Remote working is a huge up-and-comer in the business world. A recent survey of fortune 500 companies showed over 50% planning to increase remote work over the next 3 years. 56% believed remote working made their employees more productive. 62% already have employees working remotely.
Trucking & Transportation companies are finding tremendous savings having staff remote work. Decrease operating cost while increasing productivity? Sounds like one of those “too good to be true” marketing statements! Here’s the kicker:
IT IS NOT!
At Dr Dispatch we have been 100% remote working since 2009.
Remote agents help us keep operating costs down and forces us into systemizing and automating tasks.
Sounds Great! How do I Get Setup To Handle Remote Agents?
How do we break the chains of the traditional office setup and create a virtual office to scale our business and handle as many remote agents as possible?
The big hurdles are handling the telephones and your software. You need each remote agent to receive phone calls, sometimes in different states, without giving your customer a huge rolodex of numbers for each remote agent.
You need software that is accessible from anywhere so your workers can share data and collaborate. I will tackle these two issues below and follow up with some tips you can use to create your own virtual office in no time flat.
1. Handling Phones
Phone systems are expensive and a virtual office setup where the extensions live in different cities or states only makes the cost go up. I found the answer for us at Dr Dispatch.
Grasshopper – Virtual Phone System
Grasshopper knocked hundreds from our phone bill, enabled EVERYONE to work from home in a distributed fashion, and has worked 100% during the year we have had the service.
Featuring online management, voicemail to email transcribing, unlimited extensions (use a cell phone as an extension!) , and many other features – it’s perfect to scale up or down.
Adding/deleting extensions is an absolute breeze.
The free (at the time of this post) runner up – Google Voice.
2. Billing & Accounting
Alright – we have a slick virtual phone system with zero hardware investment that instantly scales up/down! How do I bill?
The default answer is Quickbooks by Intuit (Dr Dispatch integrates with Quickbooks desktop) and we DO use Quickbooks for the books.
For billing we use Freshbooks (and only for billing).
I’m considering integrating Dr Dispatch with Freshbooks for instant and easy emailing of invoices. Customers can securely pay online instantly! Freshbooks does 80% of what you need to do with remote agents.
Quickbooks can handle the other 20%.
I’ve been informed of an integration between Quickbooks and Freshbooks on the immediate horizon.
Freshbooks is a great way to send invoices out and handle recurring billing and AR collection while Quickbooks can just handle ALL of your books and tax prep.
Dr Dispatch uses several online collaboration tools. I thought I would highlight just a few for this post.
Trello – is a GREAT, free, card-based project management system. At Dr Dispatch, we put what we’re working on software-wise up on boards and import feature requests from various sources and bugs.
I could see Trello doing a lot of good managing drivers and making a load board, perhaps on a big 42″ monitor, and would definitely integrate Dr Dispatch – if we can nail down some good use cases.
What can’t you use a free, distributed, project board for? Especially with remote agents in different states?
Campfire – Group chat for businesses. Wide array of mobile apps, easy file sharing, and a CLEAN interface. All Dr Dispatch staff sit in on rooms ranging from sales to support and 99% of communication happens here, out in the open, keeping email free of administrative tasks.
I could see a ton of use here for a brokerage or carrier with remote agents or distributed workers. You can get drivers in a room for status updates, exchange load matching/planning data, really it’s limitless!
Again, we can integrate, and I’m willing to do so!
How does Dr Dispatch ITSELF factor into this distributed / remote workforce movement?
There are several GREAT options. Email me personally, tell me about your operation, and I’ll help you tie ALL of these GREAT tools together into a flawless, well-oiled, distributed work machine.
Dr Dispatch has a security add-on with multi-agent/office support and we work very closely with our customers needing remote agent assistance.
Provide a higher quality of service to your customers than ever before while working with less staff!