[Technology Update] Putting Power into the Hands of the Industry

Mobile technology is having an impact on the pest management industry, creating multiple ‘touch points’ with customers.

“Men have become the tools of their tools.” When noted 19th century American author and philosopher novelist Henry David Thoreau uttered this quote, it’s likely he had no idea people could read his quotes on a laptop computer or on an iPad riding a commuter train between New York City and Washington, D.C.

The impact technology has had on the everyday lives of people across the globe is undeniable, and the power mobile technology has placed in the hands of consumers and business professionals evolves daily.

The days of printing your airline boarding pass are fading as travelers simply scan their mobile phone or device when checking in or going through security. And when you shop at the Apple store, Nordstrom or a host of other retailers, you can check out right next to the display of phones or shirts and sign with your finger rather than wait in line at the register.

The mobile revolution has arrived in the pest management industry as technicians and sales representatives have become “roaming” offices and are outfitted with all the tools necessary to service, sell, invoice and review inventory.

“Pest control companies need to decide how they want to communicate with customers,” says Andy Deering, COO of Service Pro, a Columbus, Ohio-based developer of mobile technology tools for service industry professionals. “Mobile technology allows them to service their current clients better, stay compliant with state regulations and respond to sales leads faster and more effectively.”

Service Pro offers its all-in-one software that allows PMPs to invoice, visually route a technician’s daily schedule, track service vehicles with GPS, process payments and generate marketing efforts all with the touch of a hand. “For growing companies it is all about touch points with customers,” says Deering. “How many times can you do it? Mobile technology creates more touch points for the company and the client.”

Service Pro Offers ServSuite Mobile Bundle for Field Service Technicians

Service Pro
recently announced the introduction of the ServSuite Mobile Bundle. With the ServSuite Mobile Bundle, technicians receive their daily schedule in real time and owners/operators/office staff can complete work orders, sell products, record observations, track materials used and other crucial functions, eliminating the need for handwritten work orders.

This new bundled service includes ServSuite Mobile Monthly Software Rental, a Samsung 7-inch Android tablet, accessories, wireless connectivity and data plan on Verizon, custom rugged carrying case, training and warranty. Included are replacement options for damaged or lost devices and an upgrade path to new devices after two years. An optional magnetic in-vehicle mount also can be purchased separately to provide all of the tools needed to improve PMPs’ operations in the field saving time, expenses, and improving customer service, Service Pro says.

The ServSuite Mobile Bundle costs as low as $59 per month for 10 or more users. It requires a one-year minimum rental period and the mobile bundle service eliminates the need to be locked into a two-year contract, Service Pro says.

Ten years ago touch points were all on paper from service tickets to marketing collateral, but today electronic delivery of this information is a must for on-the-go customers whose communication nerve center is their mobile device.

Deering says he asks prospective customers, “Are your fuel or labor prices going down and are you adjusting your prices up to cover that?” He says the answer to both questions is usually no but that is where mobile technology can help save companies money.

“When an owner sees that by optimizing their scheduling or marketing efforts with mobile software they can add five to 10 percent to the bottom line it gets their attention,” says Deering. “It can be as simple as adding an additional stop per day to a technician’s route or reducing postage and printing costs by converting marketing efforts to e-mail.”

A Mobile World.

For Adam Witt, vice president, Witt Pest Management, Pittsburgh, Pa., the adoption of mobile technology has bolstered the firm’s customer service levels and empowered customers.

“We were always early adopters when it came to incorporating technology into our daily operations,” says Witt, whose company transitioned to Service Pro’s mobile system using iPhones in January. “The benefit of a mobile approach is that it turns data into business intelligence for both us and our customers.”

Witt says being able to gather pest trend data for a customer with multiple locations as an example of where the speed of mobile technology has moved the needle forward.

“Going back and reviewing the information manually was very time consuming but with the mobile technology application that information is readily available and the customer is able to gain knowledge far quicker,” says Witt.

When mobile technology first arrived on the scene six or seven years ago many pest management professionals had a difficult time implementing it into their company. Most of it had to do with the unfamiliarity the industry and its technicians had with the concept of being an “office on wheels.”

“The generation of technicians that were asked to initially roll out mobile technology never had exposure to it,” says Deering. “It reminds me of a story one of our clients told me how years back his technicians carried around bags of quarters for the pay phone to stay in touch with the office.”

For today’s technician, the adoption of mobile technology is far easier since they have Android or Apple technology at the ready in the form of a phone or tablet.

At Witt Pest Management, automating the work order process has proven beneficial. The time it has taken to input data — everything from material usage to technician observations — has been reduced significantly and is now available in real time. “The resources available to our technicians in the field — e-mail, the ability to take video or access labels and other education reference sources — because of mobile technology certainly improves their efficiency and raises customer satisfaction levels,” says Witt.

With Service Pro.net offering its mobile solution across all three platforms (Windows 8, Android or IOS) the company has an enterprise solution for its more than 1,700 service industry customers. This is important since customers not only demand that the ants in the kitchen or the mice in the garage be removed quickly, but that scheduling or invoicing calls be handled just as expediently.

“Customers are simply more demanding today and we wanted to create a suite of mobile tools that allow pest professionals to schedule and pull up customer information in real-time, optimize routes and respond to sales leads faster than the competition,” says Deering.

The process for choosing business software usually sends shivers up the spine of those responsible for the task. Horror stories of systems crashing, long delays and functions not functioning are common.

“The top concerns most companies have are getting the system up and running smoothly and having their technicians figure it out,” says Deering, who recommends companies choose software that matches and supports how they operate and market their services. “With the flexibility of today’s mobile platforms, this is not as challenging as it once was. ServicePro.net has invested a significant amount of money into our cross mobile platform which makes us proud to be leading the charge for the pest industry. Having a cross mobile platform along with phone and tablet interface is one of the main reasons influential PCOs use our product today.”


Service Pro Hosts Open House

Service Pro in August opened its doors to clients just a year after moving into its new and expanded headquarters building. The open house was the first of its kind for the company and was held as part of Service Pro’s 20th year anniversary.

Twenty-one participants from the pest control and lawn care industries were welcomed by the Service Pro staff at its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters. Companies like Larue Pest Management, Massey Services, Midstate Termite & Pest Control, Northwest Exterminating, Witt Pest Management and others sent representatives to tour the new Service Pro headquarters and main data center, to meet and interact with Service Pro staff, learn about the company’s new and soon-to-be-launched offerings and enjoy an evening game of professional baseball at the Columbus Clippers stadium. The objective of the open house was to create a stronger relationship with the company’s clients and partners by creating familiarity and understanding with the company’s operations, office staff and products.

Randy Adcock of Midstate Termite and Pest Control wrote, “Thanks for having us up. We had a great time. It was nice to see everyone and the processes that go into support and development. We were impressed. Our confidence in the complete system (software, development, support, storage, future developments, tablets, etc.) has been bolstered. We are excited about the new developments and appreciate your continued hard work.”

Another participant of the open house, Adam Witt of Witt Pest Management, said, “It’s refreshing and dynamic to have a vendor that wants to involve you in their business just like they are involved in yours. It was great to see where exactly our customer database is housed and the care and security that is in place to protect it. It was great to tour the new Service Pro headquarters, put faces to names and see the hard work their team is putting in to support their clients and continually improve their services and offerings. It was exciting to get a glimpse of future enhancements to the software like GPS integration and Call Agent solutions and reassuring to learn how progressive they really are.”

Service Pro takes pride in its deep history in the pest management industry and being family-owned and operated. Founder Richard Deering serves as CEO, while son Andy Deering is COO and daughter Kim O’Connor is CIO. Andy Deering said the company continuously strives to make each client feel secure and at ease with their decision in choosing Service Pro as their business partner. “We are proud to have been in business for 20 years and will continue our plans to grow for 20 more,” he said. “We take pride in being family owned and operated. There is no other way to run a business from our perspective.”


The author is partner of B Communications, an integrated communications/marketing firm. Email him at jfenner@giemedia.com. Visit his website at www.b-communications.com.

December 2013
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