Luxury Coach & Transportation

August 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 2018 49 just said to them, 'Please bear with us. If things go wrong, we'll get it sorted.' And nothing went wrong." Versace's A1A Limousine sent an email out two months before, then a month before, and more importantly, updated chauffeurs at monthly meet- ings. "Selling the chauffeurs is the num- ber one thing you have to do because they are the ones that really have the relationships with your client. ey're spending an hour in the car with them, and they get to know them. So get them to sell it to the customers and have them say, 'Yeah, this is a great thing. We're changing to this new software. You're going to love it.'" Kane added, "Bringing the chauffeur into the equation at this stage is so para- mount that you don't want to do all this work inside and then it gets blown up by a 6 a.m. transfer because the driver didn't know how to find special instructions to pull the car in the back of the driveway." Erlich underscored the need to in- form the admins and reps who handle large corporate accounts. "I think it's more of appeasing the admin because we do a lot of corpo- rate business," Erlich said. "e admin is booking the car. So if she's getting her confirmations, status updates, trip reminders, and everything works flaw- lessly, and she's happy, the customer will be happy." Turner took the added step of email- ing screenshots of what the new com- munications format will look like. Many of his clients were pleased his company was moving into the next century." — software connects to other compa- nies that are on the same software. I'm not as satisfied with how it connects to other companies using different softwares. And I think industry-wide, that's a huge problem. We have to fo- cus on the connectivity so it doesn't matter what you use. We should be able to trade work seamlessly. "I think that has to be the major fo- cus," he added. "So no matter what soft- ware you're looking at, no matter who your provider is, no matter if you've been on it for 10 years, I think we all have to push our providers to make in- terconnectivity the number one issue we all want." Going Live With Clients After lining up the new system inter- nally and getting everyone trained, the next step is to go live with clients. How do you communicate with clients short- ly before going live? "You're not changing software for fun," Erlich said. "You're changing soft- ware to make your team and business better. So you call all your accounts, affiliates, clients, everybody, and you tell them, 'We just got a new software system. We did it for this reason. We'll show you how to use it if you need a demo. We are adding confirmations, status updates, 24-hour trip reminders. You can use it as a sales approach be- cause you're paying for it." "What we've done, we told every cli- ent what we were doing," Turner said. "We warned them. Point out how it will be better for them by getting the driv- er's data and photos, or whatever. We that's time we don't have because we're a busy company with phones ringing off the hook and emails are coming in." Training The Right Way e next step is to organize a training schedule and appoint someone to over- see the transition and communicate ex- pectations to the software provider. "I got to delegate to different mem- bers of staff to check out different func- tions on the new software," Turner said. "Nobody likes change. Half the time they think it's going to be harder for them. It's very hard to explain that once you're used to using it, your life will be much easier. By splitting it up among each department, each was responsible for their own little bit. And then at the end of it, we put it all together." If someone is designated to handle the transition onsite, it's better to have that person communicate training in- formation to groups instead of one-one- one questions, panelists said. at way everyone stays on the same page. Post- ing helpful tips on Google Docs ensures everyone can access frequently asked questions and instructions. "You can't forget the fact you won't know everything, whether you're the one who does the transition yourself or you delegate it, until you play with the soft- ware and use it for a few months," Erlich said. "It's like a video game. You have to play it to get the hang of it." Farm-In/Farm-Out Flexibility With any new system, you should ask af- filiates if they have comparable GPS ca- pability. Are you using affiliates that have the proper software? "ese are things you have to think about if you're doing a lot of farm-out work," Erlich said. at be- comes critical when sharing GPS-based information, such as enabling a farmed- out client to get texts about their ride sta- tus upon arrival at an airport. at leads to another key challenge for much of the industry: Connectiv- ity among different software systems. What would you tell a software provider today? Kane asked. "What would be the biggest thing you'd want from them?" "Stop being stubborn and learn how to all work together," Erlich replied. "I think all our systems need to be able to speak together." "We would like to be part of the next generation, right?" Versace replied. "I'm very satisfied with the way my They've been through it! Veteran operators Richard Kane (top) and (L to R) Jay Erlich, Peter Turner, and Rick Versace all had plenty of war stories on getting through a major transition to new operational software. See SIX additional standards to consider when buying new operational software: Check out the online version of this article at under keywords "software" and/or "ILCT 2018"

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