After the Los Angeles Pestpac Technology Meeting I went home and did some research. I then went out on a buying expedition, experimenting with different devices and plans that I felt might work for Hearts Pest Management.
Since Hearts Pest Management uses universal technicians, I really needed a mobile solution that would provide a full feature Pestpac experience. Wanting to stick with my mobile carrier, Verizon, I asked them about their data access packages and how you can combine them for maximum advantage, explaining that I wanted to access GPS tracking data and wi-fi a WINDOWS operated tablet. Most tablets these days are not based on the Windows operating system, but until Pestpac finishes their software rewrite, it was imperative to stick with a Windows based tablet or notebook. I opted for a tablet because I wanted to be able to mimic features that Pestpac has for its mobile sales force solution. I did check some of Verizon’s competitors but found nothing better.
Here is what I purchased from Verizon:
One nice Droid cellphone with a 4GB data access plan at $30 per month. I topped that by a 2GB plan for a total of 6GB with the ability to have the Droid act as a mobile hot spot for the Windows I.E. 9 tablet (from which I removed I.E. so as to be compatible with Pestpac on Internet Explorer 8). This cost an extra $20 per month. Then I additionally ordered the GPS tracking capability (attached to the Droid, not the truck) for $25 per month). Tracking the worker instead of the truck would in some ways be an inferior solution to tracking the truck, but eliminated the additional fees of installing the GPS tracking software in the truck. It also provided some advantages in finding the worker or the cell phone. But, as luck would have it, the GPS feature was depleting the Droid battery very quickly, even when I used a setting to maximize the battery. The $25 GPS tracking plan had not contract, so I simply dropped it.
I bought a great Fujitsu Stylistic tablet from the local Microsoft store, getting 25% off on the tablet and associated accessaries. I later came back and bought three more and received a multiple Microsoft office license – cutting that cost from $99 per table to a total of $129 for three licenses.
Note that by having my field force access the Pestpac website during the day I will need to increase the number of users licenses. It will not need to be a one-to-one ratio as the licenses are for concurrent use. At a 2-to-1 ratio, the additional license costs will run roughly the same as Pestpac mobile, but now I will have a fully functional Pestpac system for my field staff, including full customer signing capability. The field staff have already started field posting of services and payments very soon after service. No more long time waiting to know the status of field work. They are also getting comfortable with service setups and scheduling follow up trapping services. They are very happy to be able to quickly update customer notes on the spot.
Then I went back to Marathon Data Systems to order the Pestpac GPS tracking system for 4 trucks (those kept in counties beyond our home office). For the extra $50 per vehicle, I purchased the dispatch software, which could save me $100,000 if it helps to avoid a liability causing accident.
As always, the Marathon Data Systems staff was more than happy to help me find the solution that I felt was right for my staff. Pestpac has so many features and components. I think they are comfortable helping companies snap the pieces together as they best fit for each individual company.
There are other Pestpac sub-system purchases in the future for Hearts Pest Management. As our office staff increase and it becomes more difficult to keep each CSR on track with the same set of information we want to impart to customers, I would like to further explore the Pestpac Sales Assistant package. I’ll keep you informed.