United Road Towing doesn’t bat an eye at hauling 100,000 pounds of equipment or recovering off-road vehicles, yet the company hit numerous roadblocks when moving its internal documents. Expensive storage costs and high-volume paper processes impounded the company’s regional operations in Phoenix, AZ with time-consuming, inefficient content management.
The company faced four major challenges:
- Storage: Lack of space in the office for filing cabinets cost the company $650 a month to rent storage sheds. Temperatures inside the sheds often topped 110 degrees, degrading documents and discouraging retrieval by accounting employees.
- Decentralized Files: Every vehicle tow resulted in the creation of documents by multiple departments, each with their own filing methods—which meant accounting employees had to contact at least three departments to complete a vehicle file. From gathering vehicle photos from the sales department and inspections from the vehicle storage facility to tracking down titles in the title department, staff spent more time searching than billing.
- Security: Transferring files among departments compromised security and led to a proliferation of outdated copies.
- Customer Service: Spread-out storage and misfiled contracts made it difficult to deliver towing contracts to customers by 2:00 p.m. on the day following a tow, as outlined in vendor contracts.
“The vehicle could sometimes be moved to another storage or auction facility, and sometimes the files would not get to the new vehicle storage location,” notes Sheila Gallegos, project manager at United Road Towing.
The company put out a request for proposals for an enterprise content management (ECM) product that could:
- Quickly and easily scan documents.
- Read vehicle barcodes and file documents with minimal human effort.
- Perform quality checks on barcoded scans.
After reviewing RFP responses, United Road Towing saw that Laserfiche could easily set a company-wide standard to transition it away from inefficient paper-based processes.
“Laserfiche was the easiest to understand and the most user-friendly by far. Quick Fields and Workflow sessions were doing most the work, instead of our staff,” says Gallegos. “Most importantly, Laserfiche was an enterprise software solution, whereas the other vendors had to piece together other products to create the solution we were looking for.”
Gallegos led a three-month installation and in-depth training process which brought 73 employees in seven departments and seven locations—as well as 23 vendors—onto the Laserfiche system.
“Laserfiche has helped us streamline our processes, and it also helps us make sure that the processes are standardized from location to location,” she says.
Giving the Green Light to Better Records Management
The first step for United Road Towing was standardizing the documentation process from the time a vehicle hitches to a tow truck to when it leaves the tow lot—which brought immediate improvements in customer service and employee efficiency.
A custom integration between Quick Fields, Workflow and the company’s towing software now takes data from vehicle barcodes, driver invoices and customer-submitted documents across many departments for cradle-to-grave records management.
Because the towing software doesn’t contain an open database, the company worked with Laserfiche to create a custom Workflow script with an HTTP post. The script automatically pulls information from the towing software to fill in additional data in Quick Fields.
As outlined below, records management is now much simpler and more consistent:
- When the company tows a vehicle, the truck driver places a barcode sticker on the vehicle to identify it in the vehicle inventory and places a barcode sheet in the storage reports.
- Storage facility staff scans the barcode sheets into Laserfiche.
- Quick Fields reads the barcodes, places the inventory number into a field and saves the storage report in the Laserfiche repository.
- The custom Workflow script runs a session that searches the towing database using the barcode. Quick Fields then fills in additional template fields with retrieved information about the vehicle, such as the vehicle’s make, model, year and VIN number, as well as customer information and invoice and payment dates.
- When all fields are complete, the Workflow session electronically files the documents by tow date.
With the automated system, the average user can process five documents a minute. Each day, the company as a whole can easily process 1,500 customer documents and 500 driver invoices.
WebLink Revs Up Customer Service
The integration has also improved the availability of customer documents within the contractual one-day grace period. Prior to Laserfiche, one employee would collect 200 documents a day from the accounting department, scan the documents into a network folder, rename all the documents, move the documents to an FTP folder and then make the documents available to customers on a Website in PDF form. This time-intensive process often resulted in late documents and $75 in vendor fines for each delayed delivery.
With Laserfiche WebLink, an automated process ensures that customers can view documents on the same day of the tow—many hours before the deadline.
- When a towed vehicle is added to the storage inventory, storage facility employees scan documents from the drivers along with customer-supplied paperwork like driver licenses into a network folder.
- From the network folder, Quick Fields brings the documents into the Laserfiche repository and identifies the documents by reading their barcodes.
- The custom Workflow session retrieves the vehicle information from the towing software using the barcodes, and Quick Fields completes the template fields.
- The accounting office then e-mails digital invoice copies to customers.
- Quick Fields files the documents and automatically makes relevant documents, such as storage reports, driver licenses, private party impounds and pre-tow pictures of the vehicles, available for customers via WebLink.
- Customers can view the files related to their tow with an assigned, secure login.
This fast flow of information empowers United Road Towing as well as the customer. The customer may view the document on the same day as the tow, and United Road Towing now:
- Saves half a pallet of paper (50 boxes) per month.
- Eliminates $650 a month in off-site storage costs.
- No longer needs to train storage employees on a formerly laborious customer service process.
“In the past, a dedicated staff person spent eight hours completing this process. Now, it only takes 30 minutes to verify all the documents that were scanned,” says Gallegos.
Overhauled Processes Bring Big Benefits
United Road Towing counts centralized data as the most basic gain from Laserfiche, which has completely eliminated the company’s reliance on a carrier to move documents from remote sites to the main office.
The rewards multiply when it comes to customer satisfaction. “Now anyone who answers the phone can answer inquiries about the status of a vehicle by doing a simple search in Laserfiche,” notes Gallegos. “We used to have to transfer calls to the storage lot where the vehicle was stored.”
The company’s five storage facilities follow the same procedures, but the company can shift tasks around depending on the available employees and their skill levels. For example, when a customer calls requesting paperwork from their insurance company to release the vehicle to a body shop or the police department inquires after proof of ownership forms, dispatch staff can now look up the related information in Laserfiche instead of relying on lot staff.
More employees can be cross-trained to complete work in multiple departments. Whenever the staff has downtime, employees input and check metadata in Laserfiche from any documents that don’t include barcodes. Recently, the company even changed its file clerk positions into quality assurance roles.
With Audit Trail, Gallegos can run a report that outlines which employees have accessed certain documents. Every month, she uses the report to check productivity and conduct any back-training
for employees based on their efficiency.
United Road Towing is close to completing an expansion to the corporate office in Illinois. Instead of spending money on overnight mailing costs, the company will now digitally send Department of Transportation documents to corporate employees via WebLink.
Other plans for growing United Road Towing’s Laserfiche system include:
- Using the Laserfiche Mobile iPad app to digitize the signed agreement binders that tow drivers currently carry in paper form. Capturing and storing the most current authorization forms will ensure that drivers remain in compliance with local regulations.
- Working with municipalities to write laws that standardize the authorizations needed to tow a vehicle and giving cities access to signed agreements via WebLink.
- Expanding the Laserfiche system to 11 additional sites to further standardize procedures and bring cradle-to-grave records management to the rest of the company.
“Laserfiche has helped to ensure that processes are consistent throughout the company while allowing us to improve processes and gain efficiencies,” Gallegos says. “It’s one of the best investments we’ve ever made.”