Since joining the Onward team as operations manager, Janelle Cox has made a lasting mark on our clients, our partners and our organization. Her operations expertise streamlines Onward’s customer experience and her commitment to continuous learning inspires our team to always go onward and upward. We recently sat down with Janelle to discuss her background, her role at Onward and what she sees for the year ahead.
We know you’re busy helping Onward clients; thanks for fitting in this interview. We’d love for you to share a little about your professional experience and how you leverage it at Onward.
Janelle: I started my career at Bob Moore Auto Group. Over several years with Bob Moore, I really expanded my skills and worked my way up. I supported multiple senior executives, which was my favorite part of everything I did there. I also worked on benefits and oversaw the implementation of our new HRIS system, which was a really complex project that was important to the organization.
In the automotive group, you had to be flexible. Our leadership team there moved quickly; they jumped on it when they got a task and made sure to see it through. In this environment, I became a quick learner. It was my priority to make sure everything got done efficiently. At Onward, we’re growing so fast and it’s really exciting. But you have to be a quick learner to continue that growth. There are many moving parts in fleet management, and I’m excited to step up to the challenge of managing our operations. We’re all about efficiency.
Can you walk us through your day-to-day at Onward? What are some of your most important responsibilities?
Janelle: It might not sound glamorous, but we really pride ourselves on being data-driven for our clients. I think one of the most important things I do each morning is going into our asset management system and looking at the data: things like fuel card transactions and meters, and total costs associated with certain vehicles if they’ve been in service a lot. We’re constantly analyzing data and making sure we’re staying on top of things for our clients. That’s one of the reasons they’ve hired us: to be another set of eyes into their fleet operations.
I also love when we get to meet with our clients. Even if it’s brief, it’s a great feeling to let them know we’re working on projections and say, “Hey, this is what we’ve pulled so far.” We’re helping them plan for the future; 2021 planning is exciting.
You mentioned reviewing data in the asset management system, looking for any outliers and opportunities for optimization. What is the next step if you do see something in the data that requires action?
Janelle: I usually bring it to our founder first to make sure he agrees with what I’m seeing in the data. A second set of eyes is really important. Then, if we’re in agreement on the opportunity presented in the analytics, we immediately have a conversation with our client, whether it’s a phone call or an email that tells them there’s something to be mindful of. If it’s not something serious that may be a habit, like fueling and getting super-unleaded instead of regular, that might be something we put on a quarterly business review to discuss, because we’re always trying to help our clients find efficiencies.
Going back to your previous question, I wanted to mention one more big component of my job. Community involvement is just really important. It’s one of the things I love the most, and our founder is very much community focused. I’m very excited this week because we were able to adopt a couple of foster kids. My day today will consist of later taking all the presents we were able to buy for these kiddos for Christmas and dropping them off to ensure they receive them in time. One of the things I really cherish about those who believe in giving back is that they don’t just say, “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea.” They actually do it.
You volunteer with many organizations around Oklahoma City. Please share a little more about how you’re involved with the community here.
Janelle: I facilitated several sessions volunteering for the infant crisis center here in Oklahoma City. Really, anything that we can do to help children is a huge focus. Our founder, Tim, was a board chair. He still sits on the board for Make-A-Wish Oklahoma, and I was able to help do some fundraising for them. It’s great to pursue my volunteering outside of my job. But I love also being able to do that at Onward. It’s not an opportunity most people have through their job.
You’re centrally involved with project management, customer service and other functions that make sure our customers and partners feel supported. How do you foster a sense of community within the Onward family?
Janelle: That’s one of Onward’s really big strengths. We’re not here to make a buck; we really do want to make our clients’ lives easier. Sometimes it’s little things, like dropping off donuts and cookies and goodies for the holidays. We get so excited about visiting our clients. There’s also the relationship building, like when I get a text from a client’s project manager and am able to have a great conversation and even joke around with him a bit, kind of building rapport. With the shops where we send vehicles for maintenance, I’ve been able to establish relationships so that we all work together for the greater good. I think that’s something we will continue to build on. We’ll never stop making sure everyone feels like they are part of the Onward family.
That’s a really great ethos to apply, not only to partnerships, but also to customers. What should Onward customers know about the onboarding process? You’ve been central to developing that process.
Janelle: Correct. I’ve been able to streamline that process. When Onward first launched, we had a small team and did our best with every resource available to us. But as we’ve grown, I’ve prided myself on refining the onboarding process. Communication is key for us, so part of it is making sure that we’re communicating along the way in case there are any hiccups. But in general, the onboarding process with Onward is just so easy peasy. We’re able to quickly get our customers’ information into our system and make sure that the drivers are communicated with and know that there’s a new process; it’s things like that. Our process has really been streamlined over the past couple of months, and it keeps getting better for our customers.
Given that you have so many core responsibilities on your plate, how can you tell that you’re succeeding at your job? How do you measure your success?
Janelle: That’s a great question, and the answer will continue to evolve as we grow. But just talking off the cuff, I think about the other day when I got a text from a client. We were able to save the company $400 because the shop was wanting to perform a service that was really under warranty. That’s just one case where we’re able to instantly bring savings into their pockets. After that, I got a text that said something like, “Oh my gosh, the vehicle looks great. Thank you so much for helping.” Our customers’ feedback is a huge measure of success. On one of the first checks we got from a client, they wrote, “We love Onward so much. Thank you.” That was so cool, hearing that after one month they were already really happy with our services. These kinds of things might be small, but they make a big difference for me.
You’ve mentioned building relationships with Onward clients and giving back to the community. What else do you find rewarding about working with Onward?
Janelle: I love the challenge of learning something. I worked at Bob Moore for almost 10 years, and I was able to bring my automotive experience to Onward. But I also stepped outside of my comfort zone in joining a new, growing company. I believe so much in Tim, our founder, as a leader, and I saw how exciting it would be to help grow a company. I love getting to work with different clients, and I just love to help people, whatever that means. I get to translate all my experience into helping several different companies in Oklahoma. So it’s really exciting.
Aside from your volunteering, how do you like to spend your time outside of work?
Janelle: My husband and I have been together for almost 15 years, and we have a little boy who is nine now. We also have a goldendoodle named Otis. We love to go to the park. We love to watch movies. I’m kind of a homebody, and even more so with the pandemic, but we also love to be outside taking walks or bike rides, things like that.
Just one final question to wrap up our chat. What do you see for the year ahead?
Janelle: You know, I’m excited for continued growth. I know that sounds maybe a little cliché, but I’m excited to continue growing with our current clients and finding new clients we’re able to help. We also have our first sales job opening, so I know 2021 will hold another opportunity to grow our team. This year, we accomplished so much despite the ups and downs. There’s so much to be excited about in 2021.