Did Your Phone Save You $40,000 Last Year?

On a recent commuter flight to Newark, the passenger sitting next to me woke from his nap and promptly decided to strike up a conversation.  After seeing the cover of the book that I was reading, he asked what I did for a living. When I told him that I worked for AT&T, he, like most others I encounter, quickly assumed I was in the wireless side of the business. Before I had a chance to set the record straight, he immediately offered up to everyone within earshot on the cozy 74-seat Bombardier Q400  “My Smartphone saved my business $40,000 last year!

With that claim echoing through the cabin— and everyone hanging on for his follow-through — it seemed pointless to explain that I wasn’t part of our wireless group, so instead I countered with, “Really…how did you manage that?” Expecting him to tell me about some killer application that I couldn’t care less about, I was surprised with the simplicity of his story.

Turns out he owns a residential landscape business in the Pacific Northwest.  After some relatively easy detective work, my seatmate discovered that his delivery truck driver was robbing him blind through a combination of deceitful activities.  These included overbilling for hours that he didn’t work and, keeping a portion of the stone, gravel and other landscaping supplies that he was supposed to be delivering to paying customers. At this point, I was sure that he was going to explain how he came across some slick mobile ERP application or a GPS tracking function that prevents this kind of stuff from happening now, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

So how did he do it? I asked him and he replied, with a look of surprise that I had not connected the dots on my own.  “I fired my dump truck driver.”

“Now, I do the deliveries myself,” he said proudly. “I can do the work in about 12 hours a week, versus the 40+ I was paying my driver. And I make sure the supplies are actually going into the business .  That’s an easy $40K back into my pocket.” An even bigger benefit, my seatmate said is he gets more face time with his crews, customers and suppliers.  He explained that he can drive the truck now and with his smartphone he can conduct all the business activities that used to keep him tethered to the office – phone calls, email, sending  quotes or purchase orders, etc. He can send and receive photos too – a big advantage in his industry, allowing him to exchange samples of plants and other landscaping materials with clients and suppliers across the state.  He wondered how any small business could get by without this type of capability these days.

Take a look at the following video to see how another business is becoming more efficient by using smartphones…


As the networking industry continues to grow in depth and complexity, it was refreshing to see how such a simple application of technology could energize an everyday small business owner to tell his story to a complete stranger…or a plane of complete strangers for that matter.

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