Making a small business mobile

LTT Vending has improved its bottom line with a BlackBerry mobile integration system, supplied by T-Mobile and rolled out by the in-house IT team.

LTT Vending has improved its bottom line with a BlackBerry mobile integration system, supplied by T-Mobile and rolled out by the in-house IT team.

LTT, which employs 160 people around the UK, has benefited from a 10% increase in productivity in operations and has expanded its communications devices without increasing expenditure.

Its use of T-Mobile Blackberry devices has enabled staff to work more effectively on the move, which in turn has improved customer service.

Better customer service has also helped the company differentiate itself from the competition in new business pitches.

The T-Mobile BlackBerry system runs on a BlackBerry Enterprise server, which is part of a corporate network running virtualised Windows-based servers and supporting Windows Vista and Windows XP-based clients. There is also a Microsoft Exchange 2007 e-mail system.

Keeping in contact

LTT Vending deploys 85 merchandisers to replenish vending machines and check they are in full working order. They are supported by 25 field-based technicians and 35 office-based staff.

Merchandisers and technicians need to be in constant contact with each other and their customers to be informed of service updates.

In the past, the company's vans were equipped with radios for communication between the technicians and merchandisers. However, they now require downloadable information in real-time and the radios were not able to offer this.

In addition, the merchandisers used to rely on non-wireless Symbol handhelds to collect stock and ordering data. The units had to be physically taken to the firm's depots so that the information gathered could be downloaded onto a PC for further action.

This meant the warehouse could not get orders ready in advance for the merchandisers, resulting in non-productive downtime.

Mobile comms on a budget

Jonathan Stannell, IT project manager at LTT Vending, says, "We have integrated our company Vendman CRM system with a bespoke BlackBerry mobile application developed over a 12-month period to increase productivity."

Information input onto the BlackBerry devices can now be sent to the depots in real time as a result.

In addition, the company uses Google Maps to track the location of its mobile staff via its BlackBerry Enterprise Server and the 2.5G GPRS network used by the majority of its BlackBerry devices.

Chris Sutcliffe, LTT Vending finance director, says, "It was vitally important that we could increase our use of mobile communications without significantly increasing our spend."

While LTT Vending had been a customer of T-Mobile for nearly six years, the company had been using standard mobile handsets with no access to e-mail on the move.

LTT Vending undertook a cost/benefit analysis and found that it could save money by switching to T-Mobile's Business 1-Plan tariff. The tariff allows companies to purchase an allowance of minutes, text and data services to share across a number of users. It is designed to remove the complexity surrounding mobile technology costs by providing one simple plan and one bill for all mobile communications.

About LTT Vending

LTT Vending Group was established in the 1960s. It provides national coverage from its three regional depots at Leeds, Leicester and Lewes.

LTT Vending's customers span a range of industries, including education, healthcare and retail. Clients include The Body Shop, Next, Leicester and De Montford universities, Harrow Hospital and TV shopping channel QVC.

 

Sutcliffe says, "We have stayed with T-Mobile over the past six years, mainly due to the price of its tariffs. However, we noticed a significant saving when we opted for the Business 1-Plan and increased the number of BlackBerry smartphones on our contract.

"Despite our number of BlackBerry mobiles rising from 30 to 120 devices, the cost each month remained the same. Our T-Mobile account manager continually aims to ensure that our tariff suits our usage, and this is one of the reasons we have been a customer for so long," he says.

Improving staff productivity

Many vending machines require multiple services each month, including regular cleaning. The ability to reschedule services in real time on the smartphones has improved the productivity of operations staff.

"Our operators are now able to receive data about the machines in their territory in real time and they can now reschedule visits more easily. We have calculated that they are saving over two hours a week of lost time, which equates to a 10% increase in productivity," says Sutcliffe.

Many of LTT Vending's operations staff are working mothers or staff with caring responsibilities. The company's flexible working policy allows them to start and finish work at times to fit in with the school run and other family commitments.

Furthermore, there is the option for staff to work from home for two or three days a week. A number of sales and administration employees work flexibly every day to avoid commuter traffic.

"Having the right mobile technology in place to allow them to plan their jobs in advance from home means they can work more efficiently and avoid long working hours," says Sutcliffe.

Technology wins business

The ability to promote its mobile and flexible working abilities has helped LTT Vending differentiate itself from the competition in pitches.

Sutcliffe says, "It seems that the use of BlackBerry smartphones is pretty new in our industry and this has helped in winning new business. Prospective clients like to know we are responsive to their needs, and we have managed to win business on the back of this."

He says the firm has been able to get a deal signed quickly as a result of a salesman having access to his e-mails on a BlackBerry. The salesman was leaving a pitch and checked his e-mails on his BlackBerry while in the car park. He e-mailed over requested revised quotes and the prospective client asked him to return before he had even left. Within five minutes the deal was signed, Sutcliffe says.

 

Benefits 
  • 10% increase in productivity
  • Increased responsiveness
  • Considerable cost savings since switching to T-Mobile Business 1-Plan

Source: LTT Vending

 

Technology 

  • T-Mobile BlackBerry Curve 8310 smartphones
  • T-Mobile BlackBerry Bold 9000 smartphones
  • T-Mobile Business 1-Plan mobile communications contract

 

Read more on Mobile hardware

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