Graphic by Orion Software
Orion Software 2020 Set Up8

Interview with Orion Software’s Patrice Boivin: The Market is Evolving Quickly

July 25, 2020
Patrice Boivin, CEO, Orion Software, talks with RER about Orion’s new web portal, its real time dispatch module, complete online transactions, getting real-time details to sales staff and more.

Patrice Boivin, CEO, Orion Software, talks with RER about Orion’s new web portal, its real time dispatch module, complete online transactions, getting real-time details to sales staff and more.

RER: What are some of the products and capabilities you have added in the past year approximately?

Boivin: We introduced a very simple web portal that can be set up in less than two hours. In a period of social distancing like in normal times, offering a transactional web cart to your customers is definitely a must to grow your business. The problem that is often mentioned by rental companies is: “Where do we start? We don’t have the expertise and we don’t want to offer something that we can’t control.”

That’s how we came up with our web portal. Users don’t need to be expert in web design or online shopping carts. All they need to do is very simple. It’s all in the same Sirius e platform that they use every day. The branding, the image and text on the portal is all controlled within Sirius e. Users can decide which items they want to offer, add the specifications and there you go: a complete customer portal! They can add a link in their own website or offer the mobile app and suddenly, they have a transactional website! All this setup is free. Customers pay only per transaction.

What are customers asking you for now, or what are some of the trends in what they’re asking for? 

Rental companies are looking at a solution for dispatching delivery trucks efficiently. So far, the generic solutions from other industries are not generating the expected results. The main thing about dispatch in the rental market that you need to know is that it is really unique. There is no other business that delivers and picks up equipment back and forth in a continually changing schedule like in rental. When we first attacked these complex logistic problems, we made sure that we understood deeply the way rental dispatch is done. The very nature of dispatching is controlling many trucks on a map in real time but in rental, it’s all about managing a constantly changing schedule. That’s where Sirius e comes. It is complete visibility with three dimensions: the map, the calendar and the time, complemented with tools to help predict the delivery time.

Our success with the dispatch module has way exceeded our expectations. Many companies tried solutions from other industries and failed. Sirius e is tuned exactly for the rental market because it’s directly connected to the trucks, the reservations and the maintenance that all have an impact on the capability to deliver on time. For example, we continually reassess the time to deliver to inform customers of the expected delivery time in order to avoid customers waiting. We prioritize the deliveries and schedule the returns in a timely fashion. When things get tight, the dispatch closes for that period to avoid commitments that can’t be met.

Obviously different customers adopt new technologies at different paces, some faster than others, and companies have different priorities. But, in general, what are some the capabilities of your software that are under-utilized that you wish more companies would pick up on?

It’s definitely the web portal. The market is evolving quickly. We see many construction companies implementing complete web portals to order, request for off-rent or repair. They are more innovative than the rental companies that fear the eCommerce. When your customers are more advanced, it’s time to adopt the new technologies. 

A lot of things have changed in the world because of the pandemic. What has changed in the rental industry, and how has your approach to software changed? Greater emphasis in e-commerce capabilities? Other changes? 

With our web portal, we encourage customers to do transactions completely without face-to-face interaction. Any customer that has Sirius e has a Web portal and it can be set up easily to respond to the new needs. For instance, we encourage customers to post on their door and website to download our mobile app to order online. Rental companies should not hesitate to open their web portal with features such as request for an off-rent or request for an onsite maintenance. In Sirius e, as soon as it’s received, the dispatch is initiated with alerts. Then, Sirius e automatically sends an email to confirm the expected time of arrival of a pick-up or a technician.

This is a very good way to develop this trust factor that will differentiate your business from other brick and mortar and that will get your customers attached and develop brand loyalty. You should also offer online payment of outstanding invoices and reporting. Your customers will appreciate that with your company they can control their costs and might give you more business for that reason. When they deal with paper from various people renting equipment, it’s hard to keep track of what they pay. 

In terms of the pandemic, presumably visits to your software users have decreased. Have you improved or enhanced your online training capabilities?

We had to be creative with more remote meetings than customers would like. But for Orion Software, it’s part of our DNA to work remotely. All our business is in the cloud and even our office remained in lockdown for two months without much of an impact.

How has your software improved in making service personnel more efficient?

We already use exclusively cloud solutions to run our business. For our customers, we developed new mass mailing integrated within Sirius e to send invites to join the web portal and do business online.

How has your CRM programs improved? How does it make your sales or rental sales personnel more efficient or productive?

Our CRM continues to evolve as we increased the number of users by 10 times within a year. Customers are essentially asking features to better manage opportunities around projects or construction sites. They continue to insist on getting more details of real time to the salesmen about availability. 

How about service and delivery?

Rental companies are more interested than ever to get a full ERP instead of an integrated solution. They want to get profitability at many different levels such as the service profitability and the maintenance. They want the complementary services to be as profitable as rental. For that, they need to be able to drill down and get full access to the timesheets or delivery details.

To improve customer service, they are looking at mimicking Amazon’s delivery method where item availability is published online, the delivery time is updated when the equipment is scheduled and then again along the way up to the final arrival time. Their own customers are asking to get updated in real time.