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A Great Time For Business: IoT for Field Service Bringing New Value

May042017
mobicorp

mobi provides software that links to GPS tracking devices in order to harness its data as business intelligence. Operations people with P&L responsibility use it to get visibility into previous activities, their impact, and use those trends to inform future administrative changes. To folks in industries like Service and Delivery, Construction, and Home Health Services this sounds sort of like a fleet management tool, although mobi's economic modeling platform is unique in the industry. But the truth of the matter is that since  joining BSM Wireless, and beginning the process of marrying the disparate features of BSM and it's other recent acquisitions the journey towards becoming a true IoT company with industry impact across a wide range of verticals is now underway. It's an exciting stage. It's an exciting time for technology, software development, logistical networks, telematics, and the convergence of all the above. There are so many layers to the general trend towards connectivity in technology. Just to scratch the service of the implications IoT will have on consumer service fleets, specifically as it relates to improvements in customer satisfaction is the intention of this essay. 

Today, the main goal with service organizations is to complete their intended jobs while keeping the customer satisfied. Customer satisfaction and positive feedback has become increasingly important especially when seeking customer loyalty. Some of the best service organizations use IoT devices that focus on what is best for the customer. Studies by technology publisher Aberdeen Group have shown that the service organizations that make customer service a priority produce an average of 7% higher performance levels across the board.  

It should be no question why IoT devices specifically geared toward customer satisfaction would be beneficial to any business. However, the benefits go beyond that. It has been found that using IoT devices to improve customer satisfaction, service organizations improve as a whole. Tom Paquin, put together an article,  "IoT and Field Service: Leveraging Connected Devices To Provide Exceptional Service,” with data showing that as customer service is tended to, the overall operational efficiency follows. Paquin found that the top organizations using IoT technology experienced a 12% increase in employee productivity while organizations more reluctant to use IoT saw a mere one percent increase. The data seems to show that if the customer is happy, everyone is happy.  

Putting the customer first requires attention from all angles. A business can never assume that because a customer used their service once and were satisfied, that customer is there to stay. Many leading service executives list retaining current customers as a challenge. When a company has hundreds, even thousands of customers in their system, keeping up with them and ensuring every single one of them is satisfied in no walk in the park. This challenge is something IoT technology can help with tremendously. IoT devices can pinpoint the areas of excellence and the areas that may need some improvement. The devices can track the employee productivity, the service parts and service vehicles in order to eliminate any problems before they may happen. Additionally, the devices collect customer feedback and ensure the customer is paying the correct amount for the services they are receiving.  

Many service organizations make the mistake of using IoT technology to gather data solely on their company and product in order to better themselves. This may seem like an efficient business approach but it does not produce the same kind of results. The idea that if a business has the best products and business plan then they will be the most successful makes sense initially. However, customers need more than this kind of surface level service. An average customer is more likely to remain loyal to a company that keeps their needs in mind. 

But of course, it goes without saying that a balance must be struck between delivering customer value and maintaining appropriate cost levels. Data fed into a centralized platform from different devices that are part of service execution can also bring into the fold the expenses for that execution. This is the kind of well-rounded IoT solution that can have real economic impact to industry and commerce. For example, a telecommunication company that deploys perhaps hundreds of service vehicles across a region to perform new customer installs or regular maintenance work would be well served to have GPS data fed into a centralized hub. Doing that would make it possible to run different analytical programs that could optimize their routes and schedules to find the most efficient means to fulfill time window promises while cutting down on the time spent driving to different locations. This would have the duel effect of maintaining established service level agreements with customers but also reducing the cost per stop, per vehicle. The aggregate cost savings organization-wide would be massive. Re-deploying assets freed up after insights derived from proper analytical processing would mean opportunities for new growth could be explored without incurring a new expense. Herein lies the possibility for survival for consumer and business to business service companies struggling to differentiate themselves. In the marketplaces of the modern era it is only the innovators that survive.  

 A company that has a good product, arrives on time, operates efficiently, has reasonable costs and takes feedback into consideration will often come out on top. 

When running a service organization, it is important to keep things running efficiently in order to maximize revenue. Connecting your various assets provides the visibility required to do this. Technology is developing today that allows business owners and operators to create value by not only fulfilling customer expectations but by surpassing them. I'm glad to have a tiny part to play in the developing innovation. It's a great time to be a consumer. Today, in 2017, the customer has more power than ever. This forces company to compete more fiercely, and thus strive to reinvent themselves, to develop new and additional value. Staying on top of customer retention has never been so important.  All good news for the consumer and great fun for the people who work to make it so.  

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How To Make The Most Of Your Business’s Mileage Tax Deductions

Mar292017
mobicorp

Grab a cup of coffee because we're going to talk about taxes and the importance of a GPS tracking software solution to automate logging mileage.  

Business owners and fleet managers in the telco, pest and lawn, logistics industries, or in any type of business where you deploy a mobile workforce know that the miles stack up quickly. Come tax time the big question will be whether or not those miles will translate into potential tax deductions at 53.5 cents per mile.  

Here are three tips to make sure your tax returns reflect all that time your vehicles spent on the road.                   

  1. Estimates aren’t good enough!  

In order to be compliant when submitting a claim for transportation expenses the IRS requires at tax time not only a record of your mileage,  but the dates of your business trips, the places you drove for business, and the business purpose for your trips. 

  1. Separate business, personal, and commuting 

Most of the time fleet vehicles will be traveling to and from business/customer locations. But sometimes drivers take company vehicles home with them. That homeward bound journey, for however many techs the situation applies to, wracks up the miles. If a tech uses the company car for a non-approved job, a side gig maybe, that’s even more miles. It’s also likely drivers make an occasional stop at a coffee shop or burger joint, sometimes having to go a fair distance out of the way. The point is that the IRS wants to know which trips were business-related and which weren’t. As the person responsible for the fleet, and/or profits and loss, being unable to provide appropriate documentation means not maximizing on your tax return. (Not to mention sacrificing wear and tear to your vehicles for drivers who are using them for illicit profit. With mileage tracking, categorization is key. For good asset management, GPS tracking is key. 

  1. Automate your mileage tracking and fleet management 

Tracking mileage manually is tedious and time-consuming, not to mention being prone to human error. But cloud-based, automated fleet management tools will provide for a streamlined, IRS-compliant process by calculating and categorizing mileage for each trip. When using mobi.Locate you simply install a small GPS tracking device and it records each stop/start address, distance, duration and more. After that, generating IRS mileage tax deduction reports will be a snap!

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Empower Mobile Workforce to be Results Driven

Feb132017
mobicorp
Categories: field-service

Does your field service operation have a 92% success rate when it comes to meeting response times per service level agreements (SLAs)? According to this report only the top performers in the industry are meeting that number, which means there are a lot who aren’t fulfilling their SLAs. That puts consumer service companies in a tough spot. The industry as a whole is getting more and more competitive every year as new companies join the market place and customers’ price sensitivity increases along with their expectations. As mentioned in a previous article on real-time driver reporting GPS tracking and location visualization are giving companies a way to keep up with customer expectations. But, of course, the inclusion of this tool into your fleet is only the first step toward remaining competitive nowadays. Getting an edge involves moving beyond location technology. The next evolution of GPS comes in the form of the insight one can gleam from all that data. Information just isn’t worth anything if it isn’t actionable.


With the right tools delivering actionable data it becomes possible to improve the efficiency of daily routing, planning, and scheduling. This has a two-fold benefit. The first part is concerned with preserving the business’s current success in the market, sustaining its customer base by meeting SLAs while also minimizing operational costs. The second is concerned with planning for future demand. Foresight into how resources, be it personnel, equipment, or all the above, are going to be taxed in the future is critical to getting the right technician, with the right solution for the right customer, all at the right time.

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But improving forecasting and planning for future service demand is really only going to come once the major hurdles faced in daily operations are overcome. Moving past the major challenges, namely, cutting costs, increasing field efficiency, compensating for your aging workforce, and a high turnover rate, necessarily comes first. Some questions: if you manage a mobile workforce, are you often dealing with frustrated workers who spend most of their day driving and not servicing customers? Are they passing other company vehicles going the opposite way all the time? Are they filling up your voicemail and inbox with complaints about going out on service calls where the issue they’ve been sent to address requires a different skillset, different tools, or help from other technicians who were assigned elsewhere at the time? Are they quitting because of too many times going it alone, without what they needed to really get the job done and are tired of dealing with angry customers? This is poor planning, and the scenarios described are all contributing to the top business challenges currently being faced out there.

Getting the best of the planning conundrum means getting the best of permutations on top of permutations. Good luck! Companies that service multiple clients (that regularly change) multiple times a day in multiple locations are hard pressed to ever make sense of it, let alone align daily operations with year-end economic, or business goals. However, technology does exist to not only create geographically defined service areas for techs with different experience levels, customers with different demands, SLA defined time windows and other constraints, but the ability to compare the costs of various what-if scenarios and see the impact on a business’s profitability.

Properly aligning customers and field service crews, along with cutting down windshield time improves worker morale and slows employee churn, or even stops it completely. But this can’t be accomplished without the ability to track and measure individual activities. And that ability isn’t going to be worth much if what’s reported on isn’t set against the right business goals. Being able to audit different metrics, like percentages relating to the fulfillment of SLAs means not just having the technology available to help optimize daily routing, planning, and scheduling, but to analyze the results. With this you can empower your field workers. Technicians are not commodities that are replaced with ease and with little expense. Hanging on to them needs to be a core business principle. Otherwise, there’s no chance in hell of meeting that 92% success rate.

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The Trick To Lower Costs and Safer Driving Is Gamification

Feb132017
mobicorp
Categories: gps-tracking

The term, gamification, means using game-like procedures and features, things like quests, points and rewards based on performance, but used for non-game applications. The point of it is to make boring things less so, which studies have shown that it has a tremendous effect on motivation and increasing engagement.

Savvy fleet managers and those with roles in operations can capitalize on this quirk in human psychology by initiating a scoring system among drivers and field techs on things like the most positive customer comment cards received in a given month, or who cut their idle time the most, who has the fewest hard brakes, who kept to their pre-planned routes, etc.

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The key to all this, of course, is that one has to have a way to actually measure this stuff. Spiffs and rewards for customer satisfaction and safe driving are all fine and dandy until someone has to buckle down and sift through notes, spreadsheets, driver logs, and whatever else to figure out the winners.

So what would be helpful would be a handy way to measure driver performance and that automatically crunches the numbers for you, displaying actual performances against your company goals and revealing where improvements can be made or added.

That’s where GPS tracking and analytical software helps. It collects visit, technician, and cost details to improve inefficiencies and productivity. As well it can collect metrics like fuel usage, idle time, driving behaviors, time of jobsite arrival and departure – anything you might use in a game-like competition to get your drivers motivated.  This is real-time fleet monitoring.

Selecting your top performers based on the relevant statistics and then rewarding them becomes easy. Not to mention it also helps maintain safety, track and lower costs, and ensure great customer service.

So, make it a game, and win!

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Real-time reports on drivers

Jan162017
mobicorp
Categories: gps-tracking

Better fleet management with GPS tracking

Tracking the activity of a company’s mobile assets using GPS technology is an essential step for any business owner or operations manager looking to gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on when their vehicles are out there on the road. The improvements to efficiency, customer service, and operational costs are huge, and come with only a marginal investment. Geolocation technology is cheaper than ever before, and due to the breakthroughs in cloud computing, very smart people are working to bring unprecedented levels of sophistication to small, medium sized, and enterprise level companies. Real-time and historical reporting on drivers delivers better fleet management. If you’re not using GPS tracking, you should.

How It Works.
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed from the communications of space satellites and terrestrial units. The Global Positioning System is mainly funded and controlled by the U.S Department of Defense (DOD). The operation of the system is based on the principle of trilateration, that is the exchange of location related data between the unit on the ground and three different satellites above. The GPS unit on the ground pushes (i.e. "sends") the position of the device as well as other information, like speed or vehicle trouble codes, at regular intervals to a determined server using a built-in cellular or satellite connection. There the data can be instantly analyzed and displayed to managers via a secure website.

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How It’s Used.
This vehicle data is used by fleet managers or business owners to get a clear picture of what is going on, either in real time or historically. This information can then be used to better establish execution plans, and then to monitor mobile workers in order to help them use their time more productively and be more responsive to customers. Providing maximum value with a variety of assets and numerous resources, all possessing their own unique skills while spread over a widespread geography, is a major challenge to any services provider. In this highly competitive age, where speed is always a major factor, utilizing GPS tracking technology is how to get and then maintain an edge.


Benefits.
The benefits one can expect to see using a GPS tracker depends very much on what is being done with the data collected. Companies like mobi are leading the field in providing GPS processing power to produce insight and analytics with clear benefits to the user. The average mobi user can expect an increase of global efficiency by 15-25%.


How Difficult Is It To Use?
Adding a fleet monitoring system to your mobile workforce is a simple process. Plug N’ Play devices are simply inserted directly into the on-board diagnostics port of the vehicle. Once done they start transmitting data right away. Then, with a web-based application, or fleet management software tool, collecting and organizing the data is mostly an automated process. Having an idea of goals and aspirations before beginning this process can go a long way in terms of giving one some direction when sifting through the enormous amounts of data that can be collected. The benefit of software sold in a modular fashion, with computing and visualization features that can be added or subtracted as one sees fit, is that it’s possible for a manager to get all that they want and nothing they don’t. That’s important from a cost perspective, as well as simply not wasting time poring over details that don’t matter.


Cost.
Concern over costs of implementation is understandable. But don’t miss out on the fact that a solution of this type is not something that’s just bought, per se. It’s an investment. Fleet tracking will eventually pay for itself. If your vehicles are excessively idling, monitoring software can tell which vehicles are, and for how long, how often, where it regularly happens, and even if it’s happening right now! If a $50,000 truck gets stolen, mobi can help locate it for you. If an employee is using a company vehicle for side jobs, now there is a way to find that out. A handy tool to get an idea of how much money would have to be invested and then the expected return visit the ROI Calculator.


 If you’d like someone to talk you through the steps involved, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

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Get Better at Planning a Daily Schedule for Your Fleet

Jul282015
mobicorp
Categories: in-the-news

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Let’s say it’s almost the end of the day, and the delivery point has been moved to another location. You assume your driver is en route. So, now you have to let your driver know they need to change course -- how do you do it?

First question: Where is your driver currently?
Second question: How will you communicate the new information to them?

If your first answer is “I don’t know” and your second answer is “Call them?” you should keep reading.

Poor planning can cost you a lot of money, even if you don't realize it. Gas isn't cheap, for starters. But when your schedule doesn’t go according to plan, good communication can save the day. Whether you’re on the dispatch end or the driving end, planning and communication are key to a fleet running smoothly.

GPS tracking software, route planning software, and dispatch software are the answers you didn't even know you were looking for.

Knowing your driver’s route ahead of time will help you plan where they should go next. With a vehicle tracking system in place, you can plot and track to make sure everything is going according to plan. And if the schedule changes, dispatch can immediately update your driver’s route then notify the driver in real time. All of this can be done quickly and easily -- it just takes the right software.

Be more prepared by using field service software, like mobi. The less time your drivers spend on the road reacting to last minute changes, the more customers they can service. Plus, give them better customer service.

We've been working with fleet companies for 17 years now and have seen it all. The kinds of problems you run into when managing a large or small fleet of vehicles, like in the example above, can be solved with a modular approach. That is, using the software that will suit your business's specific needs and adding on as your business's needs change.

Here’s three of mobi’s fleet management products that can help you improve your fleet planning and great if you're just starting to use vehicle tracking software: mobi.Route + mobi.Locate + mobi.Dispatch.

These three products work together seamlessly to plan the best trips for your drivers. If you’d like to see how mobi can help your specific industry, whether your pest control or in health care services, our ROI calculator will show you just how much you can save. Just click here.

The best way to plan your trip? Let mobi do it for you.

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3 Ways Your Business Can Improve It’s Customer Service with Field Service Logistics and Analytics

Jul162015
mobicorp

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Field service logistics and analytics – we know, it’s a mouthful. But it’s the biggest way to show your customers you take their appointments seriously.

Whether you’re in plumbing, pest control, or window cleaning, if you’re making at least 5 stops daily for deliveries or appointments, you need to keep track of your customers’ happiness.

Here’s 3 ways the numbers and stats from fleet management software will make a difference in your customer service:

1. More accurate delivery times. Give your customers a more exact delivery window, so they know when to expect your field technicians.

2. Decrease wait time. By plotting your route ahead of time, you’ll be decreasing the chances of your field technicians getting lost.

3. And if they do get lost, give your customers an update in real time. Check where your field technicians are and update your customer on their progress.

Your customers want real time information and to know you’re on top of it when it comes to delivering service. Think it’s easy to improve your bottom line and build that relationship with your customers? It can be if you use mobi.

With mobi products, like mobi.Plan, mobi.Locate, and mobi.Territory, you can apply some serious strategy to your business that will make your customers happy. It’s all pros when it comes to using planning solutions for your business.

Check out different ways mobi can deliver you the best field service analytics and logistics here: Get started.

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6 Ways You Can Save On Fuel Costs

Jun262015
mobicorp
Categories: routing-software

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Gas ain’t cheap. You’re probably feeling it in your pockets every time you fuel up, and especially when your whole fleet does. This is why having a field service software management system in place, like mobi, will help you save money on gas.

Here’s 6 ways your fleet can cut costs on gas by using field service software:

1. Monitoring speed limits

Aggressive driving, like speeding and rapid acceleration followed by braking, wastes tons of gas. See who’s doing it and then inform your drivers. Driving the speed limit can improve gas mileage up to 10% -- saving you about $0.09 to $0.28 per gallon. Plus, it’s safer.

2. Avoid traffic and getting lost by planning ahead.

The art of planning ahead can save you, in more ways than one. Shaving time off the schedule by having the route plotted out ahead of time will lessen fuel costs and give your drivers a more efficient path. No more off-roading.

3. Monitor idling time

See how long that quick stop really took. Excessive idling can use up to a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on how high that AC is blasting. Monitoring idle time will help you be more aware of ways to cut down on those minutes.

4. Maintenance updates

Specifically, tires. Setting reminders for maintenance updates will always save you money. Like reminding your field technician to check the air in the tires, so the vehicle isn’t slowing down as they deflate. Fix small problems before they become big, expensive ones.

5. Efficient dispatching

Tired of drivers getting lost? Or creating their own, and much longer, routes? Give dispatch an easier form of communication so your fleet isn’t running around wasting gas trying to find their drop off location.

6. Keeping records and reports

This is all about improving how you run things. Have digital records ready to be pulled up whenever you need them. Keep track and keep adjusting, so you can see how much you’re actually saving on fuel costs.

As you can see, there are a lot of ways to help your business save money on gas. Are you doing any of the above? If not, how about you start doing all of them, just by using one field service software management system: mobi.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

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How to Get Connected and Use Smart Phones to Your Advantage

Jun242015
Sarah Boutwell
Categories: field-service

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You’ve heard it before: Everyone’s got a smart phone. It’s important to stay connected today, especially when you’re running a business on a schedule. Smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices are the tools that help you do it.

Don’t think a smart phone is only good for downloading games like Candy Crush though. What about how it can connect you to your employees and empower them to deliver even better delivery service to your customers?

Not only that, but its fast. One of the benefits of having a real-time connection with your field technicians is the convenience. You log on, you make the adjustment, boom. All done. Easier than writing them a long email about a cancellation or taking 20 minutes to explain a new route on the phone.

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Update arrival times like you update your Facebook status. Yes, it’s totally that easy.

Here’s an example: Your field tech is on the way to make a 3 o’clock appointment. But the customer calls you and says they need it there by 2:30. All you, or a dispatcher, needs to do is make those changes in the app, so your field tech can get the update, change route, and get there on time. Then the customer is happy and you didn’t need to reschedule.

This is the benefit of having a connected fleet and team.

And no matter what kind of mobile device your technicians use, if it connects to the internet, mobi’s field service app works. Streamlining your business by getting connected with mobi.Connect and mobi.Dispatch will make your business more cost-effective and efficient.

Not to mention you’ll be doing less paperwork -- and what business owner doesn’t like that?

Interested in learning more? Click here to get a free demo.

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Why Your Delivery Business Needs to Go Paperless

Jun152015
mobicorp
Categories: gps-tracking

• Are you still using pencil and paper to keep track of each of your drivers’ deliveries?
• Do you still print out maps for all your drivers when they have appointments?
• Tired of refilling the ink cartridge in the printer because of all the spreadsheets you print ou
t?

It’s time to go paperless.

Whatever your industry, you can benefit from keeping digital records for your fleet. Tracking vehicles can be as easy – you just need the right software.

Using mobi.Locate and mobi.Route, you can have all your data, like vehicle routing, fuel costs, vehicle scheduling, and more, done for you. You can choose to have reports emailed to you, or your fleet manager, daily, weekly, or monthly.

Digital records are more accurate, faster, and won’t drain your resources.

Not a tech savvy person? That’s okay. Your life as a business owner will get so much easier if you start with mobi. Our software is user-friendly, accurate, and easy to integrate with other systems. Not to mention it’s easy on the eyes.

It gets better: Using field analytics can help you reach your business goals. Get the digital edge on your competitors and keep track of your growth with logistics technology.

Goodbye, hole punch. So long, binders. Hello, mobi.

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