Keychain Logistics makes bold promises to the freight transportation industry. Can they deliver?
Keychain Logistics has made two bold promises. The company has promised truckers that they will never drive empty again and has promised shippers that Keychain will improve their bottom line.
Can the company deliver on these promises?
Who is Keychain Logistics?
Keychain is a leading transportation provider enabling businesses to directly engage carriers, track shipments, and monitor its logistics needs online.
According to Bryan Beshore, the company’s founder, Keychain grew out of the idea that a technology driven marketplace could operate with significantly lower overhead than a manual, human powered brokerage:
“My initial contact with the industry was in 2000. I have researched, analyzed, and thought about the industry ever since. Keychain is a product in understanding the fundamental efficiency problems the third party logistics industry has faced for a long time.”
Beshore goes on to point out that while building a technology company is tough, building Keychain was easier than anticipated:
“With Keychain it was a natural process and easier than I had imagined. I believe the reason for this is twofold: the challenges this industry faces are huge, and the solutions we are building to meet those problems are really fun to solve. Because our work directly affects the wallets of our users (increased pay for drivers, better rates for shippers), we are effectively helping people create better lifestyles for themselves and their families, and that’s really rewarding.”
The company was slated to be built in 2007; however, the timing was not right given the low proliferation of internet-connected mobile devices (500 million). Beshore waited. In 2012 he decided to move forward with the launch of the company (the number of internet connected devices reached 8.7 billion in 2012).
How does it work?
One can draw a parallel between Keychain and Uber – the company removes the broker and connects truckers directly with shippers therefore enabling truckers to focus on driving and shippers to focus on selling products.
Keychain is a marketplace for truckers to book commercial shipments directly with shippers. The company’s technology matches owner operator drivers (and small fleets) with shippers who rely on Keychain Logistics to find the ideal carrier for their freight.
The core of the company’s platform is their network of ten-of-thousands of carriers throughout the US who are connected 24/7/365 via Keychain’s iOS, Android, and Windows phone apps. Keychain can instantly communicate load opportunities to independent owner-operators, 97 percent of whom operate in fleets of 20 trucks or less, and small carrier fleets.
Too good to be true?
One of the biggest challenges the company has faced is that it is perceived as being “too good to be true.” Beshore:
“The transportation industry is traditional and technologically far behind. Because of this, the inherent challenge to sharing our offering is overcoming the “too good to be true” bias. While many of our potential customers have wanted a product like ours for a while, they either don’t know how to articulate it in a Google search or are skeptical that tech companies like Keychain are committed to solving their problems.”
Solving immediate need
Keychain has been working to overcome the perception of being too good to be true. It has been talking to current users, and has honed in on developing a solid marketing message. The message – we can solve your immediate need.
Not expressing the full-vision up front has been a challenge when Keychain reaches out to companies with whom they have little or no relationship; however, they have found that solving an immediate need is what gets companies excited.
What immediate need(s) can the company address? According to Beshore: “For shippers, this is getting them access to trucks, sometimes within just minutes of our first contact. For drivers, this means getting them a paying load when they’re stuck at a rest stop, are far from home, or simply need a line-haul out.”
Leveraging social media to grow the company
The company has found that one of the best ways to use social media is for listening. Rather than spend time and money putting together and distributing sales literature, the company searches for relevant industry hashtags (i.e.: #trucking) to see what people are talking about, and more importantly what they care about. By using social media this way, Keychain is an audience to users instead of the other way around. This has enabled the company to shape their offering with a solid understanding of what people want from a transportation provider.
“From phone calls to interviews, crowdfunded campaign partnerships, and beyond, social media has certainly helped us grow our business,” says Beshore.
Can they deliver?
Can Keychain deliver on their bold promises? Their customers believe so. Here is what three customers say about the company:
“With Keychain I no longer have to waste hours on logistics. Their platform makes it easy to quickly enter shipment details and receive the most competitive rates available.” Marc DeVidts, Double Robotics
“Keychain gives us instant access to thousands of reliable carriers nationwide. It’s the most efficient and cost effective tool we’ve found.” Nathan Brown, Reclaimed American Hardwood
“Within minutes I can enter my shipment details and Keychain handles the rest. Annoying phone calls and exorbitant broker fees are over.” Ad Sachan, Treeline Woodworks.