National Trails Continues Growth, Streamlines Charters with busHive

Since taking new ownership in 2019 with nine drivers, one office employee, and one mechanic, Michigan-based charter and tour company, National Trails, has seen tremendous growth. In the last three years alone, the company has more than tripled the number of employees, doubled its school bus fleet and increased its motorcoach fleet size by 15.

“During this period of rapid growth, we have been incredibly reliant on our software,” said Austin Arksey, owner of National Trails. “If we didn’t have software like busHive, we would not have been able to scale as easily and as efficiently as we have.”
According to Arksey, when he purchased National Trails in 2019, charters were managed via handwritten or typewritten messages being physically handed to drivers. One of the first initiatives the company undertook was digitizing these many processes, and that meant migrating the manual charter-booking into busHive.
busHive provides cloud-based software to streamline workflows and recordkeeping across the entire charter process – from the initial quote to confirmations, contracts, generating driver itineraries, billing, and invoicing. National Trails uses the software to manage its sales, billing, and payroll – with reporting that shows revenue per vehicle, profit/loss analysis, and other important benchmarking tools.
“As we are continuing to add additional fleet, busHive has been very instrumental in giving us the keys to have visibility to being able to see our trips on a daily, weekly, monthly, even annual basis as well,” Arksey said. “It has been very helpful to have solid software in place as we continue to grow.”
However, rapid scalability often comes with its own set of challenges as National Trails well knows. With the accelerated addition of employees, Arksey said that ensuring new hires are fully trained and brought up to speed on how the company functions and operates has been one of the biggest challenges thus far.
“As we’ve been hiring people, some of the things that we look at are people’s adaptability, are they quick learners, especially when it comes to working with software and technology,” Arksey said. “We are not looking at people that can solve and handle the challenges that we have just today, that can help us solve the challenges we have tomorrow and beyond.”

Arksey said that busHive has been instrumental in helping National Trails keep track of driver credentials and expiring licenses. The driver management tool has also enabled the company to maintain certifications without having any lapse in downtime for drivers.
With the influx of new coaches and new business, preventive maintenance (PM) is always a primary concern. With more buses in the fleet, National Trails has continued to prioritize preventative maintenance on all its equipment. All work orders are loaded into busHive, allowing the company to ensure that PM orders process correctly and that inventory is properly maintained.
“With the busHive software, we transitioned our techs from doing work orders on paper to doing them on tablets so we could reduce the amount of time that it took for those work orders to get into our system and have quicker visibility to be able to make decisions on equipment,” Arksey said. “Our downtime was reduced, and we were able to better manage, monitor and maintain our preventative maintenance schedules.”
Arksey said he and his team feel extremely comfortable utilizing the busHive charter system as National Trails continues to grow, citing the great support network which the company provides.
“The busHive team has been great,” Arksey said. “In the many years we have been working with busHive we have not faced any outages. Anytime we have suggestions their team is always receptive to changes and interested in learning about new ideas. It has been a great partnership and experience.”