Paperwork … UGH! Even in the most organized transportation companies, there is paper everywhere. Regulators need compliance. Insurance companies want documentation. HR needs forms. So many forms.
When I see stacks of paper, I see money wasted — and that’s never a good thing, especially in a pandemic. Many operators talk about implementing technology and know that it could help, but really aren’t sure where to start. It seems … so complicated.
First step: Implement one of the sales and/or operations platforms that are available to the motorcoach industry. Eric Elliott at Distinctive Systems and Kyle DeVivo at The Bus Network are the two people I recommend you talk with, but find a platform that works for you and start there. Whatever it costs, pay it. I promise you’re spending more on payroll to do the same thing as you would on either platform.
Next step: Digitize anything else that you can. We use and recommend the JotForm platform as an affordable solution with good functionality for digital forms. You can also use the free Google Forms platform, and there are many, many other great platforms out there.
Start with a printed copy of your current form and simply recreate it on the digital platform. The JotForm interface is drag-and-drop — no programming required. If you can’t figure it out, use your PPP money to hire someone who does. Now, your employees can fill out the form on their phone or computer instead of walking to the office or turning in a crumbled piece of paper that has been in their pocket all day.
From here, there are two potential paths: the straightforward way and a nerdy-extra-fancy way.
The simplest solution is to have the form submissions emailed to the person who would usually receive the form. It’s simple, time-saving, relatively easy and a big step in the right direction. (If you’re frustrated with me already, stop here. Getting to this point will be a huge improvement to your business, your bottom line and your sanity.)
If you’re still with me, the nerdy-extra-fancy way is to integrate the data to Google Sheets and build a spreadsheet (or a “dashboard,” as we call it) that updates in real time. JotForm will automatically import data to a Google Sheet and allow you to manipulate the data however you’d like. ALERT: Google Sheets can be complicated and frustrating if you’re a basic Excel user, but if you keep at it, you’ll be a whiz before you know it. When you run into trouble, give me a shout, or type your problem into Google and, nine times out of 10, the internet will give you the solution.
These are the basics. You can get exponentially more complicated with no-code platforms like Knack. If you are a Coach Manager client, you can integrate your SQL databases into Power BI. Robots can recognize when data from Samsara requires the attention of your safety manager and send them a Slack message or trigger a reminder on a productivity platform like Monday. You can push data into Quickbooks after expenses are submitted from a trip or shoot data out of your ELD system into a payroll platform. You can text employees, email reminders and communicate with employees across the globe via a variety of integrated platforms.
There are thousands of ways to automate your business via the magic of technology. It’s OK if you’re not there yet. Start somewhere. It will be a big improvement to your operations.
Trisha Fridrich is the Technology Solutions Architect for The L&W Team. An operator turned technology nerd, she helps companies optimize their internal processes to save time and money. When she’s not calling Congress, she loves building spreadsheets and is obsessed with efficiency. Originally from Seattle, she now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. Feel free to reach out to her — she loves to talk about spreadsheets.