How many dealerships
stay open 24/7?
Review deals, schedule test drives, generate leads. And plenty more.
I helped redesign the Carflow admin area 5 years ago, in Anvers, Belgium.
Your dealership. Digital!
the team & my role
Carflow Manager is the administration component of the product. It’s actually where the magic happens for dealrs across
Sometimes you don't need a one hour meeting or a scheduled 30 min Zoom call when a short call would suffice. But time is valuable, so why not charge for it?
The only solution for billing your customers for consulting, training or advice via GSM phone calls. Join Minutizer, get the app and start charging for your time!
Carflow is a web application that allows hundreds of dealeships across Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg to manage, coordinate and promote their inventory.
Diagnosing a problem or just parting advice via phone is ubiquitous. They help expert consultants get paid.
Being around since 2013, they managed to expand their tech on 3 markets.
They empower teachers, lawyers, coaches, psychotherapists, experts, trainers to charge for their consulting sessions via Skype and lately, Discord.
what are we trying to do here?
for the business
Testing a new service that would allow Minutizer to expand their offering. In line with the brand vision, navigating a blue ocean for now and trying to get the necessary intel to develop a sustainable new revenue stream.
for the customers
Make it easier for current customers to charge for the extra time spend with clients offering services via phone. Allowing others to offer more by consulting or entertaining using their voice.
As a consultant I want to be able to monetize the time I spend with my clients. Doing it via phone comes more natural to 30+ yr old customers that haven’t made yet a solid connection with Skype.
While travelling to conferrences across Europe and US, clients and partners suggested that an expansion of Minutizer’s services into phone call charging would be highly welcomed. It was in line with Minutizer’s plans.
The Pay Per Minute app, mainly an MVP, would help us evaluate with low costs this opportunity and determine whether it makes sense to invest into a larger scale solution that requires ongoing maintenance and dedicated support resources.
This translated into developing an Android app that would be able to track the duration of incoming calls from specific phone numbers while chargin would be handled by the already existing backend.
There was an opportunity on the market that needed to be qualified. Launching a new service would lead to a new revenue stream but being the first on a relatively new market for a pretty young startup is not easy.
There was no existing market at the time for such a service. The benefit was sailing on a pretty blue ocean, but being pioneers meant we had plenty of hurdles ahead.
U.S.A. had the infrastructure that allowed a similar service function but available only on their market. There wasn’t much that could inspire us beyond the communication approach, which rarely fits the european culture.
While the roaming costs went down and it made sense to use it to our advantage, not many were aware that they were low enough to encourage consulting across borders.
This was my first collaboration as a freelance consultant with a remote development team and the first time a client would trust me to lead the efforts as a Project Manager.
the design timeline
Why are we doing this?
My collaboration with Minutizer spread across 3 years, I was familiar with their product. But this was a new market.
I began with individual interviews with the CEO and CTO to gather the vision and expectations regarding the product and make sure it’s feasible from a tech perspective.
What you could find in the app store were apps that had a built in VoIP service that could be used as a reference for charging.
User research was informed by support requests gathered by the customer experience team and informal live chats at two of the events that I attended, together with the marketing team.
So who were we going to serve?
The original assumption went towards those that were not currently charging for the consulting done via phone. But it turns out that those that were already doing it, albeit in a less precise manner were the ones that would give our solution a solid shot.
As mentioned above, this was a blue ocean: no solid competition in sight.
How will we do it?
The app was not going to be actively promoted. Only a couple of hundreds of users would use it, a very small percent of Minutizer’s pool of clients.
Our intent was to get as much intel as we could about user’s needs, expectations, use cases and behaviors. We could not have done that without an actual product.
The smartphone client would connect to the service via a dedicated API, and when triggered by an incoming call would search the caller in our database to validate it’s standing in the system: is it a member, does it have enough funds?
Since we were aligned, I came back with a set of flows meant to cover the various scenarios we wanted the app to offer.
Also connected with the CTO and made sure the API accounted for connections from Android clients.
What should we deliver?
After three iterations we clarified the basic flows and set of features we would provide the users with, and I proceeded with sketching the wireframes for the main screens of the application. There were plenty of questions to answer. Browsing Google Play, seeking similar apps that allow call duration tracking did not yield encouraging results.
Thus, finding a developer willing to take on the challenge of logging calls on Android was not easy. Trying to minimize costs led us to consider enlisting the services of a freelance developer. There were 3 weeks with no visible progress. We had to move the needle, so we went back to looking for a better solution and an increased budget.
After weeks of searching, the negotiations with a brave development company were completed and I went ahead and shared the specifications that were solid, up to that point. We had a kickoff meeting and agreed on a development calendar. The initial estimate meant that the app would be ready to launch within 3 months.
They started developing a skeleton for the app based on the wireframes and also the research regarding hooking onto incoming and outgoing phone calls in order to log them and track their duration. Having received validation from all the stakeholders (now including a tech representative from the developer) I proceeded with the visual design of the interface.
Does it work?
I remained in the project to oversee the implementation of the app and also acted as a second layer of QA, on behalf of my client. Managing a project with technical conundrums is not a comfortable role. It wasn’t easy to to balance expectations and patience to reach the end.
Towards the end of the fall we published the first stable RC (release candidate) and in December, after ~6 weeks of iterations we had a solution that covered most of our initial goals.
A group of 10 beta testers were the core source for feedback and input on how to improve both the application and the service on the whole.
what we brought to life
still curious, eh?
but keep in mind it’s not a supported product.