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About Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike Rental

Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike has been a gateway for adventure-seekers since 1992. Canoeing along Minnesota’s Cannon Valley Trail started out as a hobby for William Lacefield, who turned his favorite pastime into a second career when he retired 25 years ago. The business started small with six canoes and William doing everything—from answering phone calls, to taking reservations, to leading tours.

Today, Cannon Falls Canoe and Bikes has 40 canoes, 60 kayaks, 10 tandem, 30 rafts and 60 bikes. A part-time staff of 15 helps check in guests, lead tours and keep equipment in ship-shape. Business skyrocketed four years ago when William’s sons got involved, investing in new equipment and a marketing strategy.

Type of Bookings: 80% Online Bookings | 20% Walk-up Bookings

Growing the Business: Impossible Without Technology

Before William’s sons got involved, the business hadn’t done much advertising, and the website was outdated.

“Dad was busy taking people on tours and managing what he’d built,” said Joe Lacefield, William’s son. Joe saw an immediate opportunity to digitize the company's processes.

“We were using Google Calendar, and it got to be too much when you put 30, 40 or 50 bookings in a day,” says Joe. “We’d lose track of how many units were out on the water. It was uncontrollable.”

Joe also knew that scheduling needed to be available to customers where they wanted it most: online.

Everyone wants to schedule online. Before, it was phone calls and email. Online reservations account for 80 percent of our bookings today.
— Joe Lacefield of Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike Rental

The first online system they tried wasn’t very robust. 

“It had a poor interface and no mobile,” Joe recalls. The system could only be used on a desktop or through a web browser, which made for a tedious booking experience for customers and staff.

“There were lots of steps to make a reservation—it was too much,” says Joe. “We wanted to reduce the number of clicks for us and for our guests. The fewer the better!”

Favorite Features: Mobile App | Inventory Management | Customizable Rental Types

Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike + ZOZI

Before ZOZI Advance, inventory management was a manual process. Since someone had to count equipment between tours and at the end of the day, there was always a chance for human error. Running out of equipment happened at least once a weekend.

We had to count equipment, then go to Square and manually count again. ZOZI put them together—it’s one system controlling the whole thing. It saves us from disappointing our customers.
— Joe Lacefield, Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike, Co-Owner

Today, inventory is managed through ZOZI Advance: it's scanned, tallied and ready to go out with the next guest.

“The app keeps track and makes sure we don’t over-rent," Joe explains. "We always know what’s coming in and what’s going out."

Moving Fast by Going Mobile

When Joe found ZOZI Advance, the mobile app was a clear differentiator from their previous booking system. Now, Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike staff are 100 percent mobile. That means when customers come to check in or walk-ups need to book, staffers can handle it on the spot, using one of four iPads loaded up with the ZOZI Advance app and an EMV-compatible credit card reader.

Employees grab an iPad and confirm reservations and payments with just a few clicks, making check-in quick and easy. When guest volume grew, Joe says check-in could feel like forever. With ZOZI, they've reduced check-in time from three minutes to just one.

“When you’re going through 100 guests, it’s a lot. If you have people there, and the line is getting longer and longer, three minutes is an eternity.”

Business Growth: + 65% Faster Check-ins | + 4 Mobile Chip Card Readers

Creating Buzz and Rewarding Fans

Joe wanted to get the word out about Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike in ways they hadn’t tried before, including online promotions and gift cards. With ZOZI Advance, they offer gift cards with ease.

“Before, we’d have to send an email with unique promo numbers. Now, it’s a live number that the guest can put in when they’re checking out. It’s a lot easier," he says. 

Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike also expanded their marketing efforts to social media. Joe can now generate special codes, which can be distributed on channels such as Facebook and YouTube. This helps create buzz and reward his growing fan base.

ZOZI Advance Brings the Business Into a New Generation

When summer’s in full swing, Cannon Falls Canoe and Bike is busiest, so with inventory management automated through ZOZI Advance, their growing customer base is more satisfied than ever.

“I haven’t even used ZOZI to its full capability,” Joe says, “and it’s drastically helping us.”

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