By Matt Ellis
Cleaning and maintenance professionals are probably not the first people you’d think of when considering who might use an Apple iPad on the job. But, operations managers at the AffinEco companies of Premier Maintenance and United Services are now using iPads in the field.
“It has improved my response time,” said Frank Cepero, director of operations for Premier Maintenance. “I spent a lot of time on the road–4 days a week–so having the iPad to respond to email, it’s phenomenal. As soon as I finish an appointment, I get into the car and use the iPad to send an email to the customer, thanking him for his time. It lets me follow up right away.”
Because of its utility and convenience, the iPad is catching on across all business sectors. According to the New York Times, “Airlines have begun to use iPads to replace printed aircraft flight manuals, navigation charts and other material that pilots are required to bring on board. The binders holding those manuals typically had to be popped open every few weeks by pilots so they could replace pages with updated information. With iPads, the updating occurs electronically.
All of Alaska Airlines’ more than 1,400 pilots now have iPads, and United and Continental Airlines, which have merged, started giving iPads to all 11,000 of their pilots in August.”
Market research company NPD Group surveyed U.S. small and medium businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees and found three-quarters planned to purchase tablet computers over the next 12 months, “with the iPad being the most considered.”
For a company like AffinEco, it was a natural choice.
Premier’s Hartford Operations Manager Sandino Cifuentes says his customers quickly noticed when he started carrying his iPad into their buildings. “When they saw me with the iPad it reinforced what they think of the company, that we are ahead of the curve. Like green cleaning–we were first, way before everybody started to catch up.”
“Leadership recognizes the value of putting the right tools in our hands,” said Cepero, who has worked for Premier Maintenance since 1997 and has used Blackberrys and iPads to improve his work flow. He says the company’s commitment to adapting to new ways of doing things not only improves service to existing customers, it sends a message to prospective customers. “Recently, when we were awarded a new account, our contact told us that was one of the main reasons why we got it was because we embraced technology and used it to our advantage to deliver a better product.”
According to its iPad For Business Survey 2012 IDG Connect found, “IT and business decision-makers are finding that the iPads can be viable replacements for laptops. Over 10 percent say that their iPad has ‘completely replaced’ a laptop. Over half say it has ‘partly replaced’ their laptop.”
Others speculate businesses will soon distribute iPads to employees in the same way that they distribute smartphones for work purposes. That’s a successful business tip the AffinEco companies have learned.
“Customers realize I can be more efficient. They certainly see there is quick turnaround on emails and requests,” said Cepero. “And they expect that from us.”