Mobile Tools for Small Business
By Ross Miller, Director,
Illinois Small Business Development Center
Mobile businesses often think that technology is not affordable to help them do business more effectively. Here is a short list of some options that small businesses can use to help their employees in the field. The list focuses on three main areas – customer relationship management (CRM), field service management, and mobile transactions.
Field Service Tools
These tools help in all aspects of scheduling, routing, dispatching, customer management, quoting, and invoicing for a business that has mobile workers. Some programs can help you track location of workers, manage timecards, Department of Transportation requirements, and even repair issues.
- MHelpDesk – Dispatches staff in the field, provides time tracking and photos for work orders ($499 setup and training $75/month/first user and $25/month each additional user).
- Wintac – Provides office management, field services, marketing and accounting ($1450 - $2250 one-time fee).
- ServiceCEO – Integrates with Quickbooks for bookkeeping and Google Maps for route mapping ($95/user/month).
- Microsoft OneNote – free download, but will require time to setup a system that will perform effectively.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
For a mobile sales force, being connected to customer data and project status is essential to better customer relationships. There are several solutions that focus on this; many of the familiar ones are designed for large businesses. Here are a few that are customized for small business:
- Zoho CRM – Good system for the price. It can be automated to save some time (Free for up to 3 users - $12 - $35/user/month).
- SugarCRM – Offers drag and drop customization tools ($35/user/month - $150/user/month).
- SalesforceCRM – Most recognized CRM software brand ($5 - $300/user/month).
Currently there are many merchant accounts that are offering Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS). This allows for better security, faster payments, and improved cash flow for the small business. The options for this service are expanding every day. The most familiar ones are Paypal, Intuit, and Square. The cost of the unit is free or free after rebate.
Traditional merchant services and banks have also entered the market. FirstData, Global Payments, Heartland Payment Systems, TSYS, Vantiv, Bank of America, and Chase now all offer mPOS with their traditional offerings.
The benefit of all this to the small business is faster payment for services, fewer bounced checks, and less work to invoice and follow up on past due customers.
With the addition of a smartphone, a tablet, or iPad, and cellular service for each mobile worker, a small business can become more productive and profitable. This could increase productivity while reducing accounts receivable and paperwork.
If you have any questions about this process or other resources, contact Ross Miller at (309) 677-2992 or email.