Eric sits down with SmartMove CEO Jason Lawrie to find out how their company elevates taxi & transportation businesses in Australia and all over the US — especially helping those with small fleets.
Eric: Hey everybody! Welcome to the contact center cactus chat podcast. I’m your host Eric Mulvin. And this is a special episode where coming to you from Las Vegas at Caesars Palace where at the mobilize ah taxi association conference here and we’ve got some special guests. We’ve got a special guest that’s traveled probably the farthest out of anybody here at the conference. Ah Jason Lawrie from uhm Australia, all the way uhm from. what part of Australia are you guys in?
Jason: Adelaide in South Australia.
Eric: Adelaide. Alright! D’you guys just beat our Phoenix suns? In the pre-season basketball game.
Jason: Yeah, I saw that.
Eric: (Laughing) So ah. Alright, well we’re excited. We’re going to be talking today about their business SmartMove systems. And what they do to help taxi companies and flee pre-operators in Australia, and soon in the US. And so once you introduce yourself to the audience here, tell us uhm, about SmartMove and the uhm what you do there?
Jason: Ok. uhm well, I’m Jason Lawrie. The CEO of SmartMove, uhm we’ve been uhm creating a taxi dispatch system over the last seventeen years. Uhm were about a hundred and thirty fleets across the Australia and New Zealand. And fleets sizes that range from two cars up to over two hundred. Ah and, yeah we wanna be able to bring that same passion and experience, ah to the US market. And I think, that we would be able to find a good fit here.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. Now that we’ve been talking for a while. This has been a dream of you guys, for sometime covid, obviously has changed everybody’s plans and, and strategic ideas (laugh) that they were trying to accomplish. But ah, how are things going on in the Australian world of the transportation and taxi companies out there?
Jason: Ah yeah. I mean, ah you know they obviously cut the head of the traumatic fit there as well. And you know a lot of the plates uhm starting to build up and recover.
Jason: And a lot of the, especially the tourist destinations were hit the hardest, so they’re having a bit more uhm of a struggle. But yeah, we, you know, we’re growing, we’re finding and we’re able to uhm help these fleets, be able to get back on their feet. And through, you know looking at other options. Either being able to outsource their call center or partially outsource. And just be able to be flexible and grow.
Eric: Yeah, and I know you guys work a little bit of the smaller fleets, you don’t work with the massive ones. What is some of the other ways that you guys, are able to help the smaller ones? ‘Cause I, we started out as a taxi company for ten-eleven years ago, with ten cars and I remember the struggle it was running a fleet where you’re doing twenty different things, every day and it’s just this is really difficult. So, how do you guys help the duh those fleets?
Jason: Yeah, well, our system is being built from the ground but four small fleets. So, uhm, by the name is that we provide, for call centers to be able to handle many fleets at the same time. Ah be at five different logical centers in Australia and they handle at thirty fleets, ah each and so, they’re able to provide a service first to a small taxi fleet and a couple of cars. Normally I wouldn’t be with them, (inaudible) cause it’s too easy to settle, click in and get those fleets going and able to service them and it doesn’t make it too much harder. So uhm, it’s the ability and being able to give the features and the benefits of the software the latest innovation of stocks to the fleets that are small but normally, Ok. We can afford that kind of system, well about the pricing and stuff these guys pick on their cars. It doesn’t matter big, small uhm like still get access to these features and benefits to their customers and themselves.
Eric: Yeah, and that’s really why we’re attracted to you guys because we have to turn those people away typically. You know when, when they only have two or three cars or five cars. It’s really not in the budget to afford a full-time call center agent taking calls when. Many times these guys, the drivers are the ones answering the phone or the owner, and you know he’s juggling that, so they know that they need to get the software on their plate so that they can grow their company. But how do you make that jump when it sounds like you guys really help the companies figure that out?
Jason: Yeah, yeah, and there’s been so many companies that set once they come with us they so much less stress and said we should have done this a few years ago because they are juggling so many things but we try to let them get back to what they’re good at, which is but the driving or growing their own business nothing to worry about other different aspects that may not be remain, remain business
Eric: Yeah, yeah, that’s what we’re always telling people like. You did not start a taxi company, to start a call center, but here you are trying the manage it and it’s taking up all your time. Meanwhile, you don’t have enough drivers. You’re, you know you’ve got to fix this, and this, and this. So yeah that’s really awesome. Uhm, another thing uhm about you guys. So, we’ve talked, on the podcast, we’d like to talk about customer experience and you guys played a huge role on that. So, what uhm what do you guys do to make the customer experience really great for and the customers for these fleets?
Jason: Yeah, well we provide them, because we’ve got a hundred and thirty different fleets, we’ve got lots of different options, for the fleets to be able to tailor the experience the way that they used to working. So, and we pride a lot of roles of the fleets so that they can say ok, so if someone will rings in, then make sure that it automatically gets set because they always want this driver or something like that so even though it’s being outsourced to another call center, that, that kind of knowledge it’s translated in there and it’s never forgotten.
Jason: So that’s one cs factor, for providing that small business service but with the expanded concept. We also have a lot of ways to be able to do bookings. We’ve got the apps, we’ve got websites that can be tailored, can be tailored to a particular hotels or medical centers or uhm airports and things, so uhm fleets can set those up. And get that, so the account customers can have the right experience and check their own stuff.
Jason: Uhm yeah we tried to make us as customer friendly as possible. (background noise) we tried to either be right on the system to make it on hold in busy times.
Jason: And there are a lot of settings, to be able to uhm tell us the driver was being able to get bookings (background noise) in an efficient way. Notifications smses, whatever communication works best to be able to you know. So the drivers can connect with us, customers to give them the best fleet possible.
Eric: That’s incredible, ‘cause I know a lot of these smaller fleets without a system like you guys it’s impossible to be able to offer all of those booking features and notifications for the customers so.
Eric: Yeah that’s really incredible. Uhm do you have any stories about ah success stories from Australia where they were able to like small fleets started with you guys, they were able to get things loaded off, and they were able to grow because they could focus on growing?
Jason: Yeah, I mean we’ve, we’ve had ah number fleets sort off, so that (background noise) they can set off where a couple of cars can get in so they were able to get started. I think one of the biggest growth stories, we had a fleet that started with just a couple of cars uhm in Canberra, the capital of Australia. And that likely to, think a hundred and fifty cars
Eric: Uhm, wow!
Jason: Uhm so, coming up (inaudible) up there a hundred cars so, we’ve seen quote a few success stories where they start small and then had ambitions and uhm
Jason: they manage to pull it off. So, we’re happy to be able to be part of that and help them. And their growth wasn’t a problem because we’re able ok, you want a new car hup them on.
Eric: Yeah, it’s really easy.
Eric: Yeah that’s great. ‘cause I feel like, we’ve started the call center, we’ve been running it about seven years now. And we’ve seen a lot of that from our own clients too. Where now they’re not managing the call center, and they’re able to start doing some of their business calls that they wanted to do. Whether it’s adding on another service or going after another market. Or even buying up or acquiring other companies. They’re able to focus on that. Ah so I’m, you put a hundred and thirty fleets you said right in Australia? So, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of stories like that across the country, I’m guessing. (laugh)
Jason: Yeah, yeah. And make us, mostly they’ve focused on the sort of regional areas of Australia because there’s a lot of small towns all around. And that’s where we started and that’s where we’ve grown and that’s why we’ve got so may fleets. And just so too open, just you know the local, yeah into the local area and give them back, and that’s why we had to make sure that we give them all the benefits and just being able to take that load off and reduce the amount of time that they putting into invoicing, and doing all the back-end stuff, so like hen just take that focus, ok well how do we make this better?
Eric: Yeah, i think there has been a big realization in the whole industry althrough the last five to ten years, at maybe almost by four. Like you don’t have any choice, if you don’t figure this out, your competitors are figuring it out. And you’ve got to catch up otherwise your not gonna be around anymore so.
Jason: Yeah, and, and it’s the customer service, that’s gonna make people sudden stick to you then. You know, be that at that low to you. Ok, I know that they give good service, I’m just gonna get going back to them. So let them focus on that. (inaudible)
Eric: Yeah, yeah definitely. Well I, how did you, your uhm being a CEO how did you get started? What got you into running a dispatch system in the taxi industry, like SmartMove.
Jason: Ok, uhm I mean, I need to cover a CEO in the last couple of years. And (background noise) my former boss was got ah he, he had a couple of people from the tech industry come to him and say we’ve got this idea of uhm running ah taxi system using a mobile network rather than a radio base. Which seventeen years ago was quite innovative.
Jason: And, you know. so he look to it and put note it’s a good idea. So we got that into that move forward with the software development. We were ah a software company together that time. It’s contractor so it’s quite a different idea and so I started growing then a few fleets that are willing to take a chance on this new concept. And yeah we work from there. So had the software developer at that point helping to build a thing, and so recently uhm he retired and I took for the CEO.
Eric: Ah ok, software developer and now running the company. (laugh)
Jason: Yeah, yeah so the software development is in my blood and I mean our company is still software development at curve but,
Jason: just focus on taxis I think more than sixty percent of our employees are software developers so keeping the system innovating, adding things is very much part of what we do. We want to improve costly uhm all of the ideas and things that we put in to our software generally come from our customer saying oh can we do this oh that’s a great idea and better be useful to all the fleets. So we add it and yeah system gets better and better.
Eric: Yeah. that’s great. Wherever you see the cause you’ve been a part of lot of the changes in Australia and now trying to bring it here. Ah, where do you see the industry going in the next five or ten years? If you can even predict that far, I know it’s been changing so fast. So it’s kinda hard to see that far out but.
Jason: Yeah, well I guess continuing to focus on giving customers that good experiences, creative getting to the ten years uhm it’s gonna become a lot more focus on uhm account work and getting into like a corporate any empty and yup providing services and capabilities, that allow them to be able to get the information they want and be able to manage self manage their own bookings to a certain extent cause they would be able to get that information they want the confidence that their bookings gone in they know that it’s gonna be coming and they have a control over that so that’s a lot of what we are building in the short term uhm that would be on that
Jason: it’s a bit tricky.
Eric: I know, yeah. It’s cause I don’t think, if you would’ve, I have to ask you that question five years ago, you probably would never be able to guess what’s happened over the last couple of years here.
Jason: Yes cause then that would be able to that kind of thing, is i think one of that strings because so we focus on the software development side in improving things we’re very quickly adapt to providing our customers right to do food delivery and things like that.
Jason: And then have it with the Australia at least they authorized be uhm send their workers for delivering pastries or food and things while everybody was lockdown. So we quickly adapt put that in and allowing to go keep working even though that one never transport passengers that came a lot more important.
Eric: Yeah, that’s huge. Actually, they made a big difference for the drivers, for the fleet operators, they’re still pulling in an extra income.
Jason: Yeah, yeah. Just being able to sort of figure that would be ready to change with the customers what they need, uhm it’s important.
Eric: Definitely, I mean we have to do the same with the call center and adjust when things, I think everybody lost half of their business when more like a grenade. So it was a lot of a (inaudible) and adjusting (laugh) which you sounds like you know. You guys have done too. Started out just a first contact software and now fleet ah transportation uhm management system. So uhm and I want to touch one other thing too. Cause you guys work with call centers and outsourcing and so uhm that’s what we do uhm what’s some of the feedback you get from the fleets when they finally give up the calls and they’re able to stop answering the phones all the time. Cause I wouldn’t imagine cause that would really be freeing with them and liberating huh.
Jason: Yes, uhm well I mean, again that’s very much a why we didn’t do this sooner just because uhm yeah that’s it’s not their passion and that’s not what they want to be doing. Then it’s make it so much easier. And also comes quite cost-effective as well uh because you haven’t running a twenty-four by seven call center when you only got a few cars. Very cost-effective, so we’ve been able to had it so that if I really want they can take calls during the busy times and then offload during the other times. Most, a lot of fleets will start out that way cause I think they still want to be able to do themselves during the busy times. Almost most of them will go fully uhm remote because it’s fine the quality is still there uhm and it’s easier. So ok will try for well and yeah.
Eric: Yeah, alright it sounds a lot like our clients start working with us too. Sometimes we’ll start with one or two agents. Like let’s see how this goes and give us some smaller shifts and once they start seeing like what they’re hoping to see, then they start expanding and growing in and I hope I could step back and turn that over to you guys. Uhm all right, well this is you guys first trip out to the States for as a smaller event or maybe you’ve been here before, but uh as ah as you guys are here promoting the company. What do you guys are hoping, what’s the message you trying to get out to everybody what are you trying to let everyone know will share it on the podcast.
Jason: Well I guess with we just want everybody know that we’re here uhm in Australia we find you know, we’ve known in the industry everybody knows us expect us so we want to come out here and say look, we had some real expertise fleets. Benefits by using us and take a look at us, and you’ll find that you know we’d a great way to be able to use your dispatch uhm and services. So yeah just a sort of getting to be known and have an opportunity to be able to demonstrate our system to comfortably fit their needs.
Eric: Yeah, I think you guys will be great here because I’ve talked to so many smaller fleets over the past, I don’t know how many a few months over the summer and I’ve talked to people that are still using the radio. I mean how? Are you still using the radio? Like such an old technology for transportations. So I’d see a lot of opportunities for a lot to start working with you guys uhm excited to see you guys go over the next year. Hopefully you had a lot of success from this trip. And thank you so much for being the guest of our podcast.
Eric: And if people want to learn more about SmartMove system maybe they want to have demo with you guys. How will they get in touch with you guys?
Jason: Yup,well they can go to our website the SmartMove system dot com. That would be the easiest way. Contact us there through the call or web form and we’ll be more than happy to set up a demo.
Eric: All right, awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for being on and will catch you on the next episode. See you guys.