtreme Express needs drivers who can deliver the customer service it’s known for as the company expands territories. Now more than ever, HR manager Michael Bowers recognizes the company’s hiring experience is just as important as its salary and benefit offerings.
Before Slack, a slow onboarding process was an immediate red flag to new hires. Now onboarding channels in Slack, like
#onboarding-box, allow HR to search for missing information and equip truckers to get on the road quicker. To troubleshoot any issues with payroll across satellite offices, Bowers spins up Slack huddles. “Many folks find payroll platforms clunky,” he says. “Since I use it every day, I can quickly hop on a huddle and share my screen so employees can get back to work.”
The new initiative is working: Thanks to fast answers and a more personalized experience, streamlined onboarding in Slack has led to improved driver retention.
“Since we moved our onboarding process into Slack, it’s so much simpler to search for the information a new employee might need, like logins and passwords.”
Setting themselves apart with an informal, forward-thinking culture
As part of a largely younger workforce, many Xtreme Express employees aren’t drawn to the rigid tenor of email. Especially in an industry that’s all about finding and capitalizing on efficiencies, taking the time to write an email and wait for a response feels painfully inadequate.
“Before Slack, life at Xtreme was all email, and I was not good at keeping up, so I’d miss important updates,” says Miller. “Since Slack, my back-and-forth with teams has increased, we can easily share files and communicate, and my mobile messaging alerts keep me in the loop.”
Cost explains that the ubiquity of text messaging makes Slack an intuitive choice for all his teams. “Slack is like sending texts, but in a professional wrapper,” he says. “Instead of writing boring emails, it’s fun, easy and effective to send a quick message.” For a workforce that can frequently be distributed across the state, Slack allows colleagues to stay true to themselves, communicating in a way that’s comfortable and familiar, yet efficient and productive.
Emoji further streamline communication, adding a sense of camaraderie and helping clarify intent. “I can come off as quite monotone, but Slack’s emoji add personality,” Bowers says. Dropping memes and funny videos and sharing work anniversaries and personal news into Xtreme Express’s #general team channel helps promote a welcoming culture. No matter where they are, employees feel connected: A new hire who works off-site recently told Bowers that her colleagues are the most fun group of people she’s ever worked with.
“Slack is our digital headquarters and go-to form of communication.”
Confidently paving the road for a new era of logistics
While shipping and coordinating the movement of items from point A to point B has been in practice for centuries, Slack gives Xtreme Express the momentum it needs to get ahead.
By empowering teams to quickly share information from anywhere in real time, stay compliant with trucking regulations and easily onboard new hires with an authentic sense of team connection, “Slack shows that we’re on the cutting edge of our field,” says Bowers. “Especially for a midsize company, it really sets us apart.” Miller agrees that while most logistics companies are stuck in the past, “Slack helps us keep our advantage, improve our communication and move work forward.”