Companies in service industries like transportation, construction, and building maintenance, see the writing on the wall. Customers want to get quotes and order services through mobile apps.
A homeowner, for instance, may want to order snow removal or an electrical and plumbing repair, on demand, from a mobile app in the same way they book inner-city transit with Uber. The Uber app instantly calculates a price and gives a real-time ETA for the pickup.
“The technology demand from consumers is stronger and stronger,” says Andy Hopkins, president of Twin Pines, a Southborough, Mass.-based company that provides lawncare, maintenance and repair services to homeowners and businesses.
With his background as an IT consultant, Andy Hopkins has a vision for Twin Pines to be a high-tech, on-demand service company.
Twin Pines got its start in landscaping, but during the past year-and-a-half it has acquired a number of small businesses in the construction, electrical, plumbing and painting trades. It now offers a full menu of home services to residents in the wealthier suburbs west of Boston, Mass.
The company is building on the infrastructure that eventually will lead to a mobile app that customers can use to request a service, 24/7. Hopkins wants to get the customer a live ETA of the worker assigned to the job and a picture, similar to how Uber works.
With the infrastructure that is in place now, Hopkins says Twin Pines is already able to limit the use of phone calls and paperwork to manage its fleet.
“We wanted to have technology to help our guys be more successful in doing their day-to-day work,” he says.
Twin Pines uses the WEX Fleet Services gas card and recently added WEX Telematics to its vehicles. It uses information from the telematics system to improve the physical security of its assets and to verify time and locations of vehicles and workers to resolve billing disputes.
The company now has an “almost 100 percent success rate” for resolving billing disputes, he says. Before using WEX Telematics it was writing off $10,000 to $20,000 a year in receivables.
For repeat customers of snowplowing and lawn mowing services, Twin Pines uses the system to design more efficient routes to get workers to job sites faster. This has made it possible to add another lawn or two to each route to increase revenue, he says.
Twin Pines also uses WEX Telematics to confirm that workers reached every location on their assigned routes and to track how long they spent at each house. This data helps to determine if workers are getting more efficient and when to squeeze in more customers onto routes.
Additionally, Twin Pines can provide customers with an accurate ETA, such as when they call during a snowstorm.
“If I get calls for help, I can determine the approximate time a driver will be there to within half an hour,” he says. “Our customers love knowing that.”
Bernie Kavanagh, vice president of North America Fleet for WEX, says fleets are using the system in other ways to improve route efficiency and be more responsive to customer needs.
“Managers have the ability to re-route drivers if a low cost fuel provider is nearby, if hazardous weather conditions arise or if an appointment changes at the last minute,” he says. “Through the latest advances in routing technology, at WEX we can now take basic routing and overlay added data points such as fueling information to allow fleets to make the most efficient deliveries possible which is especially important in markets driven by e-commerce where time is of the essence.”