iPhone in Business


Building the future

At A-Plant, speed matters. That’s because the company is a leader in the fast-moving business of equipment rental. And not surprisingly, it’s iPhone that ensures that A-Plant’s team is always on top of their game, even in the most diverse locations.

A customer might be knee-deep in mud or high up in a skyscraper when they need more equipment. Is a scissor lift available? Or an eight-ton digger? For how long? What are its specs? And what would it cost? A real-time response from a member of A-Plant’s highly mobile sales staff is essential, even when the sales rep is on another far-flung construction site.

“iPhone improves communication and increases the time our sales executives have with the customer. It makes us more efficient, saves on paperwork, and cuts down our carbon footprint.”

Asif Latief, Marketing Director, A-Plant

Instantly Responsive

Keeping track of business at A-Plant is no small task. The company — a subsidiary of the FTSE 250 firm Ashtead Group plc — has 110,000 items for hire worth over £330 million, stored at 100-plus Service Centres across the UK.

Using iPhone, A-Plant sales executives can deliver an instant quote, open a new account, view a client’s history, or create and send an invoice, even from the remotest of locations. “iPhone makes everyone in our sales team a power user,” explains Latief. “It’s better for our business. Our whole service delivery has improved.”

In fact, iPhone has been so successful with the sales staff that it’s being rolled out across A-Plant, ensuring that everyone, from senior managers to operational staff, has the ability to manage important tasks wherever their business takes them.

“iPhone makes everyone in our sales team a power user. Our whole service delivery has improved.”

Asif Latief, Marketing Director, A-Plant

Impressively Easy

Among the 120-plus sales staff, the two top performers at A-Plant currently use iPhone most extensively. But before iPhone became standard equipment, the same two sales reps had been among the least tech-savvy.

“iPhone is not intimidating,” notes Latief. “It’s so user-friendly. There was just such a buzz as we were getting iPhones.”

Synchronisation and security are simple as well. With Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, iPhone users at A-Plant get constantly updated email, contacts, and calendars, plus security features such as authentication and digital certificates.

Just as important is the message that iPhone sends to A-Plant’s customers: an up-to-the-minute image of versatility, efficiency, and reliability. “Our entire supply chain has been overwhelmed by the ‘wow’ factor,” Latief says.

“iPhone makes us more efficient, saves on paperwork, and cuts down our carbon footprint.”

Asif Latief, Marketing Director, A-Plant

On Target with Sales

Before iPhone, A-Plant’s mobile sales force started each day at the local Service Centre. Now sales reps can go directly to customer meetings and rental sites, reducing downtime and responding more quickly to customer needs.

Customer meetings are smoother and more efficient with iPhone. Rather than breaking off to call the depot or disappearing into their car to boot up a laptop, sales staff can check inventory and transmit orders on the spot using A-Plant’s internal iPhone app, Target Mobile.

With Target Mobile, Latief says, “We can now show the customer everything they want.” The app quickly links field reps to the corporate database and email, enabling them to search by quote number or customer name and instantly view account balances and complete hire histories.

The app logs customer phone calls and products discussed, and even keeps tabs on equipment they do not need. Back at the Service Centre, managers can track all quotes raised that day, which in turn enables them to create more accurate sales reports and forecasts.

Simple App Development

Using the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK), A-Plant’s IT department built Target Mobile in just three months, with no code writing or software debugging required.

“The iPhone SDK is dead simple and intuitive to use,” says John Dearden, a senior developer in A-Plant’s IT Department. “It’s just drag and drop.”

The Target Mobile app has helped A-Plant’s business so much that the company is now developing a version to run in parallel with its own extranet, allowing customers to log into their own accounts. “Customers have already asked for meetings just to see our own internal application,” says Latief.

For A-Plant, iPhone has opened up new channels of productivity and profit. “When we think of iPhone, we wonder, ‘What else can we do with it?’” says Latief. For A-Plant, that means a whole new way of building the future, with equipment both large and small.

“The iPhone SDK is dead simple and intuitive to use. It’s just drag and drop.”

John Dearden, Senior Developer IT Department, A-Plant’s

Company Snapshot

  • Founded in 1947
  • Head office in Warrington, UK
  • Equipment rentals from scissor lifts to handheld tools
  • More than 30,000 customers, including multinationals
  • www.aplant.com

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