Coates Hire

Coates Hire

A smart mobile CRM strategy brings together the best of Microsoft and Apple technologies.

The situation

Coates Hires is the largest equipment rental company in Australia and the fifth largest in the world. With more than 230 branches and 350 sales staff across Australia, it provides more than 1.5 million pieces of light and heavy equipment to the construction, mining, oil and gas and other industries.

Business needs to take place in numerous distributed client locations, with Coates sales staff visiting clients on site anywhere from Sydney to the desert in North Western Australia. And with an extremely mobile workforce spread out across Australia, work needs to be done on the road. But herein lay a problem: given the often remote nature of the terrain covered, connectivity and network availability were a serious issue. Despite having laptops with 3G cards, sales staff often struggled to log on to the company server to access or update customer records and orders, and often laptops would take 10 minutes to boot up, resulting in delays and lost time on the job.

"If you have the right people around the table you can solve any issue. And Intergen has the right people."

Luke Keller
National Sales Effectiveness Manager, Coates Hire

The technology

Before considering a mobile strategy to enable Coates Hire’s workforce to work successfully from wherever they may be, and to access and capture all customer information on the go, Coates Hire had invested in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Coates Hire then engaged Intergen to upgrade CRM4 to CRM 2011, with sales staff enjoying its more intuitive, action-oriented interface, with specific dashboards and reports helping sales people do their jobs more effectively. At that point in time Coates boasted an enviable 98% CRM user adoption rate, but there was still one problem: how to make CRM work – seamlessly – for the sales team on the road. 

So Coates Hire and Intergen went to market to find the best mobile solution. With the decision made by Coates Hire to commit exclusively to an iOS mobile platform and equip its sales force with iPhones, CWR Mobility very quickly stood out as the answer. In setting up CWR on all iPhones, data could be entered offline during the working day, and then the devices would automatically sync back to the server at the end of the day, eliminating any issues with connectivity.

A pilot was established to test the solution, which received tremendous feedback and an estimated 14% productivity gain, comparing mobile users with laptop users. “The sales people love it,” says Luke Keller, Coates Hire’s National Sales Effectiveness Manager. “They can get in the car, drive to a job site, open their phone and get access instantly and do what they need to do in a matter of minutes. It’s helping them to be more efficient in their jobs and it’s making life easier for them.”

The sales team’s iPhones allow them to update customer information and appointment times, with all information, including phone calls, automatically captured in CRM. Aside from the offline functionality, the other major benefit of CWR is its very strong integration with native iPhone functionality, such as the ability for sales people to dictate notes to Siri, with the notes automatically saved back to CRM. iPhone mapping functionality has also proved very useful – helping sales people navigate to new jobsites. 

The outcome

“It’s a phenomenal productivity tool and our most significant milestone other than implementing CRM itself,” says Luke Keller. “We have been on a real CRM journey with Intergen, and there’s more to come. I always say that if you have the right people around the table you can solve any issue. And Intergen has the right people.”

Now, with the benefits of a clever mobile strategy showing themselves, sales staff have a system that’s easy to use no matter where they are, and Coates Hire has an informed, empowered and increasingly productive mobile workforce, not to mention an IT system that delivers information where it’s needed, when it’s needed, irrespective of connectivity blips across the country. Great news for everyone: the sales team, management and head office, and – ultimately – Coates Hire’s customers.

The business case

Coates Hire does business throughout Australia – most of it away from office buildings, and much of it in remote, hard-to-access sites. Its customers rely on it to deliver a wide range of equipment and machinery needed for all kinds of construction, mining and other essential projects.

Creating timely, accurate customer orders, and ensuring customer information reaches the right people when needed, is critical to Coates Hire’s success. For that reason, a well-integrated CRM system and a strong mobile strategy, coupled with the tools for sales staff to work remotely and stay connected, were a no brainer.

The business value

  • “Always on” functionality for field sales staff – no need to fire up a laptop each time they need to record information.
  • Regular, accurate updates to customer information.
  • A 14% increase in productivity (mobile vs laptop use).
  • Increased morale among sales staff, who love the new, intuitive tools and functionality available to them. Buy in has been driven in part by these super-useful dashboards: activities, leads and prospects, opportunities and quotes to close, and planning – each one specifying what action to take next.
  • The ability for staff to work from anywhere and at any time, resulting in less downtime and greater efficiency.
  • A more robust system – if a problem occurs with the iPhone, the laptop is there as a backup, and vice versa.


Mobile Solutions

Ensuring information is available when you need it, wherever you are.

Customer Relationship Management

Managing customer interactions to improve sales, marketing and customer service. CRM designed to work the way your business works.


Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (formerly CRM)

A powerful relationship management platform that is suited to the requirements of any organisation.


Professional Services

Using technology to help make the most of your people and your IP.

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