Check out this gnarly compilation of scenes to expect from the upcoming tradeshow.
In a world where the business day can begin at 3 a.m. and end at 4 a.m. the next morning, it is sometimes hard to get away from the business. But with an arsenal of high tech gadgets, it is easier than ever to take a vacation or attend a trade show and still be running the show from anywhere.
While you may not have all of the technology contained in this article, one single tool and one single trustworthy person is all you need to get away. With onboard GPS systems in vehicles, you can “see” the location of every vehicle in your fleet no matter where you are. Wi-Fi cameras connected to the Internet allow you to see what is going on in your office or garage from your phone. Computerized software works via the Internet from anywhere using remote access sites that are free and allow you to print trip sheets to a printer in your garage. Using laptop computers, notebooks, tablets or Smartphones, you can answer your emails anytime, anywhere. With Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere, including the International LCT Show trade floor or broadband cellular on your computer device, anywhere a cell phone works your device will work. Online banking, credit-card processing, and mapping systems allow you to run the whole show from anywhere.
Minding the store
By far, the biggest challenge of leaving your facility when you are a one or two-man office is finding someone to watch the building. Obviously your chauffeurs and drivers must have access to the vehicles. If you are the type of person that must meet your chauffeur at 2 a.m. to pick up the vehicle, you will need someone to do that for you or in a small operation. You may just want to trust the chauffeur to keep the car at home for three days and periodically check on it using an onboard GPS system such as Vehicle Path that uses the Internet to display the location. If you want the office attended during business hours, you will need to have a key person to work those hours.
The key person
Obviously, all the technology in the world does not replace the human factor. If you run a small operation, you might need someone to wash the cars or meet with a prospective client to show a vehicle. You need a key person — someone with the actual key to get in the garage or office and who can carry out your instructions provided by email, text or phone call. This does not have to be an employee with years of experience, although your most senior chauffeur is the most logical choice for the job. A family member, a close friend or former employee usually can handle the business through communications with you based on urgency. A simple hourly price guide and a list of available driving personnel is really all you need to handle phone duty.
You should consider leaving a credit card or cash to pay for an unexpected roadside assist or vehicle repair, although getting tow service easily can be handled by phone from anywhere using a credit card.
Taking the two types of orders
Essentially, you have only two types of orders. Prearranged service is the bulk of our business. The second type is “on-demand” or “call-in,” where a vehicle is requested for immediate service. In the latter, if you are the type of person that simply suits up and heads out to do the job, you must have a chauffeur lined up for every day and night that you plan to be gone, ready to take these jobs when you call. For those callers wishing to prearrange service for a later date, except for providing a prompt confirmation, there is no urgency and you can choose times during your trip to sit down and review emails and voicemails to take appropriate action. Using remote access software, you can send the confirmation from wherever you might be at that time.
Using remote access programs
Free programs such as Logmein.com or GotomyPC.com allow you to use any public computer or your own device, including a Smartphone, to do anything you could do while sitting in front of your computer. If you leave your printer on, you can print documents for someone else to pick up such as a trip sheet. You can even insert your signature into a document if you have it stored on your office computer. If you can email a confirmation to a client from the office, you can do it from anywhere. It takes about five minutes to set up and you’ll want to do it and practice before you go.
Answering calls remotely
Almost all phone systems allow call forwarding to another number. If your system does not, you can subscribe to a service through your phone company for about $5 per month. This means anytime you are available to take calls, you simply use any phone to reroute your calls to your cell phone. You can transfer them back to your designated person at any time, SO you don’t need someone to cover you for every moment you are gone. You can set up a greeting on your cell phone informing callers of a slight delay in service with calls being returned based on their immediate needs. You can quickly check a new message for the urgency for response.
Almost all banks offer online access to accounts allowing you to move money from one account to another, pay bills, or ask about transactions. You might leave a limited amount of money in an account with a debit card and transfer money to the account as required. Credit card processors such as PayPal allow you to issue a credit to your customer’s credit card if needed using any computer. You also can charge their card for overtime or other charges as trips are completed. There is no routine financial business transaction that cannot be addressed remotely in the Internet-driven world.
Wi-Fi and cellular broadband connections
Use of Internet technology is based on access to the Internet. Wi-Fi connection points or “hot-spots” have become more widely available. Starbucks used this single feature to boost its popularity by encouraging users to log on while they have a cup of coffee. Hotels may provide Wi-Fi free of charge or for a daily use fee which is well worth the investment and a business tax deduction. Cellular broadband uses cell phone technology such as the 3G and 4G wireless networks that allow a computer device to be used anywhere a cell signal can be found but charges a monthly fee for the service. Using cellular broadband, you can conduct business in your car in the middle of the Mojave desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Check out this gnarly compilation of scenes to expect from the upcoming tradeshow.
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