Luxury Coach & Transportation

August 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 49 of 79

L AS VEGAS, Nev. —Sooner or lat- er, no matter how well your com- puter software system performs, it will age, get clunky, maybe a little too dated for the demands of new customers. at means every luxury transporta- tion operation has to face the inevitable: Swapping out an old system for a new one. To keep the transition from de- generating into the business version of your least favorite medical procedure, a panel of experts on March 13 delved into the mechanics of making software surgery as pleasant as possible. e session, "Software Transition: Survive and rive," was hosted by Richard Kane, CEO and owner of Inter- national Limousine Service in Wash- ington, D.C., who was joined by Jay Erlich, vice president of Europe Lim- ousine Service in Paramus, N.J., Peter Turner, owner of the Havering Carriage Company in Essex, U.K., and Rick Ver- sace, CEO and owner of A1A Airport & Limousine Service, in Boca Raton, Fla. All four have broken their companies through to new worlds of software, and lived to tell about it. For the discussion, all panelists agreed to remain neutral on industry software vendors and not name or share opinions of any. Choosing The Right Software "What are you looking for in software?" Erlich asked of the first priority in find- ing the right one. "Much of it stems from the type of business you are, such as a mostly bus company versus limo. He emphasized how software needs to do everything from A to Z: Booking, reser- vations, dispatch, communicating with clients and chauffeurs, billing and pro- cessing, and collecting data for reports. "If your software is not giving you all you want, then it's not the one for you." Turner changed over his company's software because of integration. "Ev- eryone needs to integrate with every- body else. It's one of the biggest things you will buy for your business. So you have to find the right one. I showed each department a demo of the ones I was looking at, and then got feedback from them of what they thought was best. ey are the ones who you're rely- ing on to use it properly." Learning From A Bad Mistake For A1A Limousine, the motive to change came from better connections with other companies and a well-working customer app, Versace said. He picked a system and it ended up being one of his worst decisions. "I think the first time around, I would have been involved more with the departments instead of me just saying, 'is is what I want. And we're changing'" "en I really took my time. I found out what we needed in each depart- ment, and we spent the whole year fly- ing around the country meeting differ- ent providers we worked with, allowing us to see how it worked," Versace said. "And we gained a good knowledge of how it worked and what it was before we made the decision to switch." Kane reiterated how operators should spend time talking to the em- ployees who will be using the system, and ensure they won't feel lost during the transition. "Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into and that it is generally understood for the job duties of everybody involved. You don't want the software to get too ad- vanced for what you're doing." Testing The System Out Kane recounted how he had to go "gran- ular" in learning his new software. "I went and became an off-site dispatch- er, reservations, everything for a week, that's all I did. I had to learn it. I had to know it all. So it was a really weird expe- rience for me, but it was great because it really got me into what I didn't know." When you get the new software go- ing, you have to be able to go through all the processes without the custom- er feeling you transitioned software, Erlich said. "You can't get away with botching a ride or not showing up or screwing up a billing or a reservation because your guys didn't know the software. at just doesn't fly these days. When we first switched, we were running on two sys- tems in the beginning and that was re- ally bad. e amount of manpower that went into it caused so much money on payroll just so everybody was moving things from place to place." Kane added, "You have to make sure you have all the parts in the new soft- ware including credit card, and profile, and all that information. And that's an important interview question you should be asking your software provid- er: 'Tell me about conversion.'" "If data entry has to be taken from one software system to another we're talking a long time," Erlich said. "And 4 8 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 2018 2018 INTERNATIONAL LCT SHOW: TECHNOLOGY Breaking On Through To The Other Software Here's how to ease one of the most difficult transitions your operations may ever have to make. By Martin Romjue, LCT editor ILLUSTRATION: ISTOCK.COM/ YUOAK

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