Growing Pains - Starting a Remote Location
You’ve seen the TV ads and
commercials for text messaging. Teenagers sharing notes on a date,
twenty-something office workers secretly commenting on the boring
presentation. Yet another toy for the younger set to be lured
into buying cell phones, right? Wrong!
Text messaging on a cell phone
is the ten-cent solution to wireless dispatching and true real
time communication between the office and a mobile work force,
truck drivers, salesmen, repair services, collection services,
and yes…even your business.
Here’s how it works. You
can send an e-mail to a phone with a message of up to 160 characters.
The phone beeps and the message is displayed, with subject and
text. Whoever received the message can then use their phone (almost
all cell phones support text messaging), personal digital assistant
(PDA), PALM or any hand held to quickly respond and confirm that
it was received. So how can this help your business? Here are
1. You run a small business and
have someone handle the phone and update customer information
on a computer. After they take a call, they e-mail to your phone
the name, phone, address and work to be done. When you have parked
the truck or complete what you are doing, you look at the message
and everything you need is right there on your phone. No pencil,
paper or voice message swapping is needed. The cost is $.10 to
send and $.02 to receive. Time between sending and receiving is
a few seconds.
2. You run a delivery service
and want to have known where the driver is on the route to update
customers on the expected delivery if they call in. The driver
sends an e-mail to your dispatcher with the work order or customer
stop number as each stop is completed. Your dispatcher receives
the e-mails and has them routed to an inbox for the route. When
a customer calls in wanting to know when the vehicle will be at
his location, the dispatcher or order clerk can check the status
by quickly looking at the inbox and will know which stop was completed
and the exact time, within seconds. Let’s see…the
cost is: 40 stops on a route is $4.00 to send the message and
$.80 cents to receive it (if it goes to a cell phone or free if
it goes to an e-mail), or about $5.00 per day for stop-by-stop
route monitoring. That’s very little investment for information
to provide excellent service. And it’s a piece of cake.
3. You run a water delivery business,
fuel delivery, roll-off service or any route service that requires
stop-by-stop invoicing. The issue is that when the drivers return
at the end of the day, all the invoicing has to be completed.
It would be nice to have the weight of the pull, quantity of bottles,
etc., as each stop is completed so the invoice can be completed
and mailed immediately. The hand-held can be programmed to prompt
for some basic information and send a text message back to the
office. The office can read and enter the information to be invoiced,
or with a little programming assistance, the e-mails can be exported
into your computer so the line-item charges can be electronically
created and then reviewed and posted with minimal clerical support.
Would expediting your company’s cash flow warrant the minimal
cost? You bet.
The business basics behind this
tool are simple. Fifty million cell phone users have created a
low-cost, ubiquitous communication tool that supports almost instantaneous
bi-directional communication. For $5.00 a day and a hand-held
costing about $100.00, cell phones with text messaging can replace
industry proprietary devices costing thousands to purchase and
require separate communication services.