From termly toil to complete control: Flagfinders’ home-to-school travel transformation

From termly toil to complete control: Flagfinders’ home-to-school travel transformation

This successful family-run coach company revolutionised its admin and mastered its payments and passenger numbers, saving two days' work a week.

40%weekly admin saved
190,000journeys protected annually

About Flagfinders Coach Hire

Flagfinders is a family-run coach company based in Braintree in Essex. Established in 1976, it operates a well-maintained fleet and a wide range of transport solutions, including home-to-school travel.

Pride of Essex

Flagfinders is a company that prides itself on things running smoothly. With a suite of workshops to keep its fleet in tip-top condition, Flagfinders delivers a reliable service and fantastic safety record. It’s little wonder the business is in high demand.

Flagfinders teamThe Flagfinders team: Wendy, Lesley and Trish

A bus pass system caught in the slow lane

Whilst the business was a runaway success, Flagfinders’ school bus admin was one area struggling to stay up to speed.

As their home-to-school transport services grew, admin duo Wendy and Trish saw increasingly large chunks of their time (and paper!) consumed. The trail would begin when parents were issued with new bus pass application forms. Payment would be made by BACS or card payments taken over the phone. One-by-one, the forms and payments had to be matched and compiled onto a spreadsheet before passes could be printed and distributed. The constant calls and emails left little time for any other work, as Flagfinders’ director Lesley Cook-Leyden witnessed.

“It was such hard work,” said Lesley.

To use their time effectively, Wendy and Trish printed bus passes termly. But with infrequent use, the printing machine often didn’t work, making it a laborious task.

Pulling a fast one

Once printed, bus passes were distributed via schools. But parents would ring Flagfinders, advising they hadn’t received theirs. Whilst a new pass could be issued, there was no way to retrieve or cancel the original, leaving every possibility that somebody somewhere was getting a free ride.

In pursuit of payment

Keeping track of payments proved difficult too. Between them, Wendy and Trish would check incoming payments against their spreadsheets. Wendy explained, “A lot of parents made one-off payments instead of setting up standing orders, so when the first regular payment was due, we were forever phoning and leaving messages to remind them to make the payment. Every month we could spend a couple of days just chasing debts.”

Flagfinders fleet

Time to regain control

With 500+ passengers and the new academic year approaching, Flagfinders saw another mountain of work looming. In addition, Lesley wanted a better grasp on who was travelling on each service. She knew her drivers couldn’t memorise every pass as children boarded, or indeed catch students handing passes out through the windows to their friends. With the added problems of navigating Covid lockdowns, Lesley was ready to try something different.

“We had to start working smarter, not harder,” said Lesley.

More organised

Lesley contacted ShuttleID and an online demo was arranged quickly with ShuttleID director, Emma Bell.

Emma explained how Flagfinders’ home-to-school travel could become more organised and structured, helping them to regain control and reduce costly administration time and effort.

It was soon clear that ShuttleID could make a huge difference almost overnight. With Emma and husband Chris at the end of the phone, Flagfinders soon had all their passes listed for sale online. Using both the card and direct debit options meant that the transition was super-easy for parents too. In fact, parents could now purchase passes 24/7, whether they were at home or on their lunch break – and all without having to contact Flagfinders or the school.

Working smarter

Initially, parents questioned how long the ticket QR codes would take to come through. But they were happily surprised to see them land in their email instantly after purchase, ready for sharing to their child’s phone for immediate use.

Wendy and Trish, who both have experience in the banking sector, were thrilled by how much information the system provides, especially with regards to payments. They now have a complete handle on the direct debits and, conveniently, any failed payments are flagged.

What’s interesting is Flagfinders saw parents respond better to the direct debit ticket option. Wendy said, “Rather than constantly having to chase payments, we found only a few direct debits unpaid – but for genuine reasons. We've got way more control.”

Student using QR code

Better for drivers

Drivers have since reported that scanning the ShuttleID QR Codes means the boarding process stays more orderly, as children no longer rush on to the bus together. Wendy said, “The students look after their phones a lot better than they looked after their passes, but the option to print the pass is a really good backup.”

Another satisfied customer

When thinking back to previous years, during July and August, the Flagfinders team would be on the phone constantly dealing with passes. Now with ShuttleID, they estimate they are saving a couple of days a week easily.

Lesley and her team are ready for when the schools return each September and the fear of parents phoning up for last-minute tickets has gone. The team simply emails a ticket link, and a student can travel the same day. Lesley is completely assured of the number of tickets in circulation, and the school is happy to be relieved of dishing out passes.

Following the success of the system this year, Flagfinders will now be using it to manage their local authority student passes. Lesley and her team are relieved to finally get rid of their dreaded ticket printing machine!

“ShuttleID makes Flagfinders more efficient and certainly raises our profile,” said Trish.

Contact us to find out how we can help

Request more info

Want to learn more?
Request an information pack

Request info


Call us on 0333 344 9868 and speak with a specialist to answer all your questions

Get in touch

Book a demo

Schedule a demo and discuss your specific needs

Book a demo