Fleets online: Service call


Businesses and residents depend on heating and cooling systems to maintain comfortable work and home environments. When something goes wrong with a system, though, it doesn’t take long for the comfort level of occupants to reach a boiling point.

That’s why companies that specialize in the maintenance and repair of such systems must provide top-notch, prompt service every time. Best Energy Solutions has been doing just that for 30 years, serving the Akron, OH, metropolitan area of more than 700,000 customers with 14 service vehicles comprised of mostly later-model Ford E-250 vans. Best Energy also has a 12-ft. Chevrolet box truck and an Isuzu flatbed truck.

Because of the importance of customer service, Best Energy realized it needed to improve its technicians’ productivity and effectiveness of its dispatch, work order processing, billing and related service functions.

“Our vehicles are our biggest asset,” says Philip Chiarappa, vice president. “To deliver the highest level of service, we needed an accurate understanding of where our vehicles and technicians were and precise start and end times for their jobs. We were using a mobile phone-based solution from our wireless carrier, but it wasn’t as accurate as we needed it to be.”


Looking for a way to minimize travel time and maximize service time for technicians, Best Energy turned to TomTom Business Solutions. Two years ago, the company picked the TomTom GO 730 personal navigation device and combined it with the WebFleet online fleet management solution. The GO 730 provides greater visibility of vehicle and technician location. In addition to navigation for drivers, the company’s dispatchers could identify which vehicles and techs were closest to a new job and assign work accordingly, speeding up response time and reducing fuel usage in the process.

“What I really love about the system is the dispatch efficiency,” says Chiarappa. “My dispatcher will take a service call and can send all of the information necessary to the driver with one click. We’ve actually integrated TomTom with our Wintac CRM system so all the information gets sent automatically. My guys hit ‘accept and route’ and TomTom will take them from wherever they are to wherever they need to be in the most efficient way possible.”

The device also gave technicians a more direct way to communicate with the office. By using the GO 730’s Bluetooth connectivity, technicians could contact the office with a single touch of a button on the screen. Once a work order has been sent to the driver via the device, driving directions are generated. Using TomTom’s real-time traffic data, the GO 730 navigates the technicians to the job site by avoiding congestion and ensuring on-time arrival.

“Working with TomTom has resulted in major operational efficiencies,” says Chiarappa. “I would estimate productivity is up by 30% as a result. It’s increased our efficiency in dispatching and keeping track of calls, and it’s an easy way to communicate with our technicians while they are on the road. And they appreciate the navigation piece. The less time they spend on the road, the more time they spend with customers—and the more money we all make.”

The company has also programmed locations of recurring customers into the in-vehicle units. Drivers can see when they are near a customer site that needs maintenance and can then go to that location to perform the work proactively. Suppliers’ locations have also been entered, allowing technicians to find the closest supplier to their location for when they need a part. This results in faster service and lower costs for customers who don’t have to pay hourly travel rates, the company points out.

Utilizing the WebFleet management program, each vehicle is tracked as to when it arrives and departs a job so that the office can bill customers accurately and provide an electronic record of how long the technician was onsite to customers who have questions about their bill.

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