Lone Star Coaches is a successful motorcoach charter service providing local and long-distance services with its 40- and 56-passenger fleets for a variety of travel rental needs, serving school athletic and music departments, church camps, senior trips and corporate events. Founded in 1979, the Dallas-Ft. Worth-based company strives to provide passengers with a safe experience through intensive training of all its drivers. It also puts a priority on giving customers a reliable and luxury experience by only using premier motorcoaches.
For nearly five years, Lone Star Coaches’ drivers have used CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Cards for their lodging, parking and fuel expenses. These reloadable prepaid Visa® cards are offered through Commerce Bank, a 155-year-old financial services organization headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, with approximately $33 billion in assets.
Lone Star Coaches shifted its expense process from cash to prepaid expense cards because of several benefits the cards offer to the company and its drivers, such as:
• simplifying reconciliation
• increasing efficiency and
• distributing expenses in real-time
“Our cash system had a lot of challenges and the prepaid expense cards from Commerce Bank solved those,” said Homer Pickles, office manager/accounting administrator for Lone Star Coaches. “Once we decided to make the switch, it was a very easy transition. We were up and running within a month.”
Reconciling Expenses Without Paper Receipts
Prior to implementing the CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Cards, drivers paid for lodging, fuel and parking with cash or their own credit cards and then provided receipts to Pickles for reimbursement. Since drivers are focused on safety and customer service, they do not always keep track of receipts, and with up to 45 drivers on the road nearly every week of the year, that’s a lot of paperwork for Pickles to track down and reconcile.
However, prepaid expense cards have automated that process. Now, drivers do not have to keep track of cash and receipts because they can pay for their trip expenses with their prepaid cards. When drivers complete a trip, Pickles can easily view transactions online and reconcile charges for that charter. He can also unload unused funds from any cards.
Automating Process Leads to Efficiency
By automating drivers’ expenses, Pickles has increased his efficiency — a valuable benefit for someone who manages all the accounting, payroll and driver-certification functions for Lone Star Coaches.
Preparing cash-expense allocations prior to trips coupled with post-charter reconciliation used to take Pickles about 25 hours each month. He now estimates those processes take four hours a month.
“In a matter of minutes, I can quickly upload funds to drivers’ cards on a portal,” said Pickles. “When the drivers finish a trip, I don’t have to spend hours, days or weeks tracking down receipts and reconciling charter charges.”
Benefiting From Real-Time Access to Expense Funds
The ability to provide drivers with funds in real time is another advantage that comes with using the CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Cards. In the event a driver’s charter gets extended due to weather or another unforeseen circumstance, Pickles has the flexibility to upload more funds to the card so the driver can pay for additional expenses.
In one instance, this feature enabled Lone Star Coaches to provide emergency transportation to stranded passengers of disrupted train service. Pickles logged in while on vacation and instantaneously uploaded funds to drivers’ prepaid expense cards. This enabled the Lone Star Coaches’ drivers to immediately get on the road, knowing they had access to funds to cover their expenses.
“In this instance, if we’d needed to get cash to our drivers, it would have delayed them getting to those passengers,” said Pickles. “With the automation of the prepaid expense cards, we could immediately dispatch our drivers.”
Pickles is quick to credit the success of the prepaid expense program to the exceptional customer service Commerce Bank provides.
“If I have an issue, I know my representatives and they know me and my program,” said Pickles. “They are always just a phone call or email away.”