This is a conversation between Mark Scott (VP of Marketing, ProntoForms) and Jody A. Smith (Fleet Operations Manager, AAA Carolinas).
Jody: My name is Jody Smith, I’m the Fleet Operations Manager of AAA in Carolina. Many people know us for our emergency road service section of our business, but we also do travel and repair work and insurance, but the road service is what we are known for. We are the group that comes out and tows your vehicle in a time of need, delivers tires, delivers gas, and we have a mobile battery service as well.
Mark: Can you talk a little bit about some of the challenges or issues that you and your teams were facing, before ProntoForms, that lead you to search for a better way?
Jody: I think the challenge that we were facing was probably the same challenge that many people see. It was accessibility, consistency, availability, everything that goes into the technicians or employees in the field trying to fumble around with paperwork and turning it in. It was a very clunky, archaic method. I remember back in the 90’s when we were talking about a ‘paperless work environment’ and somewhere we reached a tipping point. I can’t pinpoint it, but I remember having to go through boxes and boxes of paper looking for one sheet.
Mark: We have the same reaction. Can you talk about the safety checks, the pre-service inspection, and waivers in the context of field employees, and why that information is meaningful to the company?
Jody: We replaced paper forms with mobile forms in a few different areas: first off, we have a pre-service inspection that annotates any pre-existing damage or flaws to the member’s vehicle prior to AAA servicing it, covering the obvious things. We can be servicing a vehicle when things come up that the member didn’t know about, or things the technician could have done, so we want to make sure everything is clearly documented so we can show it back to the member in the event that there’s a dispute.
The old way of doing it was having an outline of the vehicle on a piece of paper and the technician would walk around the vehicle and circle areas on the outline. This was time consuming, and an irritating experience to have someone examine their vehicle and point out all the flaws. It wasn’t a great experience for the technician or the member. We were able to transform that process into the automated mobile form and not only were we able to type any notes that we needed, but we could walk up to two corners of the vehicle and take pictures, hit submit and we are done. It is a much better experience for both the technician and the member.
The second area is our pre-trip inspection. We are mandated to conduct this pre-trip inspection every time one of our service vehicles goes out on the road. Like many other transportation companies, we have taken that mandatory safety inspection and morphed it into more of an operational type inspection, where we are making sure they have the tools and equipment required to do the job. We can also do an overview of the vehicle so if there is anything that needs to be brought to our attention we can do that. That was historically done with check boxes on paper. We trusted that the technician would add accurate information, check the boxes, sign it, and put it into a big box for a mechanic or management staff to sort through. We’ve replaced this paper form with a ProntoForms mobile form where the technicians just select ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as they go through the form. Conditional logic changes the pages on the fly based on user selections, and once the user hits submit the data goes to the appropriate place. If there is a fault in the vehicle, the form will automatically alert the mechanic and generate a notification, so the technician cannot take that vehicle out.
Mark: From a change-management perspective, what did the roll out look like for you? How did your senior management, your peers, and your drivers react to this deployment?
Jody: For the senior management it was the definition of the ROI that spoke to them. We created a test environment where we were able to prove that the upfront costs and ongoing costs were almost a wash in the first couple of months. We were saving so much time on the side of the road, at least 3 minutes per service call, as well as improving the overall experience for our members, employees, and technicians. As anybody in the transportation industry will tell you, when you have employees out on the side of the interstate in the middle of the night, a minute can be worth a lifetime.
We handled most of the front-line level staff through one-on-one interactions. We made a very pointed decision that we were going to bring everybody in individually and walk them through the process and take the time to roll it out slowly and methodically. We were able to get a lot of the technicians involved in some of the testing as well and they were ultimately the ones who came up with the changes and recommendations that we later adopted.
Mark: Can you talk about how geo stamps and time stamp capabilities let you create reports with a level of accuracy that you couldn’t do before?
Jody: We have waivers that describe precarious situations in which the member wants us to leave their vehicles. It still amazes me that we go out to service someone’s vehicle and they throw us the keys and say tow it from point A to point B. They don’t want to know anything else about it. We want to be prepared for these situations, so we have a list of waivers that identify a couple of scenarios in which we may be dropping off the vehicle at a closed lot or an unsecured lot. Before we take ownership of the vehicle, we want to let the owner know that we are towing it at 2:30 a.m. and there is a very good chance no one is going to be at the drop-off location. We are able to document this information in the mobile form and send the waiver to the member for a signature. The driver doesn’t have to write down the date and time, because the form has been saved with the time, date, and location of where that transaction took place. When drivers arrive at the tow destination, they can update the waiver form with pictures of how the vehicle is dropped off, showing where the keys are, and add the final time, date, and location data.
Mark: It’s a good example of leveraging the power of mobile devices with ProntoForms and integrating those capabilities directly into your business process. If there is any discrepancy, there is an audit trail of accountability that is as rich and detailed. Do you have any last bits of feedback or any other discussion topic that you’d want to bring up?
Jody: We were using paper forms in our business for a long time, and we are really glad that we finally took the leap and transitioned to a platform that makes sense. So, thank you for the opportunity.
To learn how ProntoForms can help your team go mobile, sign up for a demo and a free trial here.