Mobile phones and tablets are aiding an increasing number of business owners and managers in staying on top of staff and providing stellar customer service. In a survey of Green Industry Pros readers, we asked dealers and contractors to share how they are using their mobile devices to better manage their businesses—and how they plan to expand their use in the future.
Connecting contractors with dealers and products
Many contractors are using their mobile devices every step of the way in daily business. Monitoring the weather is the most common activity among contractors (87%). Our survey also revealed that 61% of contractors are using their mobile devices to research equipment and products, and 59% are using the tool to look up equipment service information. A large portion, 70% of contractors, are using mobile devices to locate dealers.
The high usage of mobile devices by contractors suggests that dealers should up their mobile presence and usage to better connect and communicate with this important customer base. Right now, 51% of dealers use their mobile devices to communicate with customers, with 8.5% looking to do so in the future.
Managing staff is another way contractors are using their mobile devices, with 24% using them to track employees, and 26% tracking vehicles. A solid percentage of contractors are looking to soon start tracking vehicles and employees with their mobile devices (19% in each category).
"Remote work can lead to all sorts of problems such as tardiness, employee time theft, logistics issues, as well as lack of access to centralized information," says Kirill Storch, CEO of Electric Web, a developer of mobile apps and websites. "A mobile app can tie field workers together so you know exactly where they are at any given time.”
Storch says apps can also show performance numbers, stream automated information to the employee, and store valuable information about the customers and market competition. Dealers are also using their mobile devices to communicate with employees (56%).
Sales and customer service functions
Several contractors and dealers have adopted mobile technology to use for certain sales and customer service functions. With the help of their mobile device:
- 34% of contractors are producing estimates … 19% would like to
- 20% of contractors are sending invoices to customers … 16% would like to
- 22% of contractors are collecting payment … 17% would like to
- 11% of dealers are sending invoices to customers … 9% would like to
- 11% of dealers are accepting payments … 12% would like to
There is still plenty of room for investment in these tools. Storch says growth in that area is expected and also encouraged. Being ahead of the competition in using mobile technology as a customer service and sales tool could make doing business with your company more easy and convenient.
“Sales, generally being one of the more agile arms of any given organization, is a frontrunner in adopting mobile technologies to remain competitive,” says Storch. “Currently, just 10% of businesses have invested in mobile process improvement for sales and other processes. In two years that number will jump to 30%.”
Managing inventory and materials
Careful management of materials for landscape installations, as well as parts and wholegoods in the equipment dealership, keeps business running smoothly and customer needs satisfied. With the help of their mobile devices:
- 47% of contractors are calculating material needs … 15% would like to
- 11% of dealers are managing inventory … 13% would like to
- 22% of dealers are placing parts orders … 10% would like to
- 18% of dealers are placing wholegoods orders … 9% would like to
Storch says companies with inventory can apply QR codes directly to boxes on the shelf to scan and track easily with employee smartphones. With an app that directly links to an inventory management system, users can quickly retrieve inventory count, prevent employee theft, and improve analytics and business performance.