By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer
As fuel prices hover above the $4-range, some truckers without APUs are turning off their engines and exploring cheaper alternatives for their heating, cooling and electrification needs.
Nearly a year ago, Convoy Solutions LLC bought IdleAir, formerly spelled IdleAire, and has since launched an aggressive campaign to differentiate themselves from the old company.
IdleAir’s Jeff Maurer told Land Line on Monday, April 25, that his job title is chief listening officer, and his core job duty is to listen to the wants and needs of the driver community about IdleAir services.
“We want to differentiate ourselves from the old company,” Maurer said. “We want to be responsive to our customers and find out what they want from us, what we can do better and what didn’t work in the past.”
IdleAir services are currently being offered at 21 sites in nine states for $1.99 per hour for the first 10 hours of usage. After that time, the price drops to $1.25 per hour as part of the company’s new extended stay program.
Maurer said the company’s “Adapter April” promotion, which ends April 30, has been extremely successful for drivers who may want to use their services, but may not think they can afford one.
“The adapters are basically free with this promotion,” he said. “We are offering the adapters for $5, then giving them a $5 credit to use toward our services. We don’t want cost to be a barrier for anyone to try our services.”
Three winners are drawn daily from the previous day’s list of new customers who sign up for the “Adapter April” promotion. Each winner can choose a $50 credit for IdleAir services, two months of WiFi or Ethernet, or a Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Hand Vac.
Maurer said the new company is also trying to change its “parking problem image” the old company had with drivers.
In the past, he said drivers would pull into a busy truck stop, needing to take a break, but found the lots completely full except for reserved, unused IdleAire spaces. For those drivers who weren’t IdleAire customers, they were often run off from those spaces.
“We have heard from drivers that this was one of their greatest sources of frustration because of the old company’s attitude,” he said.
The new company’s policy is one that Maurer said should work better for everyone. They have reduced their lot size from around 70 spaces to approximately 30 to 40 spots. He said they have also moved their lots away from the “more choice spots” closer to the main building, which means fewer non-IdleAir customers are trying to park in the reserved spots.
“There has been a key shift in our approach, that is centered on the fact that we respect that drivers, whether they use our services or not, deserve a safe and legal place to park for the night,” Maurer said. “If the main lot is empty we will ask once and kindly if the driver not using our services would consider moving to free up a space for an IdleAir customer. But if the lot is full, we acknowledge that they deserve a parking space and we aren’t going to challenge that.”
“We have a smaller footprint that is more matched with our actual demand,” he said.
He said the new IdleAir also shares a social responsibility to the driver community and is partnering with the Truckers against Trafficking organization to end human trafficking at truck stops around the country.
“We just mailed many of their materials to our sites and we are going to be training our site staff with their training video so they can get information to other drivers about identifying suspicious activity that might look like human trafficking,” Maurer said. “Giving them the phone number and the information that they need to make the call, save a life, do the right thing. We are in an excellent position to help with those big picture issues that are out there.
The plan is to expand to 30 to 40 IdleAir sites by the end of 2011. Maurer said the new owners recognize that IdleAir is one part of an overall solution to help drivers have a better quality of life when out on the road. They are also looking at ways to support drivers who have APUs on their trucks, but may want to hook up for a “good quality electric supply to run their heavy appliances.
Copyright © OOIDA