TowBoatU.S. San Diego, founded in 1987, is the most established Towboat company in San Diego. Their experienced staff assists thousands of boats a year off the coast of Southern California and Baja, Mexico. Rob Butler's company is ranked number four in the U.S. in terms of caseload volume. TowBoatU.S. San Diego is 100% mobile and 100% paperless.
Q: What challenges were you experiencing prior to purchasing VSS?
A: While we're at sea, it’s hard to keep track of new service requests coming in by phone and it is difficult getting invoice details back to the main ofﬁce. Imagine those busy days when you barely get a chance to write up an order or the paperwork gets lost. It’s easy to misplace, lose the invoice or forget to write up the order. How do you follow up with a client weeks or months after the service was done? We knew we needed to change something to become more organized and remain competitive and responsive in the marketplace.
Q: What led you to decide to use Vessel Service Solutions?
A: We needed a way to streamline our method of receiving and processing orders to improve business, turnaround time, and efficiency of service. Before VSS, we were using a work order software that allowed us to dispatch orders to a captain's iPad, but since the majority of our orders come from BoatU.S., we wanted something that would actually import the BoatU.S. order information directly into a form in the system. With the old solution, our staff had to copy and paste the email into the database, which was labor intensive and slow.
We were also using a completely separate software to track all fleet maintenance, but the solution was too complex for our needs. The Fuel Log and Maintenance modules in VSS are very easy to use and perfect for our needs – we only record the information we want to track.
Q: What goals were you hoping to achieve with a new solution?
A: We wanted to provide our captains with a simple, paperless, easy-to-use system. We needed the ability to quickly update the data needed for an order (times, services, etc.) and get the customer’s signature all while assisting a boater. Making sure we could do this without an internet connection was very important. VSS did all of this and it has an incredibly short learning curve. The captains can pick up an iPad and start using VSS confidently in a day or two.
Q: How has VSS helped your business?
A: It's been great. We've been using VSS since 2014. And since then we've seen an improvement in payment processing and an increase in customer satisfaction. Now all towing orders go in and out through our iPads - keeping everything up to date and our ofﬁce completely paperless. My boat captains are able to receive an order on their iPad, edit and update the order at sea, and send their orders back to the main ofﬁce for invoicing. Paper forms are completely eliminated, customers in distress are assisted faster, and the payment process with BoatU.S. or non-member customers has been greatly improved. The system tracks all orders, so it's easy to follow up and collect payment. I would estimate that VSS saved us at least $60K in 2016.
Q: What about VSS do you use the most?
Probably the remote dispatching feature. With VSS, I – or anyone else - can dispatch tow orders on the road. No one has to be sitting down at a computer to send out a tow dispatch. With VSS, it's easy to work on the go – we don't really have an office anymore. Our entire operation is mobile.
Q: What is your favorite feature of VSS?
A: My office manager really appreciates the fact that you can instantly push invoices from VSS to your QuickBooks file and send completed orders directly to BoatU.S. This ensures that the main office stays up-to-date and completely eliminates manual re-entry of data. Sending orders directly to BoatU.S. without having to scan or fax anything has helped reduce the time spent in the office and helps us get paid faster. I'd estimate we've reduced our office work by 90%
I also really appreciate the maintenance message pop-ups that remind staff when a service is due on a boat.
Q: You've been using VSS since 2014, is there anything you're excited about with the release?
This solution has just continued to get better and better. There is a lot to be excited about, but if I had to pick one new feature, I would say it is the fact that captains can create an order on the iPad while at sea. We used to send captains blank order from the central dispatch file. Now, when my captains come across a stranded boater in the middle of the ocean, they can create a new order themselves, instead of having to call into dispatch to get a blank order.
For more information on Vessel Service Solutions please visit: www.vesselservicesolutions.com