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Thread: Starting a new livery answering service

  1. #1
    Senior Member cvclubs's Avatar
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    Default Starting a new livery answering service

    Back when the limo live 24 discussion started I was planning on using them. It was quickly made clear that their service was terrible and their competitors were not much better.

    While I love the limousine industry it is not my only true passion. I am an entrepreneur with multiple businesses and what really brings me joy is my passion for starting new companies. After all the terrible reviews I am researching and putting together my own answering service. This service will focus on the livery industry and my other related companies.

    The purpose of this thread is not to sell you guys on my anticipated service but to see what you truly need.

    My current plan is to have an answering and reservation service. At the moment I do not plan on including all the extras which complicate things and make it more difficult for my employess to provide a smooth service. The plan is to provide the basics; Answering your phone, making reservations, notify you of those reservations, take messages and of course answer common questions.

    You will be able to update your prferences on our website making it completely customizeable. In the user control panel you would fill out information such as time minimums, rates, discounts if applicable, promotions, how the customer is greeted when the phone is answered and whatever you would like.

    Phone conversations will be recorded and if you find one of my employees does a great job while another does not seem to fit your company you can remove that employee from your company profile.

    Please let me know what you think about this, what you would like to see in this service and if you have any suggestions.
    Last edited by cvclubs; May 17th, 2013 at 05:05 PM.
    Nick Groat
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Nick@BellaVitaLimos.com
    Bella Vita Limousines

  2. #2

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    ^^^ I think you got it. I was thinking about the same thing but I have too much on my plate as it is. As a new small business, I know that I have missed out on a lot of business because calls have gone unanswered (mainly because I do have to sleep occasionally) . On the flip side, the call center's cost would far exceed the profit that was lost due to an unanswered call. There has to be a happy median. This seems like an opportunity in that there is a vacuum where there are NO respectable companies out there providing this service to quite a large industry (if there are, they are hiding really good).

    I think this is what it would take to be successful (many of the things that you already posted): And keep in mind I'm just spitballing here.

    Phone call is not answered by business and is transferred to your service.

    Your operator answers with the business' greeting (and is somewhat familiar with your business' operations on at least a basic level).

    Only answer questions about quotes if they fall under very basic parameters. All other inquiries should be taken down in a message that is emailed to the business for them to follow up on.

    If there is an immediate issue or other situations where you as the business would like to be notified immediately (which you would outline), have an "emergency" number which can be called to reach someone at the business to address the call immediately.

    Try to have the same couple of call takers assigned to specific businesses. That way callers and business owners would form a relationship with your company and its employees. Also good when the potential client says so and so told me this, you're not in a position where you have no idea who so and so is and have no way of calling them to clarify what they might have told a client or get them on board with how you would prefer similar issues to be handled in the future.

    Don't kill the golden goose. You will be servicing small companies that obviously can't afford to hire someone to work overnight or dedicated to answer calls in an office. Maybe $20 a month to service the account and $6 per call or something along those lines. I'm not sure what the costs would be but you need to figure out a way to make it affordable and profitable to someone that in many cases is just barely scrapping by.

    The key is to find and hire decent call takers (and keep them).

    Keep us posted on your progress. I'd be interested in your service.
    Andrew Armitage
    Vintage Chauffeuring LLC
    Andrew@VintageChauffeuring.com
    www.VintageChauffeuring.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member cvclubs's Avatar
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    Default

    Thank you so much for your response. Most of the things you have said were already part of the plan. I want this to be a basic call center. It seems the problems come into play when little unnecessary (but nice) features are added. With this service I will get those phone calls answered but, as you have said, we will not have a problem taking messages and having your offices call back the next day on things I am not 100% on.

    I dont know your business like you do and no one else will either. This is going to be the thought that gets put behind everything I am planning on doing.

    Pricing is being researched now. As Vintage Limos suggested I do plan on a small monthly fee to cover phone line costs and basic expenses. The remainging "per call," "By the minute,"... whatever... is still getting figured out. If you guys have experience with call centers and their rates and what you liked and didnt like or have suggestions I will listen to everything.

    Edit: Just a thought
    On the topic of pricing I am thinking of doing a tiered schedule. The numbers I am using are purely for an example as I do not want to put any pricing into your minds yet.

    Individual phone call duration: Cost
    0-15 Seconds: $20
    15 seconds-1 minute: $100
    1 minute to 3 Minutes: $95 per minute
    3minutes to 5 minutes: $90 per minute
    5 minutes to 10 minutes: $85 per minute
    10min+: $80 per min

    *Unreasonable hold time results in that time being free.
    *You can set a maximum time per call if the client is not taking action. For example you can set it so that if after 2 minutes the client is not willing to start booking then we take the name and number and sent it to you for follow up the next day.
    Last edited by cvclubs; May 17th, 2013 at 07:24 PM.
    Nick Groat
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Nick@BellaVitaLimos.com
    Bella Vita Limousines

  4. #4

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    Too complicated.

    The pricing schedule needs to be simple. What you listed is too complex. Most consumers of any product will pass if they cannot fully grasp what the cost will be in about 5 seconds.

    I'm weary of any price scheme where I will be charged on a per minute basis on how quickly two people that I don't know have a conversation.

    option a (rate quote) $X
    option b (take a message) $Y

    How quickly you handle a call is on your company.
    Andrew Armitage
    Vintage Chauffeuring LLC
    Andrew@VintageChauffeuring.com
    www.VintageChauffeuring.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member cvclubs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vintage Limos View Post
    Too complicated.

    The pricing schedule needs to be simple. What you listed is too complex. Most consumers of any product will pass if they cannot fully grasp what the cost will be in about 5 seconds.

    I'm weary of any price scheme where I will be charged on a per minute basis on how quickly two people that I don't know have a conversation.

    option a (rate quote) $X
    option b (take a message) $Y

    How quickly you handle a call is on your company.
    I agree with being weary on a price scheme based on a per minute call as well which is why any hold time would not be billed.

    There are some issues that go along with a per call rate as well which i have to work through.

    Thank you again for your input and I hope everyone keeps it coming.
    Nick Groat
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Nick@BellaVitaLimos.com
    Bella Vita Limousines

  6. #6
    Senior Member cvclubs's Avatar
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    How about something like this?

    Plan 1
    $xxx.xx 100 monthly minutes
    Each additional minute $X.XX per min

    Plan 2
    $xxx.xx 150 monthly minutes
    Each additional minute $X.XX per min

    Plan 3
    $xxx.xx 200 monthly minutes
    Each additional minute $X.XX per min
    *Elongated and unreasonable hold times are not billed... not that there ever should be a hold like that.
    Last edited by cvclubs; May 17th, 2013 at 10:32 PM.
    Nick Groat
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Nick@BellaVitaLimos.com
    Bella Vita Limousines

  7. #7

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    I do like that better. No one wants a shock when they see their bill.

    Have an option for the client to turn the service off if it hits the max of their plan instead of overage charges.

    If you are consistent and fair, clients are more likely to stay over the long haul. One huge unexpected bill is enough to sour a client.
    Andrew Armitage
    Vintage Chauffeuring LLC
    Andrew@VintageChauffeuring.com
    www.VintageChauffeuring.com

  8. #8
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    The most importamt thing you need to handle is the question: where is my driver? That is the downfall of most answering services. Anyone can take a reservation.
    Steve Walker ppvsteve@gmail.com

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve W. View Post
    The most importamt thing you need to handle is the question: where is my driver? That is the downfall of most answering services. Anyone can take a reservation.
    That's where the emergency phone number(s) they have on hand comes into play. Client with a missing car... That's something to get woken up in the middle of the night about.
    Andrew Armitage
    Vintage Chauffeuring LLC
    Andrew@VintageChauffeuring.com
    www.VintageChauffeuring.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve W. View Post
    The most importamt thing you need to handle is the question: where is my driver? That is the downfall of most answering services. Anyone can take a reservation.
    If I was to use an answering service they would have access to my GPS system and have my drivers phone number and should be able to handle it. I still think those services are not only a waste of money but probably do more harm than good.

  11. #11

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    what happened? was this company opened?

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