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Archive for December, 2016

A Non-Exhaustive List of How VSS Can Make Your Life Easier

December 16th, 2016

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What is Vessel Service Solutions (VSS)? It is a solution designed for the boat assistance and towing industry. Simply stated, your business is assisting boaters and managing a fleet – and VSS is here to help you efficiently manage every aspect in between.

You’re asking, as the owner of a boat towing company, how can VSS help me?

First we’ll ask you a couple questions:

How do you currently handle your order processing? When you receive an order from BoatU.S. do you copy and paste, re-type, or hand write information before you dispatch your captain? What if, with the touch of a button, you could populate a form with the BoatU.S. order details and then send it to a captain?

How do you submit orders for payment? Do you use a two-part carbon copy form that you have to collect from your captains before you can scan and email or fax to BoatU.S.? Ever lose one overboard with a gust of wind? Do you find this process to be time consuming and results in payment delays? With VSS you don’t have to hassle with paper. Your clients can digitally sign a tow order and your dispatcher can email it to BoatU.S. the same day.

Still curious how VSS can assist you in streamlining your business operations?

Reduce paperwork or actually go paperless: Make your dispatcher’s life easier, reduce costs and waste. With VSS all order processing, log tracking, and timesheets are handled on your computer or iPad. There is no need to print forms.
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Assist boaters faster: When BoatU.S. sends a tow order to your dispatcher, VSS imports the order email directly into a standardized form. Dispatchers can add additional information and assign the order to a captain’s iPad – all with just a few clicks.

Send texts to alert captains of new orders: Once an order is assigned, VSS can send the assigned captain a text about the pending order – no need for additional phone calls.

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Captains can receive orders at sea: When an order has been assigned, captains can retrieve the orders on their iPads – there is no need to come back to the office or spend time on the phone discussing the new tow order with the dispatcher. iPads must have access to the internet to retrieve pending orders.

Easily update orders: While at sea, captains can update and edit orders on their iPads (no internet connection needed). Adding service items, updating time tracking, and getting customer signatures is quick and easy.

Quickly sync between central and remote: After the captain is done assisting the boater and has an internet connection, he can send the order back to dispatch for review and final processing.

Get paid faster: With VSS, you can create, edit, sign, and submit an order for payment all from your computer or iPad – there is no need to print or fax documents. When you’re ready to invoice BoatU.S., simply click a button and an email will automatically be generated with the invoice attached and the required BoatU.S. subject line: Tower ID – Member ID.

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Analyze your business’s success: Pull reports on orders, boats, and time sheets to review data, trends, performance, and profitability.

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Process payroll faster: The Timesheet’s module handles commission percentages, straight hourly rates, and day and night rates.

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Protect sensitive information: VSS has robust privilege settings, allowing management to dictate what information and modules employees can view, edit, and delete.

Maintain Employee Records: Store employee information in the system with the ability to easily and quickly update pay rates and contact details.

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Maintain fuel logs: Tracking fuel use not only helps you monitor boat expenses, but also helps you reconcile your monthly fueling expenses. Users can add fuel logs on the iPad and record the date, engine hours, cost per gallon, number of gallons, total cost, and fueling location.

Ensure all boat maintenance is performed on time: With maintenance schedules, you can ensure you never miss an oil change again. By creating schedules, you can track mileage and plan for boat maintenance, ensuring your fleet is always in top shape and you’re never down a boat on a busy weekend.

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Log maintenance performed: With the Maintenance Log you can track all maintenance on all boats, log the date, engine hours, services performed, and the total cost.

How VSS Helped Baltimore Marine Recovery Operate More Efficiently

December 14th, 2016

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Baltimore Marine Recovery, LLC provides emergency towing, salvage, refloat, charter, and launch services to the Chesapeake Bay area. Dale and Christine Plummer have been using Vessel Service Solutions (VSS) for three years. In 2015, they won the BoatU.S. Smooth Sailing Award for “Superior Operational and Organizational Standards” – with help from VSS.

Q: Why did you decide to start using Vessel Service Solutions?
A: We have 10 boats, about 14 staff, and we work out of 3 ports (Annapolis, Baltimore, and Middle River). On top of being busy all year-round, there is a lot of paperwork to deal with on a daily basis. We wanted something to make our lives easier and enable us to continue to deliver great customer service. Plus, VSS allows our captains to handle dispatch orders, fuel and maintenance logs on one iPad application.

Q: What goals were you hoping to achieve with a new solution?
A: Reduce paperwork! Before VSS, we used the standard issue 2-part carbonless TowBoatU.S. invoice. Forms were lost overboard, misplaced, or just were not returned by the captains in a timely manner. With three ports, it was hard to manage and the captains complained that managing paper in a windy, wet environment sucked!
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Q: How has VSS helped your business?
A: In addition to allowing us to go virtually paperless, we’ve seen an increase in boaters assisted and faster turnaround time on payments from BoatU.S. Being able to email a completed, signed order to BoatU.S. directly from VSS is great. I can also share the completed invoice with the boat owner by email.

The system has also made it is easier to process and track orders. I have an accurate and extensive historical record of all orders processed, that I can sort, filter, and search through. I no longer have to flip through old orders in a filing cabinet when BoatU.S. has a question on an invoice. VSS orders can also be submitted directly to my QuickBooks file. Three years ago, I hand entered every order into QuickBooks after I scanned and emailed it to BoatUS. Today, I push a couple of buttons and it is done.

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The Time Sheets module has made payroll much easier, as well. Instead of calling the captains for their hours, I run a simple report and see all timer entries. If something looks off, I can ask the captain to review and update the timer entries. Once that is done, the updated entries are immediately available to process payroll using the Time Sheet reports. I can run one report and have all employees’ time sheets for any time period complete with details for easy reference.

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Q: What is your favorite feature of VSS?
A: I have a couple favorite features. The first is remote dispatching. It is a total game changer. I can take my entire office with me. I have the ability to handle calls and dispatch orders from my son’s football game or from my home in the middle of the night – without getting out of bed.

The second would be ease of use. The system is very straightforward and user-friendly. Even those captains who aren’t tech savvy have found the system easy to use. Now that they know the VSS system, my Captains can’t stand using paper. If they manage to leave without an iPad aboard, they always come back and get it!

And third would be the text notifications that the captains receive when they have been dispatched an order – my guys use that as the basis for their timers. Each email has the invoice number and every invoice needs a timer so at the end of the day they have a running list to use to create or review their timers.

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