It is amazing that in the age of computers many limousine companies still operate without what I call proper “headspace and timing,” a term I borrow from the military. The term sprang from the adjustments needed to operate a .50 caliber machine gun. Through the use of small tools, the weapon would be set to fire properly. However, many soldiers would throw out the manual of settings and guess at the adjustments because of speed. The result was that they sacrificed the ability of their weapon to function properly because it was easier not to use the tools.
So how do we adjust the “headspace and timing” of our small businesses?
One way may be to purchase computerized reservation management software. Modern dispatching software does more than just place a reservation and spit out a nifty-looking dispatch sheet. Today’s software includes billing and invoicing, flight tracking, destination mapping, and a slew of reports. I just did my annual taxes in less than 10 minutes with the reporting system of my software. Look through this magazine’s advertising and you will find some excellent offerings to enhance your operation. Some of the solutions run in the hundreds of dollars, and some are subscriptions under $100 a month. But ask yourself, if you are trying to keep all of your business in your head (even for one-vehicle companies), is the loss for missing one run greater than the dollars saved by not investing in tools of the trade? What about your reputation?
“It took three years of planning to set up our company,” says Kelley Dunn at Las Vegas VIP Limousines. “We knew we needed a computerized system right from the start in order to be competitive.” Her husband, George Busegano, agrees. “Computerized dispatch offers features that help us stay organized,” Busegano said. “We can color-code our reservations, track flights, and easily copy multiple trips for the same client.”
Curt Chandler of Bay Area Racing Limos in Pittsburg, Ca. says, “Using software gives the small operator the professional appearance of being a much larger company. I like the online versions because I can access them from anywhere in the country.”
But smaller operators with one or two cars that do all of their own driving can’t always be at the computer. Max Paltsev at Dallas, Texas-based LimoAnywhere provides a solution. LimoAnywhere just created LA Mobile, a way to access your reservations, calendar, and dispatching information right from your internet-able phone or device. Max says now owners can successfully monitor their businesses from anywhere, even while on working vacation.
MAKE IT EASY FOR YOU
It will take you time to learn the software just like any other new program or vehicle. So you need to research one that will be easy for you to understand from the start. Don’t be swayed with all the things a company website says you can do with the software. If you can’t figure out how to make a reservation with it, you won’t use it and therefore have wasted your money. Almost all of the software out there offers free trials, so try them all and see what you like best. Once you choose one, learn it and use it. When I was learning my software, I used to write the reservation down on paper, and then put it in the computer. As I got used to the software, I began to type in the entries as I talked to clients.
So check out the excellent offerings of reservation management software. I think you’ll be impressed. It’s time to get this portion of your “headspace and timing” adjusted properly so you too can become a straight shooter.
– DAVE ALLEN is the owner of Spokane Racing Limos and Party-N-Motion in Spokane, Wash.