Building on Mobility
For custom home building company Brad Marshall Homes, providing outstanding customer service is the top priority. "Many home builders and remodelers can provide a quality product, but few companies offer the level of service that customers need and should expect," says Brad Marshall, founder and president of the company. "Providing unmatched customer service is our mission--it's why I began this business, and it's what differentiates our company from the others."
IT plays a vital role in delivering that quality of service. "We want to enhance communications between our customers and our staff, at every stage of the process, through the use of information technology," says Marshall. "The first step was to implement a Web-based application hosted by an outside vendor that enables our customers to view the status of their project anytime and anywhere. They can log in securely through our Web site to view schedules, pictures, and plans, and to keep track of their budget."
Finding computers that could deliver outstanding reliability was essential. "We're a small company--we don't have spare computers sitting around. If we have to wait too long for a repair, our productivity suffers and we stand to lose customers," says Marshall. "We need computers that are reliable, and we need a strong service plan so we can get back up and running quickly if a problem does arise."
In selecting the notebook computers, ruggedness was also key. "For our mobile team, we need notebook computers that can withstand a decent amount of abuse," says Marshall. "Our field workers are on the go, all day--there is always the possibility that someone will drop a notebook. Our construction superintendents, meanwhile, are in environments with lots of dust and dirt. They need the most rugged notebooks available."
Marshall chooses Dell computers for their reliability and integrated mobile technology
After evaluating products from other hardware vendors, Marshall selected desktop and notebook computers from Dell. "We had been using Dell desktops already for some time, and we had a very positive experience. They were exceptionally reliable and easy to manage," says Marshall. "Our business is also located close to Dell headquarters, so we are quite familiar with Dell products and the people who work at Dell. In addition, Dell offers discounts to businesses through the National Association of Home Builders--of which we're a member. Ultimately, it was clear that Dell could provide computers that met our specifications, and we felt confident the company could provide the necessary support."
BRAD MARSHALL HOMES
COUNTRY: United States
INDUSTRY: Home building
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 5
WEB ADDRESS: www.bradmarshallhomes.com
Custom home builder Brad Marshall Homes wanted to enhance customer service, increase the efficiency of the building process, and decrease computer downtime by deploying new desktop computers for the office and new notebook computers for field workers.
The company selected DellTM desktops to provide the dependability required in the office and implemented Dell XPSTM and Dell LatitudeTM ATG notebook computers in the field for their rugged reliability and integrated mobile technology.
Get IT Faster
- Accelerated building projects by an estimated 20 percent by improving the efficiency of processes.
- Increased the responsiveness of field workers through mobile technology.
Run IT Better
- Minimized computer downtime by moving to reliable Dell hardware across the company.
- Handled approximately 25 percent more projects without increasing the workforce.
Grow IT Smarter
- Expanded to new geographic regions by enhancing mobility.
The company began to implement the new computers more than a year ago. Marshall chose two Dell desktop computers for the in-house staff. Equipped with an Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 145 GB of storage space, each desktop has more than enough power to run the Microsoft® Office software and Intuit QuickBooks applications needed by the in-house team. "The Dell desktop computers are straightforward machines that we know we can rely on for everyday use," says Marshall. "And if we want to add memory or storage space, it's easy to make changes."
For his sales force and his own use, Marshall chose Dell XPS 1330 notebook computers, each outfitted with Intel® Centrino® mobile technology with Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 200 GB of storage space. The notebooks run a host of office applications on either the Microsoft Windows® XP or Microsoft Windows Vista® OS. Equipped with Dell HyperConnectTM technology, the notebooks enable Marshall and his team to capitalize on mobile broadband access when workers are in the field. "Now field workers can access their e-mail and tap into the project management application easily, from just about anywhere," says Marshall. "The result is better responsiveness to customers. Salespeople can reply to inquiries and check the status of projects without having to go back to the office. Our customers truly appreciate that level of service."
The notebook computers also provide Wi-Fi® access for simple connections to the internal network. "When the sales team members come in for weekly meetings, they can connect to our wireless network immediately," says Marshall. "The integration of mobile broadband, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth® technology was a strong reason to choose Dell notebooks for the sales team. Now wherever they go, our salespeople can stay connected to customers."
Dell Latitude ATG notebooks offer the rugged reliability needed at construction sites
Marshall chose Dell Latitude ATG notebook computers for the construction-site superintendents. With shock-mounted, removable hard drives, shock-mounted LCD screens, dust- and spill-resistant keyboards, and port covers, the Latitude ATG notebook is built to endure challenging physical environments. "The superintendents are walking into construction zones with these notebook computers--the environment is dirty and dusty. When they go back to their trucks to work, they have to deal with knocks, spills, and vibrations, too," says Marshall. "The Dell Latitude ATG notebooks provide the rugged reliability our construction-site workers need."
HOW IT WORKS
- DellTM XPSTM 1330 notebook computers with Intel® Centrino® mobile technology with Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo processors
- Dell LatitudeTM ATG notebook computers with Intel Centrino mobile technology with Intel Core 2 Duo processors
- Dell desktop computers with Intel Core 2 Duo processors
- Dell Next Business Day On-Site Service*
The Dell Latitude notebook computers also have bright LCD screens with a special non-reflective coating that can help superintendents see the screen in outdoor settings. "The superintendents are often working outside, in bright sunlight," says Marshall. "The LCD screen of the Dell Latitude notebook is bright enough to let our team members continue to work wherever they are. Not all notebooks can do the same."
Adopting the Dell platform helps simplify IT
Marshall has found that becoming an all-Dell shop is helping to make computer management and support much simpler. "We're a small company, so we don't have an IT group. Either the operations manager or I configure and update the computers," says Marshall. "Having a consistent platform makes those changes a lot easier. Preparing the new Dell computers for employees was truly painless. And if we need service or assistance in the future, we now have a single point of contact for all of our support needs. Once we made the decision to select all Dell computers, we haven't looked back."
Customers show their appreciation for enhanced communications
By using Dell notebook computers with integrated mobile technology, the field team has been able to increase responsiveness to customers--and the customers have definitely noticed. "Our customers frequently tell us how much they appreciate the availability of our team in the field," says Marshall. "By phone or by e-mail, the customers know that they can always reach someone. Now a salesperson can answer e-mails regardless of location, whether in the office, in a truck, or on a construction site. Providing that level of availability gives our customers peace of mind. It's also a tremendous value to our business because we gain many of our customers through referrals."
Dell reliability helps minimize downtime
Deploying Dell desktops and moving to Dell notebooks has helped dramatically decrease computer downtime for the company. "In the 18 months since we started using the first Dell notebook, we have had no issues," says Marshall. "If we encounter problems in the future, we know that Dell support will provide fast service so our productivity doesn't suffer. One of our previous vendors once made us wait two weeks for a notebook repair. With Dell, we have a Next Business Day On-Site Service plan for all our equipment so we can keep working and keep our projects on schedule."
Mobile technology helps company manage approximately 25 percent more projects at once
Moving to Dell notebook computers helped Brad Marshall Homes increase the number of projects it can handle without having to increase the size of its staff. "Because of the size and complexity of the homes we typically build, superintendents could previously handle only two or three projects at a time," says Marshall. "But using the mobile technology integrated into Dell notebooks, they no longer have to run back to the office throughout the day. Now they can manage up to five jobs at once, depending on the complexity of the home." Marshall estimates that the field team can manage 25 percent more homes by having electronic information available in the field and eliminating frequent trips back to the office.
Dell technology helps shave up to two months off the building process
Dell computers are also helping the company to accelerate the home building process. "We build custom homes, so the customer can select a myriad of elements for the interior and exterior. When we receive those choices, we need to contact our vendors, request quotes, and then ask for approvals from the customer," says Marshall. "By using Dell notebook computers and mobile technology, project managers can complete many tasks remotely, which helps speed up the entire building process. It used to take up to 12 months to finish a home. Now we often complete a project in 8 to 10 months. Clearly, finishing a project quickly makes the client more satisfied, and it saves everyone money."
Brad Marshall Homes plans to build on success
Marshall is exploring additional ways to integrate technology into his everyday operations. For example, he plans to implement server and storage technology to accommodate growth and enhance the efficiency of operations in the future. In the meantime, he sees great potential for expanding the geographic scope of his business. "We started as a small-town building company, but as our reputation grows, we're seeing increasing interest from new places," says Marshall. "Using the mobile technology integrated into Dell notebooks, we can send field workers just about anywhere to build houses, and they will still be able to connect with the home office. With help from Dell, we're envisioning some exciting possibilities."
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