Mobile device solutions keep automotive supplier running at peak performance.

Run a small business for decades in the same location and some might expect you to have a “business-as-usual” mindset. But Steve Miller, owner of Miller Tool, isn’t that kind of leader.

Miller Tool—which specializes in installing and repairing automotive lifts and other vehicle maintenance equipment—has operated out of a single Kansas City shop for 37 years. Even as many small businesses struggled to stay open in 2020, Steve Miller and his team have kept the business running steady. Key to their longevity? Always prioritizing the right talent, tools, and approach for what’s next.

Once specializing in traditional in-person lifts and equipment, the business has been able to evolve and embrace new technology to stay both efficient and relevant. “While much of our business relies on in-person, onsite visits for installs and repairs, we've recently found more efficient ways to communicate, and reduce the number of in-person meetings,” says Miller. “There are a lot of things we can now do prior to a customer or prospect meeting and communicate it virtually.” Adds Miller, “Cloud technology and the mobile devices I supply to my employees have played an integral role in facilitating existing and new business.”

Staying on the same page when the team is apart.

Speaking of cloud-based tools, “Microsoft 365 and especially OneDrive have really come in handy,” says Miller. With Microsoft OneDrive, Miller’s sales personnel and service technicians always have access to the information they need. Whether they’re sharing information before a customer meeting or after, keeping and sharing it in OneDrive means all people involved can stay up to date across various projects. 

More than just enabling his team to stay on point, Miller appreciates how easy OneDrive is to use. “We try to save on-site meetings for the necessary installs, service, and repairs,” says Miller. Even for their most complicated jobs, Miller’s team can use OneDrive on their mobile devices to take photos, jot down notes, and compile other key information with ease. 

“Sometimes an in-person meeting is 25 miles away but is necessary for jobs like measuring ceiling heights, the things you can’t do over a call. In these cases, my technician may have to assess and determine if concrete work has to be done.” With OneDrive on their device, the technician can capture the information and share it back to the home office, making it easier for the Miller team to respond, order parts, and schedule next steps quickly. 

Another reason why Miller appreciates OneDrive is it doesn’t take up space on his employees’ devices yet keeps information up to date and safe. Information is stored securely in the cloud and made accessible to designated technicians, allowing them to quickly access, update, and share project files with the assurance that they’re seeing the latest details. “Everybody can see what’s going on, make decisions, and move quickly to deliver on a customer’s project,” says Miller. Even in cases where devices are lost—like a phone left on top of a car or at a gas station—Miller’s team can still access OneDrive data from another device without fear of outsiders gaining access thanks to cloud based security. Just as important, his team can reduce their dependency on paper.

On the road again with a reliable network.

While Miller has been able to convert many meetings from in-person to virtual, the business is still primarily an on-site business. About a dozen of his employees are frequently on the road using their phones and tablets to communicate with hundreds of auto dealer and repair shop customers. Miller’s field sales and service technicians require a reliable network to manage and record their time for effective scheduling and service. In addition, Miller says, “My guys are constantly using their phones and tablets for directions when they go out on a call. They may get an order from a tire company 300 miles away and have to navigate back roads and new neighborhoods, so a good connection is vital to ensure arrival at the right location, on time.” In the same way Miller’s customers rely on high-quality vehicle lifts, compressors, and equipment with service to match, Miller and his team rely on T-Mobile network coverage and devices to stay connected.

Mobility expertise that’s always within reach.

Whether his employees need help configuring their phone, adding apps, or even replacing a lost device, Miller has confidence in his mobile solutions. “People get in an absolute panic about their phones, but that’s not necessary, as there’s always expert help nearby.”

“We went over my business account and the expert showed me how I could reduce my bill and start saving about 20 percent.”

Steve Miller, Owner of Miller Tool

Miller recently accompanied an employee to a nearby T-Mobile store to replace a phone, as well as transfer and port a number to another phone. “I thought it was going to take a long time, but the experience was really good—and the store rep helped me save money,” says Miller. “We went over my business account and the expert showed me how I could reduce my bill and start saving about 20 percent.”

For Miller Tool, keeping the business running anytime, anywhere—and in an industry traditionally requiring in-person, on-site meetings—is quite an achievement. But beyond choosing the right network, devices, and virtual tools to streamline an on-site business model, much of the business’ success can be attributed to maintaining a positive mindset. When asked what advice he has for other small business owners, Steve Miller says, “Always have a back-up plan and don’t ever give up”.

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