SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. — One hears of efforts to help truckers better manage their day-to-operations profitably, but not so much about helping them with other financial matters such as college savings plans for their children or opening an IRA.
Enter the Evans Network of Companies, which recently introduced Evans Pitstop, an Internet-based portal to give its drivers the tools they need to manage their money in a larger sense and more besides.
“We really wanted to give drivers things they won’t get anyplace else,” said Chris Giltz, senior vice president of operations for Evans Network. “We wanted to help them address two of the most difficult financial challenges people face: sending your kids to college and retiring. So two of the things they can do [through the portal] are to start the process to set up a 529 for college funds and an IRA account for retirement.”
And, he told The Trucker, these are set up with the understanding that independent truckers may not have a steady paycheck or the same amount coming in week to week.
With that in mind, “We give them the ability to whenever they want to log in and change their [account] distribution amounts. So they can say, ‘hey, I know I’m having a slow week coming up next week; I don’t want anything going into savings. I don’t want anything going into my IRA, I don’t want anything going into my 529.’
“And then they may know they have a good couple of weeks coming up so then they may say, ‘let me increase what’s going into my savings or let me increase the amount now going into my 529 or my IRA.’
“Again, the concept is how do we make it really easy for them to start putting money away for those pretty difficult financial challenges?”
Giltz said another feature is the portal’s business resource section, through which drivers can ask such questions as “Did I get paid on this?” or “What’s my pay going to be this week?” And they have the flexibility to look up the information themselves.
Every Wednesday at 4 p.m. the independent contractors can log in and see what their settlement will be the following Friday instead of possibly coming up short on Friday afternoon without enough time to fix it.
“I think we do a good job of paying accurately and correctly but we’re not perfect and if there’s an error out there we have time to work with them. If it’s COMcheck or whatever, we have the time to work with them before Friday hits and it’s a surprise,” Giltz said.
They can even look up past pay. “They can log in, punch it up and see what date it was paid on and they can also run back to the settlement report because all the settlement reports are online and they can validate it and see and make sure they really did get paid for that,” he explained.
The portal has been open a few months and the company through its Evans University training arm recently did a Webinar for its drivers so they could ask questions about it.
“Pitstop is our way to create a sense of community among the independent contractors …. Drivers spend a great deal of time in virtual isolation in their trucks and this provides a resource through which they can be part of an online community,” Giltz said.
The five main Pitstop areas are:
• Personal wealth, where contractors learn about IRAs and college savings plans and can start the process to open an account and where they can manage the amounts flowing into those accounts
• Business resources, where drivers can see their above-mentioned settlement reports on Wednesdays as well as view their past pay reports
• Training, where they can complete a number of training exercises whether it be on hazmat or whatever, during their down time and even at home
• Information, an area where contractors can learn about what’s going on in the industry as well as get tips on how to make their daily trucking business more profitable, and
• Lifestyles, which includes such things as a marketplace where items are posted for sale; a travel agent to help plan vacations and a popular pinball game in which the driver with the highest monthly score can win a Nintendo Wii game system.
Throughout the portal is “Ask Earl,” giving drivers a direct line to the management team at Evans, which currently contracts with more than 1,400 independent contractors across the nation and more than 100 service centers throughout the U.S.
Evans provides transportation services in the intermodal container and drayage, van truckload and flatbed markets.
The Evans Network of Companies is a logistics partner with more than 1,600 tractors and comprises Evans Delivery Company; West Motor Freight of PA; All Points Transport; Hale Intermodal Trucking; Century Express; West Contract Services; Land Transportation; Phoenix Transit and Logistics; and DM Transportation Management Services.
For more information visit evansdelivery.com or call (877) 393-8267 (EVANS).
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.