Over the last five years, the business has grown exponentially – from 12 people to 65, managing 200 cars instead of 60, and 10 times more bookings. Yet, like any fast-expanding enterprise, LCH has had to adapt its business processes and IT systems to cater for such a step-change in activity.
“We had grown up with multiple systems, with functionality bolted on, to the point that we were managing the business across a range of spreadsheets, desktop and web systems,” explains Marketing Manager Alexandra Osowski. “We needed to consolidate everything, bring more consistency and visibility to how we were doing things, and give offsite workers and drivers the ability to access and interact with our systems from anywhere.”
Because any new system would need to be optimised for LCH’s particular blend of activities, from bookings coordination, invoicing and customer relationship management, to tracking routes and drivers, the company understood that it needed a bespoke system. Yet nine months into work with an original development partner that had been recommended to the company, it became clear that the scope of the requirements was beyond the supplier’s capabilities. LCH received a full refund, but had lost almost a year in its delivery plan. The company had no choice but to go out to the market and find a new software developer.
LCH shortlisted three potential development partners. DCSL GuideSmiths seemed the ideal fit from the first meeting. “They could see straight away where the other company had come unstuck,” Alexandra says. “They understood exactly what we needed, we liked the way they worked, they put together a quote and we were very happy. Our software architect, Alfredo, created a wireframe for the system, and made suggestions along the way of better ways of doing things.”
The new system, known as HireHubb, is web-based and cloud-hosted, with a desktop version and a mobile app, which can be securely accessed from anywhere. All of the functions of the business, from bookings/sales to hire car management, driver routing and vehicle tracking, service management and invoicing, are integrated and managed via this central portal.
One of Alfredo’s suggestions was to integrate the system with Google Maps, to make it easier to track vehicles and drivers, predict journey times for car deliveries, check for the latest traffic information, and select optimum routes. Via mobile phones, HireHubb can pinpoint where LCH’s drivers are and use that information to allocate the nearest driver to collect a car. Meanwhile integration with cars’ GPS systems make it possible to identify the nearest suitable car to the delivery point, optimising the way LCH manages its fleet.
When drivers collect or deliver a vehicle, they can click on the vehicle’s picture on the system via the iPads they carry, and add a mark with a description to keep track of any damage to vehicles. If damage is registered, this can be booked straight through with Maintenance via the Hub.
The Google Maps integration also allows LCH to calculate the distance a car is from the respective office, so the system can charge accordingly for the correct mileage.
The development process followed DCSL GuideSmiths’ usual iterative approach, with short sprints and close client collaboration to ensure that every incremental development met LCH’s needs.
“We had access to DCSL GuideSmiths’ working backlog via Microsoft Azure DevOps too, which meant we could see which aspect of the system they were working on at any one time,” Alexandra says. “For bug testing and communications we used the tracking tool, Sifter, which meant we could feed back any issues or requests immediately – without the need for special meetings. The communication back and forth was excellent.”
For LCH, HireHubb is an investment in the growth of the business. It comes with built-in scalability, because the system is cloud-based and readily adaptable. “We have grown so quickly in recent years that we needed to be able to cope with more of the same,” Alexandra notes.
The integration and centralised, real-time view of everything have streamlined everyday business processes, leading to a better service to customers and an easier time for staff.
Previously, all customer services emails came in to a central Outlook account, for instance, with no visibility of who had responded to what. “Now, HireHubb creates a task from each email and there is complete visibility of where things are. There’s no more relying on handwritten notes.”
The next phase will be to add a customer self-service element to the portal, so that clients can conveniently upload their driving licence and ID documents, and look back through previous bookings. HireHubb’s modern look and feel, and inherent user-friendliness, will make this a painless extension, Alexandra notes.
In the meantime, the successful HireHubb project with DCSL GuideSmiths reflects LCH’s values as an innovator and leader in its market. “The automotive industry is changing: manufacturers are making big strides with electric and connected vehicles and there is a digital transformation happening,” she notes. “We want to stay at the forefront of these changes, retain our edge and ensure the chauffeur industry moves with us. Thanks.”
They understood exactly what we needed, we liked the way they worked, they put together a quote and we were very happy.