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The SMS Secret: Real-time Data Analytics
Back at headquarters, Barrett walks through rooms packed with Plexiglas cubicles, where dozens of young customer service reps are seated, taking phone calls in front of double-screen computers.
Flatscreen televisions display charts, data and digital maps covered in colorful “pins.” Each pin represents real-time data analytics on a location that is being serviced by SMS affiliates.
Besides reaching out to BSCs and other facility operations (or conversely, BSCs seeking out SMS), the firm targets retailers, restaurants and hospitality companies.
In particular, SMS goes after the companies with hundreds or thousands of locations, says Barrett, all of which need on-demand and interval maintenance services. These are the companies that contract for services with SMS, which hires the contractors who ultimately carry out the work, he adds.
To explain, Barrett taps into the network, brings up a map and clicks on an affiliate pin, opening a vault of data. Screen after screen reveals work status (scheduled, completed, graded), billing history, insurance and legal documentation, contact information and more. On a weather screen, Barrett shows how predicting a snowstorm can place a snow removal company in a position of advantage — giving the company time to schedule locations, or prepare trucks and road salt — well before the storm hits.
Contractor affiliates utilize an easy-to-use “check-in, check-out,” system via a web-based or mobile application to translate work status.
For example, when a commercial cleaning company arrives to a location they use the application to “check-in.” Then they might clean the facility’s floors and restrooms, detail that information in the app, and finally, “check-out.” SMS receives this information and sends an e-mail to the site manager who can then confirm and rate the job completed. All of the communicated information is collected into the SMS system, where it is stored, monitored and assessed.
Most properties that utilize the program experience cost-savings up to 20 percent, Barrett says.
For BSCs, SMS provides a clear-cut path to bigger opportunities, says Alex Rothman, vice president of operations. Instead of cleaning a single location of Best Buy, for example, SMS can orchestrate more work for the contractor within a smaller radius.
With SMS, a contractor might still clean the Best Buy location, but also service a local Starbucks and a nearby Walgreens.
That’s the value of real-time data analytics.
“We cut ‘windshield time’ — costs to the contractor, the material, their labor, etc.,” says Alex. “Today your truck is going 40 miles. What if I can reduce that to a 20-mile radius? It’s a very dynamic model.”
Industry leaders have begun to take notice. In 2012, SMS beat out 400 nominees to win the Chicago Innovation Awards, the largest celebration of innovation in the Midwest.On Feb. 25, 2013, the company was invited to ring the NASDAQ stock market closing bell. Other awards have since filed in.
“The platform is stunning,” Barrett says. “It increases productivity, savings and your revenue stream. It’s a tool used to provide exemplary facility services. And it’s a good example of what’s possible in the industry.”
Rothman compares the process to shipping giant FedEx’s transition to putting handheld devices in the hands of drivers, calling it “a real change that matters.”
“You have to innovate,” Rothman says. “Everything has already been done the old way. Find a new way to do it better, or someone else will. Your customers will never have a reason to fire you if the quality is there, you anticipate their needs, and adapt to change.”
SMS' Proprietary Technology Fuels Rapid Expansion
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