Michael Lindsey will be giving a special presentation on the features of his software at the upcoming International LCT Show
, March 16-18 at the Venetian Palazzo in Las Vegas this year.
When Michael Lindsey first started Lindsey Limousine in 1989, he was quick to see that computers could help him streamline some operations. He had just earned a degree in management and marketing from Keense State College, where he received some rudimentary programming instruction at the school’s computer lab.
Starting with one car, he realized that a simple software program could help him track his reservations and clientele. “Back then, I wrote a program to make a small database that allowed me to print off trip sheets and search for customers by name, and it helped a lot,” he says.
The business grew quickly and Lindsey moved the business to a new location in 1995 that could accommodate his 22-vehicle fleet. When the expansion brought more affiliate work, Lindsey again saw an opportunity where automation could improve efficiency.
“People started calling me up and asking me for my rates and information to send me rides in Hartford, Conn., which was where I was focusing my business, and I noticed that everyone was basically asking me the same questions but in different order,” he says. “I knew there had to be a better way and thought if we can get this all in one place, it could really save time.”
lets operators fill out their affiliate info and view the info of other operators in markets they farm out to.
The solution was RateButler.com, a forum for operators to post their detailed affiliate sheets, identifying their rates, insurance, year founded, number of vehicles, and more, and have it all gathered together in one place online. By doing so, any updates to rates would instantly be accessible to others, and operators could control exactly who could view their rates and information and who couldn’t. “It was like the Facebook for affiliates, but they couldn’t see each other’s friends,” Lindsey recalls.
Similar to how Monster.com lets individuals post a resume that can be viewed by many different employers, Rate Butler provides immediacy for operators who want to farm out to different locations. “Before, in the old days, if you had a client call in and asked for a trip in a faraway city, you had to put them on hold, look up your affiliate in that city, and call them for the rates,” Lindsey says. “Then you’d go back to your client to give them the quote. Now all of that is handled by a few clicks on the mouse and you don’t have to lose time and put the client on hold. You can give them a quote instantly and it’s a much more professional experience.”
Rate Butler has more than 900 active users, and Lindsey has kept the site free of charge. “It is something I initially created to help improve my limo company’s operations, and I realized it would be useful to other operators as well. So if it helps me with my business then it pays for itself.”
dashboard shows your company’s overall performance over the last 30 days, and shows where you are doing well and where you need some work.
The success of Rate Butler helped inspire Lindsey to branch out to another software idea. Always looking to better his service, Lindsey had been sending different surveys to his clients to try to get feedback. “I recognized I didn’t like Survey Monkey because people knew it’s a free service and don’t take them that seriously, and I didn’t want to put a survey tool on my own website or have my company branded with it because people in general don’t like conflict and I thought I wouldn’t get good results.” The answer for Lindsey was to purchase LimoSurvey.com, an independent domain name where clients feel more comfortable filling out survey questions.
“I felt with this it would give me the look and feel of a third party, and it’s industry specific too,” Lindsey says. He could now send out survey questions to clients and feel more confident in their responses. After creating more than 450 standard limo service questions, and breaking them down into three main results categories of customer service, vehicle experience, and chauffeur experience, Lindsey felt he had a viable product that could be sold to other operators.
Launching to the industry in 2011, LimoSurvey.com allows operators to use the survey portal to customize their own surveys from the templates created by Lindsey. Once they start sending out surveys and receiving feedback, they can chart their progress compared to other operators using the system (all anonymous comparisons). “This is really a great feature because it allows you to see how you’re doing compared to other limo companies in the industry,” Lindsey says.
“And it lets you scrutinize data and pull out industry trends, like fleet vehicles. Maybe you are tracking your vehicle feedback and seeing they’re not ranking as high as some other operators, and it might mean you need to freshen up your fleet or make some brand changes.”
LimoSurvey.com has a rate of $30 per month. Operators can view many precise details from the surveys such as which clients reported unsatisfactory services so operators can quickly remedy any service issues.
interface shows each chauffeur’s availability and job refusals, along with a number of other key data features.
With two successful software launches under his belt, Lindsey came up with an idea he knew would be a hit. “The first two products were really just ways of me trying to improve my business, and the broader appeal didn’t factor in until after. But with Driver Schedule, I knew we had something people would really be interested in.”
Driver Schedule is a full HR Suite of products to manage all aspects of a ground transportation company. Chauffeurs input their availability for the next two weeks and block out times and days they will be open to take calls for rides, which is automatically integrated with the dispatchers scheduling software.
“With the chauffeured transportation industry, we’ve always had to rely on our chauffeurs to tell us when they’re available, and sometimes there would be glitches where chauffeurs would call in last minute for dentist appointments, or forget to write their availability correctly and refuse jobs that we called them for because we thought they were available when they weren’t. Now, it’s all automated and the onus is on the chauffeur. They control when they are available and when they’re not.”
The results include more efficiency in fulfilling ride requests and managing the chauffeur performance records. “One of the great things about this is that we have started to win unemployment cases, and that is huge,” Lindsey says. Before, if a chauffeur often refused work, he would collect unemployment on grounds the operator failed to provide adequate work. But with the chauffeur’s stated availability recorded and refusals logged, operators can show that the chauffeur has not been available. “If you win one or two unemployment cases a year, the software pays for itself,” Lindsey says.
DriverSchedule.com also has expanded to include a full employee management program, where the staff can be organized and time clocks automated along with billing details and PTO accumulation. Lindsey also has just released a full chauffeur training portal that logs each chauffeur’s progress through the system. Also, chauffeur records are set with reminders, so license expirations are never surprises and work anniversaries and birthdays are remembered.