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RFID Keeps Service and Repair Vans Stocked and on Time

Dr. Know PC Medic believes tracking tools and assets will help it become the McDonald's of the computer repair franchise industry.
By Bob Violino
Mar 07, 2011Dr. Know PC Medic provides on-site technology service and repair to residential clients and small- to medium-size businesses. The Peoria, Ill., firm, which launched its business in late 2009, plans to begin making franchise offers nationwide late this year or by early 2012, with the goal of becoming "the McDonald's of the computer repair franchise industry," according to Corbett Speciale, the company's president.

"Franchisees invest in systems that have a track record of success, strong brand, excellent training, marketing and other benefits [that] make the investment a solid choice," Speciale says. Dr. Know PC Medic has been focusing on developing these traits in preparation for its franchise offer, and RFID "is one of many components to our system that complements our overall strategy to help make future franchisees more successful."

Job-specific small parts toolbox, tagged

In fact, Speciale notes, the company sees the full implementation of RFID systems for managing inventory and assets as a main driver of future success for the company and its franchisees. Dr. Know PC Medic's initial foray into the technology—a tracking system that enables the company to manage tools and other equipment on its vans—is already showing results.

According to Speciale, the company is taking a strategic, proactive approach to investing in RFID, rather than aiming to solve a single problem or business process need. "We are very forward-looking and spend a great deal of time analyzing process before implementation," Speciale says. "We look at what other competitive companies are doing, and develop systems that are unique. We liken ourselves to being a purple-cow company—one that is unique in every way we approach the market, worthy of being talked about and consistent in the manner and way we go about our business. We believe our current and future implementation of RFID will help us to do that."

Job-type-specific toolboxes, tagged

In 2010, the company selected Ford's Transit Connect as the primary vehicle for its fleet operations, because of its "visionary approach in mobile technology," Speciale explains. Specifically, he says, the company was attracted to the in-dash Microsoft Windows CE-based computer and built-in DeWalt Tool Link RFID system that could be used for managing tools, inventory and equipment used in servicing clients. It was "the only solution we were able to find that incorporated all the aspects of a 100 percent mobile inventory/asset management system that could be expanded upon," he says.

The company did not put significant thought into a comparative analysis of competitive technologies when looking into systems that could be used to manage tools and other assets, Speciale says. "We believe RFID technologies stand alone in what they can provide," he says. "Bar-code solutions are very limited in comparison to RFID, and the reduced cost benefit from bar-code-only solutions is easily overcome when the RFID investment is aligned to long-term business goals, future market conditions and other key performance initiatives. It is difficult to get very excited about what bar-code solutions will provide in the future."
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