This article written by Mike Monocello originally appeared in VAR Insights. To read the article on that site, please click here.

An integrator moves a pest control company away from pen and paper with an 800-unit mobile computer and printer install.

Despite the obvious benefits of the latest field service hardware and software, not every company with field operations has made the investment in new technology. This is a huge opportunity for VARs and integrators focused on providing such solutions. The need exists and the solutions are more powerful and affordable than ever. Quest Solution is one integrator that’s had recent success moving customers from pen and paper to the latest field service technologies.

Ron Aviles, strategic accounts manager for the integrator, can point to a recent project for a pest control company. Quest Solution has worked with this customer for about seven years, handling both the residential and commercial divisions of the business.

A couple of years ago, the integrator was approached by the residential division, which was having issues with the printers it used for receipts and other leave-behinds at customer job sites. “The company was using old inkjet printers in vehicles to print 8.5 x 11-inch receipts and flyers,” says Aviles. “Unfortunately, the printers were expensive to maintain and had reached end of life.” In addition, the field workers were using pen and paper for taking notes, and their cell phones for routing. “As you could guess, routing was very inefficient as workers would get dispatched to a job site regardless of who was closer or a better fit for the problem,” he explains. “An entire field service overhaul was in order.

Quest Solution helped the pest control company review a handful of different technology options. From a printer standpoint, the company wanted devices that were portable, less expensive to use, rugged, and easy for drivers to operate. Ultimately, it selected the Brother Mobile Solutions PocketJet 6 thermal printer. This printer can print on paper 8.5 inches wide on cut sheets or continuous roll paper. Additionally, since it’s a thermal printer, there are no ink or toner costs. The pest control company opted for a rugged fanfold case by Brother that provides protection and clipboard functionality, and holds fanfold paper. For mobile devices, the company selected Zebra/Motorola MC65 and ES400 Windows Mobile devices.

Over the course of two months, the pest control company tried out the printer and Zebra devices at one branch. This five-unit demo included WorkWave PestPac software made specifically for the needs of the pest control vertical, route optimization software from Descartes, and mobile device management software from SOTI. After a successful trial, the pest control company was ready for a full rollout.

Quest Solution began issuing 800 units to the residential division’s branches. All the hardware was sent to the integrator, who then configured everything and reboxed the total solution for shipment to the branches. Aviles says the biggest challenge with the rollout was teaching the process changes to the field workers who were used to pen and paper. “Whereas there’s often pushback from workers to adopt new technologies, since the pest control company incentivizes field workers to make extra stops, the route optimization portion of the solution was a welcome addition as it put money in the pockets of workers,” he adds.

The total cost of the solution was approximately $800,000 with additional monthly recurring revenue from the route optimization and SOTI subscriptions.

With the new solution in place, the pest control company has optimized its routes, eliminating inefficiencies it experienced prior. The software can also automatically fill gaps in schedules with less urgent deliveries. In addition, the company has experienced increased service levels and profit margins.

Since the install, Aviles has been working on upgrading the commercial division, expecting to deploy about 150 PocketJet 7s. “Pest control is a great market for us,” says Aviles. “We are targeting the major players as each has between 1,000 and 3,000 routes.”

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