Blue & White was founded long before current General Manager Waleed Sonbol joined the business in 2004. While the founder is unknown, records indicate the company has been operating for more than 85 years, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest taxicab business in the Twin Cities. Waleed’s father joined the business in the 1980’s and by 1991 he had secured ownership of the business in a partnership with Waleed’s Uncle.
No Time To Lose
The industry was changing. We could not be content anymore with what we had, and we could not wait for DDS to progress and change with the times. With cloud technology, in app meters, tablets all being part of a changing industry, we had two choices: Wait for change, or find change. We didn’t have the time to wait.
"Every cab company needs a willing business partner, not just a dispatch software company. iCabbi deliver not on what they think we need, but on what we actually do need."
Waleed Sonbol, General Manager
Criteria for a New Dispatch Solution
We were not actually looking for new dispatch system, we already had one that worked. What we were looking for was a whole new way of doing business. We were looking for new possibilities. We were looking for changes that would allow us to do all the things we wanted but more importantly do all the things that our customers wanted.
With DDS, we had servers, phone lines, circuits, towers, radio frequency - too many factors in one system, there was a high risk that any one factor could interrupt our business. It was important that we simplify the process and minimise the risks to our business.
The ability to allow staff to work from home, or from different cities was also a requirement. Sometimes we need people who can work only during our rush hours, so 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon. We decided early on that the system must offer the flexibility and freedom to ramp up staff numbers whenever or wherever needed.
As I said earlier, we were not looking for a traditional dispatch system. We did not believe that any of the typical providers - Mobile Knowledge, DDS or MT Data had it in them to meet the challenges faced by the industry today. Both Uber and Lyft had been around for some time, and it was clear to us that the traditional dispatch providers had not made any strides to accomplishing what was needed to compete.
We went as far as putting together a team to explore building our own system, but soon began to hear about iCabbi from other taxicab companies. The platform was innovative. We had a list of things we wanted, and by the end of a presentation by iCabbi, I had managed to tick off everything we wanted and even added a few things we didn’t even think were possible.
Quality Yes, With The Right Price
Investing in new technology can be expensive but we were very confident that iCabbi could help us reduce our operating costs, our decision was also made easier when we factored in the savings on hardware etc. Once we learned how to utilize the tools properly and invest in marketing the capabilities the new platform offered, the likely return on the investment is only a matter of time.
Our Experience Since go-live
We had pretty high expectations, but the DiSC cloud telecom system has probably been the biggest surprise of all, combined with the app, we are achieving more than 30% automation. Before iCabbi, we weren’t even at 1% automation and our average on hold time has dropped from 33 seconds to 8 seconds.
After going live, we quickly realised we were working with people who understand that change is part of growth, and innovation waits for no one. But we can now say with confidence that we have the tools we need to be the best in the industry. We submit ideas through the user portal, which are then discussed and voted on by other companies, the best part is that not only we are being listened to, but feedback from others may improve on the idea, and we all play our part in bringing innovation to the taxicab industry.
The next big thing for us will be the introduction of Google Maps. We are in an age of information and information is king. Empowering owners, drivers and passengers will transform our business. In fact this discussion has got us thinking and feel a whole new list of ideas are about to be uploaded to the user portal!