Each year we dedicate one issue to technology. This is it. We devoted our cover story to the topic and this year chose to focus on best practices for Web sites. In keeping with this theme, I called my good friend, Bruce Davidson, founder of Information Incorporated and formerly with GT3. I asked him to help me come up with a good publisher’s page message on the subject of technology.
We brainstormed some heady ideas, until Bruce mentioned that it would be nice to direct my points toward small business operators. I said, “That’s no problem. Since my husband, whose own company grossed $600,000 in 2003, is a small businessman himself, I often get first-hand advice and tips from him. I’ll call him for some pointers!”
This is what I uncovered. On the sales end of his business, my husband believes that a better clientele will be attracted to working with him if his company projects a professional image. Thus, he has had to master the art of illusion – making his small, upstart business seem big and proficient. On the expense side, he concentrates on streamlined efficiency and low overhead. For both of these reasons, technology in all forms is critical to the success of his everyday business.
Almost all small business owners share the same challenges. Therefore, here are some tips from conversations with my husband that I believe are applicable to this industry and that may help you attract more customers, operate more efficiently and make you appear more professional:
1. Get rid of the cheap answering machine! Invest in a good quality answering machine and/or service. Also, it’s a small price to pay to hire an off-duty disc jockey or student to produce a voice-over for your company. Don’t put your own voice on your system. If you can, use a tasteful on-hold messaging system as well.
2. Offer a GREAT Web site. This is a new era. More consumers, especially the under-30 crowd, rely on the Internet to research a company’s information. You absolutely must have your fleet and company profile online. This will also save money on printing and mailing company brochures. Be sure your take professional photos of your vehicles. You can go through a freelancer or student to handle photography.
3. Have e-mail accessibility on a daily basis. Customers expect immediate transactions to take place when booking rides. You should be able to bounce back an e-mail confirmation right after you’ve booked a trip.
4. If you’re taking reservations while in your car, you must have a cell phone with call forwarding from your office line. You should also have a laptop computer to input the job AND you should have it set up to send and receive remote e-mails. By the way, don’t take reservations, in fact don’t answer the phone, when you have a passenger in your vehicle. Don’t drive while doing any business transaction. It’s dangerous. Pull over. These are four easy tips that can make you seem bigger than life to the outside world. And, if you need information on where to go for any of the above, or if you have some techno-ideas to share with us, please e-mail us today!