Roto-Rooter provides plumbing and drain cleaning services to residential and commercial customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Service technicians routinely inspect and diagnose plumbing and drain cleaning problems, offer solutions and provide estimates to customers. Half of Roto-Rooter's business functions on a "call on demand" basis.
Several years ago, the company realized it needed to overhaul its field data capture process. Roto-Rooter field technicians initially collected customer information on paper after each job was complete, which proved to be a time-consuming routine. They would then phone dispatch and relay the data from the customer's invoice, as well as credit card information to process payment. The dispatcher would enter the information into the company's customer relationship management (CRM) software.
The 20-minute average time period to process data upon completion of each job was taking its toll on the corporate mission to serve customers without delay.
According to Stephen Poppe, CIO for Roto-Rooter, knowing the service technicians' location, getting them to the customer sites quickly and collecting customer billing data from the field are top priorities. "Our overall philosophy is to touch data as little as possible," says Poppe. "The bottom line is to reduce time in between jobs."
In 2004 Roto-Rooter began testing a new wireless and Web-based mobile workforce management solution from Sprint and Gearworks. In 2007, the company rolled out the system to all of its 50 company-owned branches. Nearly 2,000 service technicians now work with Motorola i605 and i615 handheld devices with push-to-talk capabilities operating on the Sprint cellular network.
The devices are equipped with Gearworks' eTrace software, a location-based mobile business application.
Since the implementation, Roto-Rooter has improved response time to customer calls and "we have been able to eliminate unproductive time," says Poppe. "Being able to touch the data once and upload it through to the CRM software has allowed us to get information as [soon] as the job is done."
Increased productivity is an advantage to service technicians as well. "[The GPS system] displays where the technicians are and where their jobs are, which reduces drive time and gas," says Poppe.
Compensation for most of Roto-Rooter's technicians is commissions-based, so "when they are able to get to their next job faster, their earnings significantly increase," he adds.
Tom Moore, director of mobile business applications for Sprint, adds, "Once they got the application, they went through half a dozen upgrades, beginning with a basic dispatch, then using wireless forms, an integrated pricing system, voice response system, and all the way through. They're now doing credit card swipes and using wireless printers. They're the typical customer that starts small, and once they see the value, they tie everything in."