Mobile Technology: Seeing the Light At The End of the Burnout Tunnel

Sara Eastwood-McLean
Posted on November 6, 2013

COMMENTARY: Historically, one of the most challenging aspects to running a limousine service is the time and commitment it commands. It is a 24/7 business that requires much “hand holding” of clients. Traditionally, most start-ups come into this marketplace with little or no money and work the business alone before hiring that first chauffeur.

The last item on the neophyte operator’s bucket list to invest in was almost always the operating software. In fact, in a recent conversation with one longtime business owner, he said it took him 15 years to get his operations to a level where he could actually leave it and pursue other interests such as golf and travel.

And then along came mobile technology. Described as a breakthrough operating medium, mobile technology gives us the freedom now to work wherever we want and for small businesses to compete easier with large ones because so much of the technology is free — or thanks to cloud computing — a minimal investment. In today’s chauffeured transportation and charter bus world, while you may not be able to fully check out of your businesses for days and weeks on end, you certainly can leave the offices and keep it all running.

Smartphones are basically mobile computers. Within reason they can help you complete the same tasks as a basic laptop, PC or Mac. From a business point of view, it means you can manage your cash flow, run your accounts, update your social media, chat with employees and customers, and create documents — all on the move. How this makes your business more efficient is plain to see: Whereas 10 years ago being on a train meant you were out of the office, today you can be ‘in the office’ whenever you choose. Take advantage of this and you’ll have a firm footing to compete with bigger rivals.

Mobile technology allows companies to have an unprecedented level of connectivity between employees, vendors, and/or customers. Workers can download applications on their mobile devices that allow them to connect with others through social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Real-time communication with the office is important in delivering improved customer service, but also works to track employee timekeeping with ease.

Social media allows you to market your business and broaden its reach without any spend. Mobile technology has introduced a new dimension into advertising and marketing for businesses worldwide. Potential customers now see business advertisements on mobile phones through a wide variety of mobile marketing technologies including: SMS (text) messaging, mobile websites, mobile applications, banner ads, QR codes, IVR messaging and more.

These advertisements can be customized to reach a more specific, targeted audience thanks to software that “reads” the website or information individuals are seeking on their mobile devices and displaying advertisements that relate to that information. Marketing is improved by this customization, and because most customers and potential customers always have a mobile device handy, their exposure to ads is increased.

Advertising studies indicate that:

  • 97% of mobile subscribers will read an SMS (text) message within 15 minutes of receiving it; 84% will respond within 1 hour. (Do you know any other medium that gets your target’s attention that fast? I don’t!)
  • Average campaign response rates are typically 12% to 15% (as opposed to direct mail which averages 2% to 3%); some companies are seeing response rates as high as 60%+!
  • Mobile is NOT just for teens and twentysomethings; prime purchasers in the 35-44-year-old and 45-54-year-old age brackets are also strongly embracing the use of mobile
  • While 65% of email is spam, less than 10% of SMS is.
  • Demand for mobile websites exceeded PC accessible websites in 2011; if you don’t have one, you need one soon.
  • Cloud-based solutions for smaller companies can cut or remove completely the upfront cost of technology. Collaboration software such as Huddle, Hullo Mail and gwabbit are available for BlackBerry smartphones, on BlackBerry App World.

Job burnout used to be the number one complaint of limousine company owners when I started here 20 years ago. I could relate because in our organization of 100 employees, we thought we were on the cutting edge when we installed our one fax machine for all to share. Thus we were able to nix the courier service! Also, this industry has been saddled with a high human capital rate due to the old-style way of running a limousine business including dispatch “war rooms,” reservation call centers, and the army of chauffeurs needed to provide your core service. Enter the new age of technology through mobile and you will see a substantial reduction in expenses in this area.

Mobile technology that can run your business from anywhere is new. It has only been around for a little more than two years. However, it’s revolutionizing the operating methodologies and making our businesses much more profitable and efficient. We all abhor Uber Car, but inarguably their  technology has given our industry some interesting nuggets to copy that no one had thought of before such as on-demand service and “surge” pricing applications (rate quotes based on your inventory at that time which affords you the ability to increase rates during peak business times). 

If you can save money on people, bookkeeping, marketing and communications while enjoying more freedom from the daily grind, you’ll stand a much better chance of making a profit and enjoying yourself in business.

Related Topics: business management, customer service, mobile internet, mobile technology

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