This is the second and final part of the interview with Mr Anthony Marett the founder of DTE. If you haven’t read it yet you can read the 1st part by starting here.
About the system integration with the fleet management systems.
JS: How long did it took you to convince the fleet management systems to connect their software to DTE?
AM: 2 years, it wasn’t until we won the coveted UK Coach operator innovation of the year award that we got the kudos (credibility) to approach them
JS: Who was the 1st you convinced?
AM: Distinctive Systems
JS: How is your relation with them?
AM: Poor, they have stolen our ideas and terminology and released a product called ‘Connect’. We think it is doomed to failure as they only have 300 operators and are doing today what we were doing 5 years ago. I hope that doesn’t sound like sour grapes. I firmly believe there can only be one portal such as DTE. I am not saying it will be DTE but there can only be one. A concept like DTE will not work with 4 or 5 different systems because what might match from one systems member to another systems member will be lost as they are on two separate systems. It will only work en mass by uniting every coach and mini bus operator.
JS: What was the biggest learning from starting with DTE?
AM: Don’t do it, seriously
JS: This sounds a bit negative from such a positive entrepreneur ;-). Did nothing good came out?
AM: It does sound negative but I would counter that most entrepreneurs, when pushed, would agree with me (not all but most) I think naivety plays a big part in starting any business. If you genuinely knew what was ahead of you, you wouldn’t do it. The beauty of being a positive thinker is that you are unaware of what is ahead of you, have complete faith in your own ability and plough on regardless. The minute DTE is successful and doesn’t need me anymore I will go and start another business based on complete and utter naivety of what I am letting myself in for. That’s half the fun.
JS: What would you do different today if you would have known that before?
AM: I wouldn’t have done it
JS: Why not? The system looks to work fine now. Can you explain more?
AM: Personally, again, like most entrepreneurs, my motivation is not money. My motivation is success, I refuse to fail and a byproduct of success in business happens to be money (which is very nice thank you). However, as you get older you begin to realize that life is also about other important things as well and with DTE it is all consuming, every minute of every hour of every day of every week. I am driven to achieve what I set out to and will not settle for anything less.
About the services DTE is offering and how they are perceived by the coach operators
JS: Who is using the DTE product on a day-to-day basis is that the owner, the traffic manager or the secretary/sales assistant?
AM: A combination of all of them
JS: When offering a software or online product statistics say that most users tend to only use 10% of the available options. Does that happens also with DTE?
AM: At present yes but we are releasing the DTE Coach Records Module (CRM) which is an inbuilt mini coach management system
JS: So do you offer any service or training to the users of the bus rental companies?
AM: Yes, mainly telephone tuition but we do have a customer service man who visits
JS: We understood that you have 2 types of subscriptions for bus companies : a free one and a paid one, correct?
JS: Can you tell us the main difference between the 2?
AM: Paid one gets full cover with the DTE Passenger Recovery service, 24 hour crisis control, full access to all contact details, priority alerts on all jobs coming onto DTE and free use of the new DTE CRM
JS: Is there a risk of paid subscriptions dropping out? How many did drop out? How many do re-new the paid subscription?
AM: Less than 5% drop out
JS: Did you ever ask the bus operators why they are using the DTE system? And what they see is the best benefit?
AM: At present members mainly sign up for the protection of the Passenger Recovery System, we hope to change that with the CRM
JS: In our operation with Rentautobus in Spain we have discovered that although they operate in a touristic market most coach hire company owners are not used to use internet software. Did you encounter the same issue in the UK?
AM: God yes, this is a big issue BUT this wasn’t the case somebody would have done DTE already
JS: If so how do you deal with it?
AM: Education, education, education
JS: Do you have any competitors who are offering similar or related services?
AM: Distinctive Systems, Trip Filler, Voydevaccio. When a good idea comes along there will always be people trying to copy you. Our competitors are all 3 or 4 years behind us, they are where we were in 2009 and we will stay ahead of them
JS: Did you ever consider offering the same or a related service to taxi companies or maybe transporters of goods/merchandise?
AM: Yes, taxis, airplanes and even the haulage sector eventually. DTE is the only automated “matching” system which can be transposed to any logistics sector. All other sites are purely listings sites
About the future of DTE and the bus and coach operators network
JS: Do you plan to offer any new products/services or functionalities in DTE?
AM: Yes, the CRM and something so big it will revolutionize coaching forever.
JS: Can you tell us about them?
AM: Not the big one no
JS: Sounds very exiting! Will DTE charge extra fees to the bus operators who want to enjoy those features?
JS: What are your short term goals with DTE?
AM: Having 300 bus operators using our CRM product
JS: The CRM product sounds very interesting: is it OK for you if we contact you again in the near future to discuss it into more detail?
AM: I insist on it
JS: What is your long term goal with DTE?
AM: Worldwide use
JS: When do you plan to achieve it?
No idea, as long as it takes
JS: OK, so how do you plan to achieve it?
AM: Keep doing what we do best, offer a great service at a great price and not let anybody down
AM: Simply go to Don’t Travel Empty sign up and start using it. The CRM is compatible with Europe
JS: Well OK that’s enough information for me for today. Thanks you very much for answering all those questions.
AM: Your are welcome!