Cleaning up with mobility

By Brad Howarth

For Geordie Gill and his two brothers, staying at the leading edge of mobile communications technology has enabled their simple rubbish removal business to grow into a national enterprise employing close to 300 people and which has enjoyed 50% revenue growth in the last year alone.

Geordie?s brother James founded 1300RUBBISH in 1994, having spent the previous five years organising rubbish removal with his old Ford ute. Geordie and another brother, Hamish, joined the business a couple of years later. The company has subsequently expanded to every capital city except Hobart and Darwin.

A key factor in that rapid growth has been Geordie?s passionate commitment to using the latest in mobile technology to organise the business. In the mid-1990s that meant two way radios to communicate and early mobile phones.

Early this decade, Geordie began looking at sending data over mobile networks to link workers and the company?s head office, with the aim being to eliminate errors that occurred when information was passed around by voice. He also wanted invoices to be sent by field workers directly into the company?s system, reducing delays.

?I hated how the drivers had to write down everything I said, like addresses and phone numbers, and they would stuff it up,? Geordie says. ?All I wanted was to get a simple system where they saw what I saw.?

?A big scrap pad?

Geordie spent three years researching his vision, eventually designing the 1300RUBBISH system himself and getting a programmer to develop it for him.

?I just had a big scrap pad and I told him how I wanted it to work, and he made everything else work for me,? Geordie says. ?I have no idea on the [software] coding side of it, but I know what I want, and still to this day we continue to build on it.?

Today, each step in the transaction is recorded by the remote workers using their mobile phone ? a smartphone running the Windows Mobile operating system. The system then passes job information backwards and forwards between them and head office across Telstra?s network.

An hour a day is a month a year

Since the system was installed in 2006 the business has made significant gains in the productivity, not just of the drivers, but also of the staff in the company?s office.

?I work on the theory that I can save an hour a day, which is a month a year,? Geordie says.

?If I was still running the same system as I used to five years ago I would probably have ten or 15 staff in the office, but today I have only got three, plus a call centre. So it?s an investment that pays for itself over and over again every year. It?s pretty handy stuff.

?All the drivers essentially have to dial into my server to get the information and then send the information back to the office,? Geordie says. ?They have to have good coverage for that, and we?ve got pretty damn fine service everywhere.?

The company?s next step will be to add credit card processing into the service, by connecting its mobile phones wirelessly to a credit card reader.

Pays for itself

Thanks in part to its communications systems, 1300RUBBISH grew its revenue by more than 50% last year, and hopes to do the same in the next 12 months. Geordie says the lessons that the brothers have learned from the mistakes they have made have also been a key factor in their success. Along with a lot of hard work and having the right people around.

?We just work as such a close team and we always are bouncing ideas off each other and making sure that we make the right decision,? Geordie says. ?The software system that we use internally to put all of my drivers on the jobs saves us so much time and money. But you need a partner like Telstra to back it up.?

Source: Australian GO magazine