We always love hearing from Grasshopper customers, especially when they have a great story about how we helped make their lives easier and their business stronger. Such is the case for Destin Vacation Boat Rentals. Read below to learn more about how Grasshopper helped Heather Thomas, owner of Destin Vacation Boat Rentals, streamline her unique business needs.

“...our business has more than doubled in just two years... We have also been able to control costs while growing our business by being able to expand without having to rent extra space to house a call center.” - Heather Thomas, Destin Vacation Boat Rentals

Tell us about your business.

We are a husband-and-wife-owned small business working in the watersports industry. Our business, Destin Vacation Boat Rentals is, as you might expect by the name, a boat and watersports equipment rental agency located in Destin, Florida. We specialize in providing Destin-area visitors with boat rentals and tours to one of Florida’s most popular natural attractions: Crab Island.

What sort of issues did you face with your previous phone carrier and what impact did that have on your business?

Working in a seasonal, tourism-driven environment can be challenging. We experience extremely high call volume from March-October, and very low call volume the remainder of the year. Our landline in our office had to be forwarded to one of our mobile phones when we were not physically in the office, and if we were on a line with one customer, we would miss other incoming calls. When we didn’t answer, would-be customers would call our competitors, so we were actually losing business by missing calls. We knew we had to make a change.

What alternatives did you look into to find a solution?

We were looking for a solution that offered the ability to have multiple lines so that calls could roll over to the next available person to prevent losing customers. We experienced severe sticker shock when we contacted our local phone service provider, who wanted us to purchase and install an expensive phone system and then commit to a two-year contract for hundreds of dollars a month, even when we were closed during the off-season and had little need for their system.

We also looked into hiring a virtual call center with virtual employees who would answer our calls for us, but this turned out to be even more expensive than our local phone company, plus we were concerned that they wouldn’t take care of our customers the way we would, or that potential customers wouldn’t be able to get answers from virtual employees that didn’t actually know our business.

How did you find out about Grasshopper?

My husband heard a radio advertisement for Grasshopper and told me about it, so we started doing some research. I was intrigued with the idea of having an entire phone system online, without the expensive equipment. Plus, the price was hard to beat! We must have read the entire Grasshopper website and watched all of the videos. We then called Grasshopper (twice, I think) with lots of questions, and they answered them all and put our fears to rest. We decided to give it a trial run: we got a temporary Grasshopper number and forwarded our landline to that for one month to see how it worked.

How was the trial run and implementation for you?

The temporary number worked great! We were concerned about call quality and other issues that are typically associated with VoIP services, but the calls sounded no different than our regular phone line. The online tutorials were helpful and allowed us to setup our vacation-themed hold music and voicemail fairly quickly even though I’m not very technically-inclined.

After that month, we were sold. We applied to have our business number transferred to Grasshopper and kept our landline forwarded to the temporary number until that happened. I was concerned about downtime during the transfer, but when it actually happened, it was so seamless that I didn’t even notice!

What have been your ultimate results from working with Grasshopper?

Switching to Grasshopper was a huge turning point for our business. We were able to add additional sales agents to answer the phones during our busy season, which led to more bookings, and to increased sales. Increased sales allowed us to add inventory, so the growth cycle continued. In fact, our business has more than doubled in just two years, and we are planning to add even more sales agents next year. We have also been able to control costs while growing our business by being able to expand without having to rent extra space to house a call center (and the expensive equipment that goes with it), since our agents can work from literally anywhere that they have access to a phone.

Do you have any favorite features?

There are a lot of features that we enjoy, and I know we haven’t even taken advantage of every feature available. Grasshopper is extremely customizable, and I think we’ve found what works best for us, but it’s nice to know we have other options available if we want to change things up in the future. For now, our “on hold music” has actually been very popular with our customers. Sometimes we pick up to find customers singing along, so that’s really funny and can be a great ice breaker.

We added voicemail transcription to our plan, and that has been a big time saver because it’s easier to skim text than to play each message individually for us. Plus, having the voicemails emailed to me is a great way to keep tabs on call volume and to make sure calls are being answered by employees who are working remotely.

As a seasonal business, I love that we can adjust our plan at any time. During the summer, we do the largest package available, the Max plan, with 10,000 minutes. Then, in the off-season, we drop down to the Grow plan with 2,000 minutes, so we aren’t paying for a plan that we don’t need when business is slow. This keeps the system affordable for us, and helps us to balance out the couple of months when we exceed our 10,000 minutes.

We also love that we can turn any employee’s phone on or off at any time, from anywhere, with the Grasshopper app, which helps us to manage times of higher call volume so we don’t miss calls.

Do you have any tips you could offer others who are involved in the process or looking for a similar solution?

I can’t imagine running our business without Grasshopper. I was so worried about trying something that seemed a little unconventional, but in hindsight I wish we had tried it sooner. My advice would be to just go for it!

To learn more about Destin Vacation Boat Rentals, visit www.destinvacationboatrentals.com.

Go for it today! Sign up for a free 7-day trial of Grasshopper any day in November and be entered to win a free year of Grasshopper! And don't forget to celebrate Small Business Saturday® on November 30!