Cintas ups productivity, trims costs by equipping sales staff with tablets
Cintas is replacing the older handheld devices used by its Fire Division with Windows 8.1 tablets.
Service sales representatives can step through daily tasks more efficiently without returning to their trucks to sync data. They can also deepen customer relationships and increase revenues by selling additional Cintas products. As a bonus, Cintas can reduce hardware refresh costs by moving to Windows 8.1 tablets.
Cintas works behind the scenes to keep businesses all over the world clean, safe, and looking professional. The Cincinnati, Ohio–based firm designs and manufactures corporate uniforms, entrance mats, restroom supplies, tile and carpet cleaners, promotional products, first aid and safety products, and fire protection services for more than 1 million businesses worldwide.
Of 30,000 employees, 10,000 are service sales representatives (SSRs) - driving trucks, delivering uniforms, maintaining and inspecting first aid and fire systems, and providing other services at customer sites. All of these mobile workers carry Windows CE–based devices used to scan barcodes, create invoices, and other tasks. However, the devices have limitations: a small screen, limited ports and expandability, and an inability to run Windows desktop applications. SSRs have to return to their trucks or offices to access company systems and transmit the day’s transactions. Some technicians have to also carry bulky laptops into customer sites to perform their jobs.
Cintas wants to make its SSRs and technicians more productive and also take advantage of the fact that 10,000 employees come in contact with customers every day and can help sell additional offerings with each interaction.
In 2013, Cintas launched a project to select a new device for its Fire Division SSRs (250 employees), aimed at replacing the old handheld device with a more modern solution. It thought briefly about Apple iPads and Android-based devices, but nearly all of the company’s business systems run on the Windows operating system. So Cintas selected HP ElitePad 1000 tablets running the Windows 8.1 Enterprise operating system. The HP ElitePad 1000 offered a cellular connection, touchscreen capability, long battery life, light weight, small size, flexible form factor, and many accessories.
Cintas worked with IT partner Sogeti to deploy and test the device. Sogeti helped Cintas design a Windows 8.1 image that was highly secure and optimized to support the new devices and also tested corporate applications on the tablet. “We focused on delivering a great user experience so that employees could be more productive and better serve customers,” says Stephen Hall, Microsoft Infrastructure Practice Manager at Sogeti.
With the new Windows 8.1 tablet in hand, SSRs and technicians leave their truck once and accomplish all needed tasks at the customer site without a lot of back-and-forth between building and truck and lengthy laptop startup and shutdown times.
Not only can technicians do their jobs more efficiently with the new tablets but they also have the tools in hand to deepen the customer relationship. A technician might notice that customer employees wear uniforms from a competitor. He or she will be able to access the company’s customer relationship management system from the tablet and create a sales lead immediately.
“Our technicians and SSRs can stand side by side with the customers and show them other Cintas products on the tablet, using photos and videos,” says Russ Johnson, Enterprise Architect in the Cintas Center of Excellence.
Cintas also licenses Microsoft Office 365 for employees - a cloud-based suite of Microsoft email, instant messaging, conferencing, and document-sharing services. Mobile employees can get their email while traveling and can also access sales documents. SSRs will be able to communicate during stops using instant messaging.
By replacing older handheld devices with Windows 8.1 tablets for SSRs, Cintas can increase field worker productivity, improve customer service, increase upsell opportunities, and save US$300 per device.
Increase field worker productivity
With their new handheld devices, Cintas SSRs can step through their busy days much more efficiently. “The speed and versatility of the Windows 8.1 tablets is critically important to us,” says Johnson. “The tablets turn on instantly, which helps boost productivity throughout the day and adds up across thousands of SSRs. With Windows 8.1 tablets, our SSRs make fewer trips to the truck, giving them more time to spend with customers.” SSRs can get messages back to the office faster and immediately take care of customer requests during a stop.
The Windows 8.1 tablets also show that Cintas is a modern company. “Our SSRs will be carrying around a modern device rather than an older device, which is important as our workforce gets younger,” Johnson says.
Improve customer service, increase upsell opportunities
With connected devices, SSRs can access not only email but also the company’s customer request system and react right away rather than batching requests at the end of the day. Plus, SSRs can create invoices on the scene, which means faster payment for Cintas.
Upsell opportunities represent new revenue opportunities. “We haven’t calculated the estimated revenue boost from putting tablets in SSRs’ hands, but there’s a huge potential for deepening customer relationships,” Johnson says. “There’s the intangible value, too, of presenting a modern image to our customers.”
Reduce device costs by $300 per device
By replacing the older rugged handheld devices with Windows 8.1 tablets, Cintas will save $300 per device, a savings that will add up as more SSRs use them. “The other aspect that makes lower-cost tablets attractive is the fact that we may be able to shorten the standard three-year device replacement lifecycle,” Johnson says. “This will be better for our bottom line - and keep the latest technology in our SSRs’ hands.”
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Cintas provides corporate uniforms, entry mats, cleaning products, fire protection, first aid, safety, and other products and services for 1 million businesses worldwide. Cintas is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.