Technology helps to make business operations and communications easier and it is a driving force for positive change in most workplace situations. As our society becomes busier and people are required to multi-task effectively, the need for improved software and hardware technology becomes more demanding. For dealers in the water treatment industry, where time is precious and money even more so, it’s imperative to be on the lookout for the latest technology to advance your business and stay ahead of the curve.
Through constant research and development, technology companies offer solutions that can give dealers an edge in several areas. After speaking with several manufacturers in this industry, it is clear that these products' goals are: Make business easier; cut costs, save time; and protect the environment. Moreover, as we become more reliable on cell phones, many companies have started developing applications that dealers can use on the go. This type of software is known as mobile computing.
Many people would like to accomplish their jobs easier while also being accurate and efficient. For many years, companies have implemented software that has drastically changed the way dealers do business. Steve Mastio, maker of FittleBug, describes in a very simple way how technological advances help make things easier.
“Let’s start with the Sun," Mastio remarks. "It’s easier to look at a watch then to read the Sun if you need to know the time. Anything that makes peoples’ lives better tomorrow than they had yesterday is going to be remembered.”
Making life easier is exactly what these companies are out to do. And, these are the practical features dealers should be looking for. Software that can allow you to save time, cut costs and save the environment are ideal additions to any business.
But, software can also be used to help in other areas. Deb Stapel, marketing communications manager for Pentair, says one great technology initiative is to foster productive relationships with customers. “This comes in the form of improved business processes that are reliable and readily available. [An] online print fulfillment system, for example, provides the customer with 24/7 access to all literature and promotional items tied to the products that they purchase. This is offered in support of their sales efforts.”
Ken McGee, president of Performance Software Technologies Inc., lists several other ways software can help make business operations easier. These include: A calendar for job appointments; mapping with interactive job plotting; service and products for the stop; GPS and turn- by-turn directions to plot jobs; event rescheduling; and organizing contacts.
A mobile world
What’s becoming even more helpful is that many of these tasks can now be done from your mobile phone. This is known as mobile computing and it has grown in popularity over recent years. This technology isn’t necessarily new, but it is quickly progressing and allowing dealers to be able to work out in the field easier. Information can be transmitted from the office out to work areas or drivers. Pictures and routes can be sent via mobile devices for quick and easy access.
Andrew Kuneth, vice president of Prism Visual Software, believes there is nothing more important in this industry right now than apps for mobile computing. “By using mobile computing you’re getting information in real time into your accounting system. You quickly can see customers who are overdue on their payments. You can see inventory that may not be moving off the shelf. You can also see worker productivity [because] you can find out which drivers are doing most of the work," he explains.
Today, many dealers are becoming more and more dependent on mobile devices and not just phones, but tablets and other types of handheld devices as well. Water treatment manufacturers and software developers have noticed these trends in our marketplace and have answered with suitable offerings for these devices. “[Manufacturers'] introduction of apps for iPad as a sales tool has revolutionized the dealers’ ability to sell products,” asserts Adam McNeill, marketing manager for Pentair. “[These] apps turn a traditional sales pitch into an interactive story that resonates with the consumer. Dealers are able to visually demonstrate how the products work and are also able to gauge cost savings from the use of the product by using the app to calculate real time data on the spot.”
It wouldn’t be an advance in technology if it didn’t somehow help us save time. As devices become more advanced, society has become busier. For that reason, companies keep looking for ways to help businesses save time. As McGee notes, these devices allow for those in the water treatment industry to operate at a higher level of efficiency.
Software is available to help schedule appointments, as an example, and it can determine how long they’ll last for easy scheduling so there will be no wasted time. “As long as a provider knows what they charge, how long it takes and their geographic service area, they can reduce their administrative costs, free up management time and take bookings 24 hours a day (using this software),” adds Mastio.
We all know how frustrating it can be waiting for a service person to come by the house, but this advanced software helps dealers assist customers to eliminate this issue. Using this new software and these devices will not only help you run a more efficient business, but it will enhance your customer service capabilities by allowing them the most options to stay abreast of current product releases, sales and appointments.
Advances in technology have also helped society protect our environment. Through advanced technology many companies have been practicing sustainability. Kuneth reiterates those points and also brings in the related cost savings. "You’re going to cut costs from a standpoint of fuel costs. It’s going to cut the cost of three-part paper, which is about .25-30 cents a sheet. It (mobile computing) will reduce return trips because you can see what’s happening while you’re out in the field.”
These simple techniques and advances do more than just help run a better business; they also serve as a tool for helping us become more environmentally friendly. As companies continue to develop better solutions, make sure you are staying up to date with the latest software that will help run a more efficient business and to ensure that you are not wasting any valuable time.