How Relay Payments Fights Fraud and Fosters Relationships
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In this episode, Blythe discusses fighting fraud and the value of great customer service with Meghann Erhart, EVP at Relay Payments. She emphasizes customer service rooted in empathy, honed through over 15 years in the industry and firsthand experiences with drivers. Meghann also stresses the importance of kindness and fostering strong relationships within the freight community.




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Show Transcript

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Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly sponsored by SPI Logistics and I'm your host, Blythe Brumleve. I'm happy to welcome in Meghann Erhart. She is the EVP at Relay Payments. We're going to be talking about fighting fraud in the industry it's a never-ending topic but also the value of great customer service. So, Meghann, welcome into the show.

Meghann Erhart: 0:29

Thanks for having me today, Blythe. I'm really excited to be on here with you and glad for Mike for introducing us, so it'll be fun.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:37

Yes, a former guest on the pod, Mike Lombard. He has a great show, so he introduced us earlier this year and I said I got to talk to her and after I listened to y'all's conversation, I'm so excited for this because a little bit of background for folks who may not know Relay Payments provides fast and secure digital payments connecting fleets, brokers and merchants on a secure digital payment network to increase revenue for all parties and evolved. Now you live just right outside of Knoxville. Relay Payments is headquartered in Atlanta. Little bit of background. You got an engineering degree from Georgia Tech. You worked at a hardware / software company right out of college and then you went to work for Pilot where you got some real world experience of working closely with drivers on a kind of a day to day basis. But the quote that I thought was fantastic that you said on Mike's podcast it says if you don't like drivers or respect drivers, you shouldn't be working in this industry. So I thought that that was such a great place to start this conversation off because it's a mic drop moment. But we're going to pick the mic back up and continue the conversation because I would love to know where your appreciation for customer service really got started.

Meghann Erhart: 1:54

Yeah, I mean, I think it's the essence, right, like I could take the entire hour and talk about this. The thing about customer service is it's not about being nice. I think a lot of people do that, right, like they think it's just about being nice. But you can be nice and be exceptionally fake. It's really about kindness and it's being kind to other people and understanding their situation and being respectful of their situation. I really laid it back to how I was raised and understanding that people are going through different things at different points in time and giving a little bit of we'll call it grace understanding and not necessarily putting yourself in somebody else's shoes. It's not really the golden rule Don't treat me how I want to be treated. They always say that the golden rule treats someone as you want to be treated. It's really I need to treat you like how you want to be treated, which is a lot of people call that the platinum rule. In various parts in my career I've had customer service. I had a large organization that pilot, and then at Relay it's all-encompassing the entire company is around customer service. We built a foundation on it 24-7, 365, us-based. We pick up the phone in 18 seconds. But then the people that pick up the phone are kind. They understand that you don't call a customer service line if you're happy. I did it today. Oh man, I had to call. I won't tell you who I had to call. I had to call someone today and she just was going on a script not her fault where she was taught, but that wasn't at all the question I was asking. She wasn't listening to the question. Finally, I was like I don't have enough time to keep explaining four times my problem. I wasn't calling because it was pleasant to call. I don't call to say hey, it's Wednesday, how's your day going? I think it really comes down to being kind, being understanding, being quick and understanding. Especially in this industry, time is money. If the wheels aren't rolling, you're not making any money. As long as the truck is loaded, being able to really put yourself in people's shoes and help them through difficult times At Relay. I love how we do it. Everyone is trained on customer service. Everyone understands that. Whether it's a merchant, a broker, a carrier, a driver, a dispatcher whoever calls you and needs help, you help. We do it very, very quickly. The goal is that they don't have to call in. Our technology handles a lot of that. We build a lot of things into our product to be able to circumvent that. We've built our product in a way that if you use one of our products, you're going to have a very similar experience throughout, so you can reduce driver anxiety. That's really where it comes from. Sorry, I can get on a soapbox about this.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:08

Please do, because I had some customer service related questions to ask later on during this interview, but I'd like to just jump into them now, if that's all right with you Eighteen seconds. You said the average time for a customer service rep to pick up the phone call at Relay. Is that accurate? Did I quote that? Yeah?

Meghann Erhart: 5:28

Yeah, you can test it. I test it all the time. The team is great and they're really trained well. Whether you get Trio or Dually and I can name drop all of them, but I won't they're trained to understand it. But they also make sure that they can get a hold of people to help them. Now, at two o'clock in the morning, they're going to do everything they possibly can, but then we make sure that we come in the next day and we call those drivers if they've had a problem. We make sure that they've had a good experience, but it's not just when they have a problem. We onboard a customer with fuel payments, which I'm sure we'll get to, but when we do that, we understand that the carriers are customer, but if a driver doesn't like it, it's not going to work. The drivers run this business as they should, literally and figuratively. The way that we look at it is we call the driver. How is your first transaction? Do you have any questions? What was that experience like? We don't put it on our customers to roll it out to their drivers. If they allow us, we do it so we can answer the questions real time. They have someone that they can trust and talk to and we make sure that when they do a transaction it goes well, because the other thing is selfishly. If it didn't go well, we want to fix it. We need to know as fast as possible so we can go back to our engineering department or product department and say, hey, there was a problem last night, can you fix this?

Blythe Brumleve: 7:00

Where do you think most companies get it wrong when it comes to customer service? It feels like it's one of those industries that is, yes, it costs a lot of money, it takes a lot of time investment, and so for a lot of it, especially bigger corporations, they just offshore it to somewhere else where it's cheaper for them to operate. I don't want to say if that's right or wrong, but where do you think that most companies get it wrong when it comes to how they approach customer service?

Meghann Erhart: 7:32

In this industry specifically. I think that if they're not hiring, like you said at the very beginning, if you don't like drivers, you shouldn't be in the industry. I think if you're not interviewing for that, I ask a question, I'll probably give myself away for any future interviews. Every interview I do, it doesn't matter for what position, it doesn't matter if I am interviewing for a job, like when I was coming to relay. What's your impression of the American truck driver? It tells you so much. A simple question in an interview to see if they really can respect the industry that they're getting ready to serve, that they're getting ready to spend 40 hours a week plus with. By doing that you get a sense of are they respectful of the industry? Are they going to be able to provide good customer service to your customers? Do you want them on your team to help move this industry forward? Whether you're a broker, a carrier, a shipper, anything like that, it's really just critically important to be able to do it. I think number one where you can go wrong is if you don't interview for it. I think number two is we're very proud of our numbers. I knew the 18 seconds. We get our team to get off the phone as fast as possible. The reason for that is because we understand they're there because they have a problem and they're probably sitting on a dock or sitting at a fuel island. They need to get moving. We also have situations where a driver will call in and wants to tell us something. We listen. We're not pushing to get that driver off the phone. We're going to have a conversation. We're going to be kind to them and make sure we end every conversation with stay safe. I talk to drivers all the time. I'm not in customer service, but I talk to drivers and the last thing I say is please just be safe for them, for their families, for other people on the road.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:39

It kind of sounds like the root of it is caring, Putting the care back in customer service. Is that a safe assumption?

Meghann Erhart: 9:47

I think so Making sure that it's not a check the box training. Make sure they actually know how to solve people's problems. Empower them to solve the problems. Empower them to make decisions. Knowledge is always the key to that.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:08

What does that look like? I guess in that same interview with Mike you mentioned that you lead a lot of customer service training seminars within the company. What does that look like at a practical level? Is it just deep listening, I imagine a knowledge base of the product and solutions? Is there any intangibles outside of that?

Meghann Erhart: 10:35

We do a lot. One, continuous learning. Our team is amazing at planning continuous learning, holding us accountable for continuous learning. We brought the whole sales team into Atlanta last week and we did a sales kickoff for 2024. It was level setting everyone. Where is everyone? Where are we going with our product? How are you selling? Overcoming objections, has anything changed? We're asking the questions. Everyone hears it at the same time. I think the other side of it is just really focusing on what I'm not going to say our purposes, our mission. You can use all of those types of things, but really making sure everybody understands that and then training to it. And my favorite thing that we do I've done it in the past life as well and been a part of it in the past life is Trucking 101. And that's making sure people understand that, the words that are going to be said to them, they actually understand what it means.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:42

What are some of those words I got to know?

Meghann Erhart: 11:47

We do all kinds of crazy ones, like there's four court and back of house from a fueling perspective, right. So a tractor trailer can't go to the four court. That's where the four wheelers go. It's not the four ATV four wheelers, it's you and me in our car when we need to get gas. And so we train those types of things because if you can use the words properly and you understand what they mean, you can create a connection with someone, even when it's on the phone. So Trucking 101 is a great one. We train the interstates, right. The interstate system. It's so nerdy Blythe, it's so nerdy, but I'm learning All right.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:33

Now we're starting to get into the good stuff. Tell us about the interstate system.

Meghann Erhart: 12:37

Yeah, so we talk about the interstate system Like what are the numbers that run east to west? What are the ones that run north to south? How do they actually work? And the reason that we do that is like, hey, if you're on the phone and someone says they're on I-5, you need to realize that they're probably in California, and that way you can communicate with them and understand it and ask them where they're traveling to or where they're traveling from. And so we train the interstate system.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:06

That's awesome. I love that because I've seen those graphics of learning the interstate system. But I didn't think that it makes a lot of sense of why you would actually teach that within the company. I just never thought that it was actually being done by anybody within the industry. I thought it was just one of those, like you know, you just kind of got to learn by listening and then secretly ask somebody that's not going to make fun of you. That was my training, expertise or introduction into trucking.

Meghann Erhart: 13:35

Yeah, so we train it up front and then we ask about it and you know it's up again. It's the connection, it's the personal, but I've done it in the past life. I remember sitting through the interstate system the first time when I was in a training and I was like, oh, I never knew that, like I have no idea. Wait, you mean the numbers, like I-40 pretty much means like halfway through the country, and then it keeps going up. Okay, I didn't know that, but you learn it pretty fast. And then in this industry it gives you respect right To be able to understand how that runs and to be able to apply it and that's just really fun. So those are the kinds of trucking 101s that we do.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:22

Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the freight agent trenches, sponsored by SPI logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, who helps their agents with back office operations such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. And what better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI? Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit SPI 3PLcom. Are you a broker, ready to level up your business? Well, I've got a game changer of a solution for you because, let's face it, your TMS choice can make or break your company, and that's where having the right ally becomes key to success. Meet Tie Software, an all-in-one platform with user-friendly automation that makes your day-to-day operations smoother and smarter. Whether you're running a big brokerage or a startup, tie's got your back through every phase of your domestic freight Gear up because your logistics journey is about to get a serious upgrade. Experience it now by heading over to tie-softwarecom for a demo Well, speaking of the respect factor and earning your stripes. We mentioned earlier that you got your start at Pilot and you had several roles. You spent 15 years there. You had eight different roles, I believe. Can you kind of break down what each of your positions were and how it kind of evolved for you, like where did you start and then where did you end up?

Meghann Erhart: 16:14

Yeah, I started in project management in IT and it was fun. Pilot was way smaller back then. I got in a lucky situation Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good and I had friends that had worked there and I had a very dear friend that worked there at the time still does and on and off. I talked to Pilot and I got a call that my company I was with wanted me to move and I just wasn't in a personal position to be able to do that and I called him up. It was a Monday morning and I said, hey, timing's right for me if it's right for you, and he just starts belly laughing and I'm like, okay, nice that you think that's funny, but like I'm not joking. And he said, no, our project manager quit this morning and the software that this project manager was working on was one that my company that I worked with at the time had just spun off into another company, and so I knew it and so it was just like perfect timing. So I joined very quickly, got into different projects from financial systems to work workforce management systems to scheduling systems, all different kinds of things and then the merger with fine Jay happened in 2009. We got a notification in December that we couldn't really have any more conversations, and so I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out how we were going to buy fuel on minute one of the of the merger. And so they're like hey, just while we wait, just go spend some time on there because I've given all my other projects away. So I walked into what you can only call a bullpen with 12 guys and I was like I'm here to help and you know, they showed me a lot. They taught me a lot. They were rough on me, I was rough on them, but I learned transportation through sitting in that room and going all over the country and jumping on trucks and asking questions and they they weren't like I'm being a dumb girl question. They were truly like I don't know and I'm not too proud to ask like what do you mean by that? Tell me what is broken, what is frustrating, like how can I help when I can't drive a truck? And we went through that. I then was asked to run that bullpen after the merger, actually went through and was really proud, worked with the team there, built systems, built processes, grew it up. Some of my still very dear friends are in that department. Saw them about two weeks ago and it was just great and really got to experience that, spent a lot of time, then got pulled into sales because I understood the industry, understood trucking and that was great and did various roles within sales, sort of grew through that different aspects of that, then got pulled back into it to do various things, really bringing business back to it, focusing in on QA focusing. I had guest services for about a year, year and a half, and then, in a very funny conversation, sort of the wheel started turning with relay. It was the right time for me, it was the right time for them and I came over just over two years ago and really, really proud of what we're accomplishing here at relay and also really proud of what I accomplished at Pilot. It was just the right timing and the right opportunity.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:15

Yeah, because I think you had said during that conversation that you were you held on to the last paper dispatch that that pilot ever had, and so I think it's interesting that you have the last. You were involved in the last paper dispatch and helping to build these systems and automations to bring technology into this company, and then now you're part of a digital payments platform which doesn't use any kind of like sort of paper I mean, imagine some paper, of course, with any business but it's all digital. So it's kind of like the evolution of your entire career, I guess, is maybe like a safe assumption.

Meghann Erhart: 20:53

Yeah, I never thought of it that way. I think everybody should have a. I don't know if you call it a win file or a positive vibe file or whatever you want to call it, but it's right there, it's in my little, my real little rolly drawer and that's one I'm really proud. For what, not what I did do it by myself, it was it was the team that built it from a technology standpoint. We built a TMS system from scratch and it was hard. Oh yeah, it was hard. And for fuel, we were at that point in time that I'm sure they're way faster now, but we were dropping a load of fuel every 28 seconds. Oh wow, and we were doing it on paper Like it was wild, and so to take it to a digital. They have now built that program to be so much more than what it was back in 2012, 2011. They've done an amazing job with it, but I keep that because it's a good reminder, like you said, of things do evolve and things do get better, but you do have to persevere through it and recognize that they can, and I'd never thought of it the way that you did but you're right, it's sort of gone, not full circle, but really just an expansion of now. everything that I'm involved in is digital and we're putting it on the phone and we do a lot with APIs. We focus in just to make it exceptionally easy on our customers and that's how we focus our time.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:32

Another aspect because I keep going back to this interview, because it was just such a fun conversation to listen to is that you and you have briefly mentioned this before, but you've actually been inside of the trucks, you've gone on rides with drivers. Like you've done the job, as I think you said it, as you've done everything you're legally allowed to do in a truck. You've done it.

Meghann Erhart: 22:53

That's right, everything I'm legally allowed to do, and in various aspects of the country and in different ways. So for a time period I was really actively involved with the. There was an oil field services division and I was in every major oil field in North America at every week. So I'd leave out Thursday morning at 7am, I'd get home Thursday night about 7pm and I was in all across and I would go into market and I'd jump on a truck Like I wouldn't sit in the office. Probably three times a month I was out on a truck and one some month I was in the office. But I was out there trying to figure out how do we make it more efficient, what does it look like, how do we take it off pencil and paper and be able to make it work better. And you learn a lot, right windshield time. You learn so much from windshield time and being out there and seeing it and feeling it and understanding the bitter cold of North Dakota compared to the sweltering heat of South Texas and that those drivers need different things at different times, like the systems might work for them, but as people, as drivers, as team members, they needed different things. And that's fun. And you get out there and you do things and everything. I'd never drove a truck that I was not going to put any liability on anybody, including myself. I did think about getting my CDL at one point in time, but instead I went and got my MBA, which it seems crazy, but where I was in my career right then it was like I need more education. Which education route am I going to go down? And so I chose the MBA route. I did it while I was working as well, but it does allow you. When you spend time in trucks, or you spend time on a dispatch, or you spend time in a brokerage or you spend time in a maintenance facility, you learn a lot more. You absorb so much that you can pull on maybe three months later. But you get a better sense when your boot's on the ground literally, not figuratively, literally Steel-toed boots on the ground trying to figure it out, and that's why I'm also a firm believer. You got to go out and you got to meet your customers. You got to spend time, you got to have the conversations. Zoom makes it a lot very helpful, but I still love walking into a trucking company and being able to see the dispatchers and the accountants and the mechanics. I love to walk through a shop because the mechanics will tell you just like drivers will everything that you need to fix, whether you can or not, they're going to tell you, and I love that aspect of it because in this industry, most people 99.9% are just wanting to get things better and they have very positive intent, and so I like to listen to that.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:13

Yeah, I think that with your conversation with Mike and hearing like the greater sort of understanding of how you approach customer service. We were all recently at Freight Waves F3 event and it was the first Freight Waves event that they had invited a bunch of drivers to go to, and he was talking about the situation where you have a lot of companies that are selling solutions and services and tools that are supposed to benefit the driver, but they've never actually talked to them, They've never actually worked with them, and I think that's why he took a liking to you is because you've done that hard work, you've gone and worked with drivers and you know what their day to day looks like. I think it should almost be like a requirement for a lot of these companies to spend a day with a driver in order to fully understand what their role is, and maybe a day probably doesn't even sound like it's enough. It sounds like it needs to be weeks and in different seasons, because you just said what a driver needs and was it South Dakota is different than South Texas. I'm actually curious what are those differences? Is it equipment or what I think about it? A lot of equipment.

Meghann Erhart: 27:29

Yeah, like coats, or yeah, think about it, it was petroleum, like fuel delivery drivers right, so they have to wear FR. So the flame retardant, I have mine, the smallest of the small. I still had to roll like eight times. I'm short, like it's just what it's going to happen. But that in North Dakota is not enough, right, like if it's North Dakota and it's negative, 20 steel towed boots. You need the steel towed boots, but you got to get warm and you got to figure out how to get warmth and you can't get stranded out there. So you've got to make sure you've got snacks and waters and blankets and all of those I mean you don't you and I don't think about that right, but we had to make sure that our drivers were safe. On the flip side, in South Texas, we're in FR in the middle of summer, in August, sweltering. How do you make sure that they have water? How do you make sure that they're getting their brakes, Like all of those types of things are just if you're not there, you take it for granted. You might read it on a survey, but you don't have the physical remembrance of man, I was cold or, oh my gosh, I could not stop sweating. So that's the type of thing that I think really helps. Going back to the training we have done, we bring our entire company together two or three times a year and we call them roundups, and we bring everybody into Atlanta. Last year we took everybody to Matts, which was really fun, but we take everybody to Atlanta and we bring drivers in. We ask customers to come in and we ask drivers to come in and we'll do panels and we'll ask them questions. Our team will ask them questions about sometimes it's about our technology what we need to do to get better, Like I mentioned earlier. But sometimes it's like, hey, how do you handle this situation when you're at a shipper. What does this look like in real life? And so the F3, I wasn't able to be there because it was the same week as with women in trucking, so I was there, but I love that they did that. I heard a lot of great things about that. Craig's fantastic. He's really forward thinking in that and I'm glad that he brought the drivers and everybody could listen to it, because there's also a sense when they're in front of you and you're talking to them and you're listening, it's not like, oh, I have to go solve that problem because I work for that company. It's having different companies there and represented you can sort of listen to it with a different set of classes. On.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:15

Yeah, for sure. And now that that brings me to your time at Relay. What was that catalyst that made you want to join? You mentioned that it was great time, but I imagine maybe the role, or different responsibilities, new challenges I imagine all of that played a role as well.

Meghann Erhart: 30:31

Yeah, I love to build things and I'd spent a ton of time at Pilot doing that and could have stayed to do that. And they're doing wonderful things, like I said, dear friends that work there today, dear friends that have gone on to do other great things. But I was at a time where Relay, just I had a conversation with our president, spencer Barkoff. They had a role open. I threw my resume in there and he was like you are not that role, but are you serious? And I said it depends Right, like what's the scope of the job? Is your technology really as good as you say it is? What do drivers say? And I went through the process and Spencer does an amazing job of interviewing and he was like what would make you say no? And he just kept asking me that and I said I don't know what the culture is. And it was. He goes well, how do I give you that? And I said I'll sign an NDA, but I want to sit in a meeting. And so he allowed me to sit in a meeting. I was off video so no one knew I was. They sort of kept me away and I got to feel it and I said I'm going to, I want to walk the office and he was like this was sort of just after COVID, so there weren't that many people in the office at the time. And he goes why? And I said I can, I can read a room and I can get a sense by just being present. So just let me come walk the office. And I did that. I'm like, okay, culture check, they're focused on the right things, the technology is as good as I thought it was. And he's saying we've got a customer base and it's fun. There's a lot of building to do. Relationships do matter, and being able to really be a part of something from not quite the ground up, but at least from the fuel product by ground up, has just been a really great experience for me to see it. I've worked at, you know, the biggest of the big companies and now a very well funded. I don't even know if we call it a startup. We've been at business five years now. That was last week. I was in town to celebrate it but it does give me a wide breadth of being able to see it and being able to talk about how we scale and what that looks like.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:08

And with Relay, what are the differentiating factors from, say, other you know payment solutions that exist within the market? I think I had heard that you were accepted at 42 locations and now it's like 1500 or something like that.

Meghann Erhart: 33:26

Yeah, so that was probably I think it was 42 at the start of Q4 of 22. And we're now at over 1500 locations. So big names out there. We've got Pilot, which has been really fun to work with that team, and they have. They continue to be amazing. We've got Maverick, which is awesome. That just got announced two weeks ago. We're live at all their locations. We'll also be going to the come and go locations as they flip that technology out, so that'll be fun All of the yes Way locations. And then we've got SAP, we've got Rodeys, we've got Road Ranger, we've got Ambest, we've got Mom and Pops across the country, and so we've been able to grow really fast. So we have the network, the fueling network. What makes us different from a classic way to pay for fuel is that it is all digital. You hit on it earlier and because it's all digital and there's no chance of any skimming, we're fraud free and I can stand behind it. We have been full throttle since mid June of 2023. We were in stealth mode for a while before that. We sort of came out full force in last June and I'll knock on every piece of wood I got, but we have not had a single fraudulent transaction, not one. And then an industry right now that is just reeling from fraud, absolutely reeling, super proud of our product team, super proud of, you know, our project managers that have thought through every scenario and we haven't had a single fraudulent transaction. And so that is the number one. The number two is that we move really fast because we don't have any technical debt. So we have been in business for five years and we've built everything from ground up. We've got customers. We started in the lumpers space, we've built these products where the drivers are already exceptionally comfortable with us. But we can move incredibly fast because we don't have 30 years of technical debt behind us that we've got to go wade through and then the customer service picking up in 18 seconds. That's the thing. Right, we will answer the phone, we will have a solution and we're very transparent about our fees. So they also know we're not going to charge them to answer their question.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:08

And so, for folks who may not be aware, I worked at an asset-based freight brokerage and we had fuel cards. How do you use the digital payment platform? Is it kind of like the Apple Tap Pay? How does that process work?

Meghann Erhart: 36:24

Yeah. So we've got an app. You can look it up Relay Payments on the app stores and you go in and you set it up. So let's say you have life transport and you want Relay to pay for your fuel. You would send a message to your driver to download the app. They would be able to log in. You can choose if you want them to see your discount or not in all the locations that you have turned on. So it's location selected, so you can choose. Yes, I want this brand, no, I don't want this. I don't want anybody to pick up inside this city. You can do that as well, and so we built it for extreme flexibility. That's done by the carrier. The driver goes on location, they break a geofence where we're accepted and they have to put in prompts, so information that you've done before at an asset-based carrier, and they put in those prompts and when they do, they're given a code. They put that into the pump or they go inside to give it to the cashier and it turns on and then all the limits apply. And so we built it to where it's super strong from that aspect. But so many of the customers are already using us. The drivers are already using us for lumpers, and we use this same philosophy on. You can't get cash, you can't use it twice. Here's the process. And cash with fuel, unless they're allowed to. But lumpers they don't, and the receipts automatically go into the system and can be automatically emailed. And so through that process, you also take out the issues with accounting. You take out problems with finance. We very strongly believe that finance and accounting should be in the room and helps set the success criteria for us to move forward, because if they're not happy, it's just not going to work. It's like if the driver doesn't like us, it's not going to work. So we work hand in hand with them to make sure that they have a great experience, and then that's how it really works.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:35

What was happening, I guess, for other providers that may still be relying on those physical cards. That's where I would imagine a lot of the fraud is happening.

Meghann Erhart: 38:46

Yeah, I've told this story before, so if it's a repeat, I apologize. My daughter is 17. And one of our daughters is 17. She lives and dies by apple bay. I live and die by apple bay. I love it.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:03

Right, like I was so convenient.

Meghann Erhart: 39:05

I went the other day. I didn't have a credit card. I went to Kroger, I went to a grocery store and I couldn't use tap to pay and I was like, oh no, I don't know if I have a credit card with me. Luckily I did, but I couldn't use it. So think about that all the time you're using tap to pay. My daughter always uses it. She went to a gas station. She was headed to a football game. This was back in the fall. She was headed to a football game with her friends, needed to get gas, couldn't do tap to pay at the pump, put her card in. Two days later she was in San Antonio. So I get an alert on my phone that says transaction at such and such in San Antonio, Texas, and I'm like no, I've got to cancel it. All the credit cards have to get closed down. They've got to reissue new plastic. We live at home, right, and it takes five days to get our card. We're not on the road, we're not gone 17 days, like a driver is. And it was frustrating for her because she was like what am I going to do? And I'm like cash, you're going to do cash. She's like what's that? But think about it from a driver perspective. Right, take that, you know, a pain in the rear for us as a family. But a 50 truck fleet that has an issue with some of the cards. They might not have even had fraud, they might have just gotten turned off. But let's say that they rarely use the card, but they have to dip that card one time and then it takes them 17 days to get back. The fleet can't get their discounts during that time, right, so they're out the money they're trying to figure out. Pay them with different checks option. We had one of our customers that went from like five drivers to 65 in a day, had to drive to his driver because the driver's card got cut off oh my gosh, for fraud and had to pay for it with his own credit card. And then he called us and he was like I'm done, let's go. And so we onboarded all of his drivers. And so it's those types of things where we don't think about the inefficiencies or the loss discounts, the lost money savings by having them turned off or losing them. We always talk about the fraud that actually happens on the transaction, not all of the money lost or extra cost because of time to do the time Exactly.

Blythe Brumleve: 41:47

So as you're talking, I'm thinking, I'm like why would any reasonable carrier, trucking company or even merchants, why would they even allow a lot of the swipe pay anymore? It just feels like it's more trouble than it's worth.

Meghann Erhart: 42:04

Well, they should all come to relay payments.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:07

I mean, there's a heck of a sales pitch. Honestly, I feel like it sells itself.

Meghann Erhart: 42:12

Yeah, there's all different kinds of reasons. It is hard for people to change. Inherently, as humans, it is hard for us to change. And so what you're used to if you don't realize, hey, this isn't a normal card provisioning. You're not going to have to. We've got integrations in every big TMS. Those are already built so we can go into your integrations and make that seamless. Okay, check, that's done. You're not going to have to hand out cards physically to every driver. You're not going to have to open up your desk drawer, get that rubber band out. That you've got all those extra cards in, pull it out, go into a portal and re-put that in. You don't have to do that anymore. And then you don't have to train your driver because we're going to train your driver. And so when we walk through, what are the true reasons why people don't want to do it? If we can get to the point where we understand it, we can work through it Because, to your point, there's fraud. But then we take the heavy lift. I tell merchants this, I tell carriers this we have to earn the business. We realize that we will put our best foot forward. We will put the time, the energy and the money into it. We recognize we have to earn the business and because of that we will do all of the heavy lifting.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:41

What does the onboarding timeline look like? So say, using your carrier example, where you had to go to the pump and pay out of his own card and he was ready to just that sounds like a perfect catalyst for a new customer. But then, once he decides, yes, let's move forward, what does the timeline look like? What does do they have to provide? I imagine paperwork, some contracts, I'm assuming too. What does that process look like in timeline wise?

Meghann Erhart: 44:11

So for him, it was really easy because he was already starting to onboard and so we had everything we needed. So we actually got him on boarded in about less than a day. Less than eight hours. We had all of his drivers signed up, which was great, yeah, big win. The other side of it if we have someone that is starting from scratch calls us up so Cold, dark, stranger to us, not already with relay in any way, shape or form, and calls us up and says hey, we heard you on Vice show and we really want to sign up, okay, that's great, we can get our paperwork over same day. We can usually get signatures back same day and then, depending on what merchants they already have discounts with, they may want their own discount applied. That can take a few days, or they may choose to use the discounts that we've negotiated. We had one customer this is an anomaly, but it really is a true story to what you're saying, a true testament to what you're saying and they got hit with fraud and we had not started onboarding. They had signed the paperwork, but we had not worked through getting their discounts yet, we had not yet done any onboarding with any drivers, we hadn't met with accounting, we hadn't done any of that and they got hit for I think it was $8,000 in fraud and one night and he called in and he was like I don't care, I don't need my discounts, it's not going to be what the 8,000 was and he goes in the time it'll take to get my discounts. I'm okay with that because I can't stand anymore fraud. And so we onboarded him. His discounts came like 48 hours later.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:07

He was fine.

Meghann Erhart: 46:09

But it was the mentality of okay, what is it worth to me and for this particular customer and that's one story of many it was, get me on a platform where I don't have to worry about fraud and then I'll get everything else figured out. And we were able to work with him to do that and work with our partners, work with our merchant partners, to speed things up, to make sure that we could get things rolling for him really quickly.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:36

And I imagine that probably feels so good on his behalf to have one less really big thing to worry about. I would imagine that getting hit how many businesses out there can survive in an $8,000 hit and still be able to operate the next day and pay your employees? It would be a very challenging thing for a lot of small business owners out there, I imagine.

Meghann Erhart: 47:00

Especially right now, right Rates are still low. I mean, you're living it every day, you see it every day, hear it every day. A thousand dollars can especially like. Think about right now all the permits are due, all the insurance do, everything's due in January. A thousand dollars right now to some of these fleets could shut them down and it takes time to go through the process to get that money back and so to jump to something that is fraud free. And then again, we did the heavy lift. He didn't have to call a driver. We did all of that for him. It really it is something that sells itself, um, but we also have great customers that do testimonials for us. We have great customers that refer people to us. Um, this is a great industry to where people help people, and we're very lucky that a lot of our customers have been willing to do that.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:55

Yeah, because I think you had also said on on the the lumbar podcast that A lot of your business, or the majority of your business, comes in through referrals. So that's I mean, that's great marketing right there.

Meghann Erhart: 48:05

Yeah it is and it, those are always fun, right of. Hey, I heard about you from Bob well, I won't use the name. I heard about you from Bob. Is this for real? I'm like, well, bob told you that it's for real, um, so you can have some fun with it, but it it isn't relationship business. Trucking, transportation, logistics is a relationship business. Um, there are times where we we'll joke with people because you go to the conferences like you're talking about and people move right, they go to different companies. But somehow, when, when trucking gets in your blood, like you're done right, like you're either in it or you're not, and I took somebody with me to a conference from relay that is new or at the time was new, and it was like deer in a headlights, like wow, all these people, how do you know all these people? Why do you like you're trying to figure it out, and I'm like, well, again, once you get in, you can't get out. But also it's a little incestuous. We do go to different companies but we work really really well together and like I'm gonna hug my competitors because you know, two years ago they weren't my competitors. So it's a fun industry to be a part of. Relationships matter. The referrals are fantastic because of it, um, and and when you realize who you can trust in this industry, which is most people, um, you can really build out some, some fun, fun times and fun conferences and just have a great time in the industry while you're, while you're working, while you're making money. We all want to make money, right? I'm unabashedly a capitalist, so I like to make money for my company. I like to make money for my family, um, so I don't think that that's a dirty word.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:53

No, not at all. I in fact I heard it mentioned one time the the benefits of being a compassionate capitalist and I said, yeah, that sounds good to me, I like that. Well, well, speaking of conferences, you mentioned, uh, women in trucking earlier. Obviously, you know woman in the industry. You've been in the industry for for quite a long time, um, working with, uh, you know, I would imagine, predominantly male teams. Um, it feels like the industry is is shifting a bit, especially over the last few years. It does feel like more women are getting not only into transportation and logistics, but they're getting to some of those senior level roles. Um, what are some of the evolutions? I think that that you've dealt with over your career as, as you would offer advice maybe to other women within the industry.

Meghann Erhart: 50:43

Yeah, well it it is. It has changed, um, it's still definitely a male delaminated industry. What this industry allows you to do, though, is this industry regardless of male or female, um, any race, any nationality Is that they respect people who are smart, work hard, um, and do what they say they're going to do, and you can call that relationships, but it's a little bit more intricate than that. Right, and being able to walk into a trucking company, whoever you are, and being able to have a conversation, not only about what's going on in the industry, not only about what's going on in the world or with commodities or freight rates, or you know, you name it, but being able to also show that you understand the industry of equipment, being able to walk onto a shop floor and have a conversation with a mechanic, whether you're in four inch heels or not, and those are the types of things where I think it's a little bit differently. It it is Get your feet dirty, it is get your hands dirty, it is being out there, but you know, I've jumped onto trucks and four inch heels and slacks, and I wasn't afraid to do it. I wasn't afraid to go have those conversations, I wasn't afraid to go out and get in the rain to help a guy when he was struggling with a pump. Those are the types of things that it doesn't matter if I'm male or female, and this, this industry, respects that, and so, while it has changed, that has not changed. Most of the time I've been the only woman in the room, 98%, probably, of my career, but that was when I worked for hardware software company too. So the I have two girls. My husband and I have two girls and we make sure that they understand that they they have to put in the time, they have to put in the work, they have to Not be too proud to ask questions. I I feel okay using his name, but Craig Harper he he recently retired from JB Hunt and Craig was one of the first people in the industry that I actually had a conversation with and asked for help, and I got lucky. I got exceptionally lucky that I had exposure to him. But I asked for help and he was like my and he was like Meghann. I'm going to give you my cell phone number anytime you have a question. You call me. Steve Graham was at. Schneider Did the exact same thing for me. I used to call Steve Graham and be like how do I get my MPG down? And Steve would walk me through it and like, try this, Meghann, try that. And I had an opportunity. It doesn't matter that they were men in this industry. It was how they were as people and how I was willing to go ask for help and not be too, too proud not to, and I think that that's what this industry really appreciates. Um, I've had mentors male, I've had mentors female. I've had hard conversations with men, I've had hard conversations with women, but really, what I think it comes down to is Creating those relationships through respect, um, and then following through on what you do. There are there are people in this industry I will not name names who I have gone toe to toe with for hours in meetings, walked out, gone and gotten a cocktail Chuckled. We're still friends today, but it is understanding that you do your best for the company that you work for and we always followed through with what we did, and this industry will weed that out pretty fast if you don't.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:00

I don't even know what to ask to follow that up with, because that was just such a great Like. I even wrote down off to the side like yeah, that's going to be a really great social media clip. I was just going to let you cook because you were, you were doing a good job. Well, great, I mean, Meghann, I mean I'm really like I'm speechless right now. I, I, I, maybe I have a few more questions, I don't know, but that's uh, that is such a great, I think, point to end, uh, because it really just shines. I think it just shines a light on the industry itself that if you can Swallow the pride, ask the questions, don't feel like you're you're asking a dumb question, because there is no, there is no such thing as a dumb question. Stay curious and then continue to work hard. I, I think, is just such a valuable piece of advice, you know, for a variety of industries, not just ours, but I think ours. It respects you get a little bit more respect if you are willing to put in the hard work. Yeah, I agree, I agree. Well, Meghann is, is there anything else? Um, that you feel is important, that that we should have talked about, that we didn't already talk about?

Meghann Erhart: 56:06

No, I. I think that this has been great. I appreciate you having me on Um. I love getting to to know you and it's been a time with you. Maybe we'll get to do it again, but I really appreciate it and um appreciate what you do in the industry, appreciate how you put yourself forward and um ask, ask hard questions and and bring people onto your show that Um allow different viewpoints to be heard. So you're doing a wonderful job. Keep it up and please let me know how I can help you.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:36

Oh, I appreciate it. The the check is in the mail, just by the way, um just for for those lovely, nice things that you said.

Meghann Erhart: 56:42

You're the one capitalist oh yes, digital payments, not.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:45

No check, no paper trail over here. Well, Meghann, where can folks follow you? Uh, follow more of your work, you know. Sign up for relay payments, you know all that good stuff.

Meghann Erhart: 56:55

Yeah, I'm on linkedin, like like everyone else in the industry. Um, I can go to relaypaymentscom and if you want to trial out our, our 18 second, I'll make sure I tell uh, david Ragsdale to stay on top of it. He runs our customer service department. Um, that number is 8777352910.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:17

Oh heck, yes, I can't. I can't wait for people to test it out and hopefully you know it'll be right at that 18 seconds or maybe a little. Even better than that. Um, it's because I I have no doubt that that you guys are putting out, you know, a great product and a great solution, especially if you're focusing on the customer. So this was an amazing conversation. Thank you, Meghann Um, and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully we can do it again in the future. Sounds great. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed this episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everything is logisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate and that's digital dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at digital dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in All of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus freight, marketing and sales content Similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on digitaldispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.