White Paper

You need a mobile strategy

Highlights

It's no secret that mobile technology plays a big role in the success of a business. Yet not every equipment dealer has taken advantage of mobile technology's ability to help maximize efficiencies and profitability.

In this guide, you’ll learn:


Introduction

There is no question that mobile technology plays an important role in our private lives. Everyday activities can be done faster and more efficiently, and connectivity between family, friends and others is at an all time high. Business life is no different, however, especially as the shift to customer-centric operations demands real-time service delivery.

Yet not every equipment dealer has taken advantage of mobile technology’s ability to help maximize efficiencies and profitability. This is somewhat ironic, since few other industries are as well suited to the benefits of mobility as equipment distributors. One of the most consistent realities, for example, is that virtually every transaction occurs remotely, at the customer’s site. From sales, services and maintenance, to rental drop-offs, pickups and fleet management, many of the services equipment dealers provide to customers can all be done better using mobile technology.

Software allows for the quick exchange of information between your office and the job site. For example, if equipment requirements change unexpectedly, mobility means you can react immediately and give your customers insight into that data. Time spent phoning or emailing information back and forth is dramatically reduced or eliminated completely. This improved productivity equals greater profitability, a crucial step in the success of any business.

Though disruptive, moving your company from pen and paper to handheld devices and online data transmission should be thought of as exciting. It’s a big leap for many equipment distributors, but developing and implementing a mobile strategy is a highly efficient way to fast-track your business growth well past your competitors.

Since the number of mobile applications and best practices available to you are endless, your first step is to develop a strategy for investing in and using mobile technology at your equipment distribution business. This white paper intends to address this need, and walk you through the question you should to be asking along the way.

Developing a mobile strategy

The term “mobility” applies to any portable electronic device that transfers data from one location to another via the internet, cellular network or wireless connection. Creating a mobile strategy for your company must begin with understanding which tools will work best for your company and which ones integrate easily with each other and with the systems you may already have in place.

Below, we break out the benefits of implementing a mobile strategy to give you a better idea of how mobile technology can contribute positively to your bottom line.

Benefits

Some of the tangible benefits of developing and implementing a mobile technology strategy for your equipment distribution business include:


Improved customer satisfaction

Cost savings

Improved workforce productivity

Streamlined operations

Drive more business

Early revenue catcher

Equipment and asset management

Workforce

It’s not just field service workers that can benefit from a mobile strategy. Mobile technology should improve the working lives of other employees too, as outlined below:

Field service technicians

Since the bulk of most equipment dealers’ profit lies in the area of servicing, you need to be sure to squeeze the most out of your servicing department.Given that most of your service work is done out in the field, the ability to maintain contact with workers’ data and interactions on the road is crucial. For example, since technicians are most often billable by the hour, the exact time at which a service technician arrives on a job can be easily logged within the system.

When your service technicians are online, they see a new work order in real-time, with visibility into customer history, inventory, troubleshooting tools and virtually everything they need to get the job done efficiently. Tasks like creating work orders, charging materials, handling expenses and looking up equipment and customer information can all be done within the mobile system, making tasks that used to be manual and time consuming more simple and efficient.

Sales team

Sales people today are highly mobile, so their business tools must be, too. You can’t afford to drop the ball when it comes to keeping your sales force connected, informed and updated. Some of the competitive advantages gained by sales people using mobile devices in conjunction with their company’s business system include:

Finance

On-site, real-time billing is a cinch with mobile technology, making it easier and faster than ever to issue purchase orders and get payment. You’ll no longer have to wait on paperwork to be submitted, reviewed, posted and then billed because technicians are billing on the spot directly at the customer’s site.

Integration is key

Like with all technology, a well thought-out, fully integrated mobile strategy will undoubtedly yield the best results. Purchasing a standalone mobile solution that is unable to integrate with other business software could mean that you’re simply transferring former paper-based activities into electronic activities. While an improvement over clipboard-and-pencil processes, it is nowhere near as efficient as integrating a mobile solution with your business software system. With integration, you are not duplicating any efforts between mobile applications or departments because everything is centralized in a product like enterprise resource planning software (ERP).

Mobility and ERP

If your company is currently running on a legacy system that is unable to integrate with mobile technology, it may be beneficial to look at replacing this system as well. If you’re new to ERP, asking the following questions to software vendors will ensure that your mobile efforts and ERP requirements coincide:

Types of mobile technology

The common denominator in all types of mobility applications is the act of taking technology to the point where it is being delivered. The following are some examples of mobile technology as they apply to the equipment distribution market today:

Sales Force Automation

Also known as field sales automation, this area of technology enhances customer communications, workflow and opportunity management, all extremely important to equipment rental and servicing businesses. Other terminologies you’ll hear in this area include:

Regardless of what you call it, the goal is the same - greater intelligence at the point of sale, resulting in substantial revenue growth for your business.

Some of the benefits of using Sales Force Automation include:

Field Service Automation

This area of mobile technology, as the name denotes, applies to any and all servicing tasks to be done out in the field. Field Service functionality improves the working lives of:

Equipment telemetry

Leaving behind your employees for a moment, let’s turn our attention to the equipment you distribute. Mobile technology, specifically telemetry, provides a way for you to manage and control forklifts and other equipment. A small monitor is fitted to the equipment, and an online tool sends activity of the equipment (hours run, miles driven, events, etc.) via cellular to the Internet.

Now, rather than your technician plugging his laptop into the console of a piece of equipment in order to transfer the data into his computer, the data is transferred online, from anywhere the equipment resides to any location of your employee needing the information. Equipment managers can log onto the Internet to get equipment reports and activity or automated emails. Telemetry can also act as two=way communication, with your staff sending performance commands (e.g. fuel consumption) to the various pieces of the equipment via online access. Telemetry providers such as SpeedShield, with its Fleet Online product, offer this functionality.

It should be noted that any telemetry device accessed via web service can, and should, be integrated into your ERP system for full functionality. An ERP system, such as EquipSoft, will integrate the data from telemetry to help augment equipment and asset management, with end-to-end visibility of new, used, rental and customer owned equipment.

Benefits of using equipment telemetry devices include:

Summary

Of course, mobile technology itself is not the point; the ultimate goal is to help you deliver information to your employees where and when they need it most: on-site with the customer, whether that’s sales, rentals, servicing or fleet management.

As owners, operators and management at equipment dealerships, you have a responsibility and crucial role in the acceleration of business benefits resulting from technology such as field service management, sales force automation, and equipment telemetry tools.

Strategic investment in, and adoption of, mobility has long-term as well as immediate payoff for your customers, your dealership, and our industry at large.

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