Two friends CJ Mahoney and Phil D’Ath got into business on a bit of a whim. They turned that fleeting moment into a thriving business by doing things others could not, and did not want to do. Coupling their ‘can-do’ attitude with a desire to use the latest technologies, Spoke put them on a path to enable better business outcomes for their remote workers and say goodbye to the desk phone for good.
Seizing an opportunity in the farming sector
Agtrans started out life providing agricultural transport in Taranaki, New Zealand.
Under the watchful eye of Mt Taranaki, Agtrans operates a fleet of state of the art cranes, hiabs and heavy haulage transporters. They provide general transport, oversize load pilots, riggers, man-cages, silo and vessel transport and tip trucks. Their point of difference? They’re available 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, and do the tricky jobs that bigger companies do not.
The two owners CJ Mahoney and Phil D’Ath setup Agtrans with little idea of how big it would become. Phil had been farming and was looking for something new while CJ had a hire business with a few pieces of earth moving equipment laying about. The original idea was to join forces and build a little side business. Phil would drive the transporter, and they were going to move tractors around and do a “little bit of this and that”.
“It just sort of grew from there,” says CJ. “We started with one truck and were very agriculturally focused, however, we changed to a much more commercial and industrial focus as we saw instability in the farming sector.”
The power of saying “yes” and having the right people
Typically, saying “yes” to every customer demand is a sure fire way to fail, but CJ and Phil made it work for Agtrans and even turned it into a strength.
CJ and Phil were able to see that the larger companies were not willing and able to do those more difficult jobs that no one else wanted to do. While they may have had the equipment, they lacked the desire and in some cases, lacked the highly trained staff required to work in adverse conditions.
“So we made it our thing that every time a new customer comes along with something difficult, we always say, yeah, we can do that, and then we go and scratch our heads to figure out how we’re going to do it. That customer led focus has allowed us to grow,” says CJ.
Agtrans have now made a living from doing the difficult jobs, but to do this safely it required them to have the right people, trained in the right way. Their staff go through significant and expensive training to gain the qualifications necessary to be able to work in a multitude of different sites and locations.
The result is that their team is highly skilled, which presented yet another unique opportunity for Agrans to commercialize – specialized labour hire. Now, local companies look to Agtrans when they need highly skilled resources for short term projects or jobs. It’s another example of saying “yes”.
Customers first, technology a close second
CJ and Phil quickly realised that with their unique place in the market, that adding the right technology could boost their market position and productivity exponentially.
It started with looking at their phone system – a typical one for a small business with a couple of landlines going into an office desk phone that would be forwarded to mobile phones after hours or when the office staff stepped out for lunch. However, CJ was ready to ditch the current phone system for something with a mobile-first component to it.
“We looked at a couple of different systems that appeared to do what we needed, but they all had some issues that weren’t quite going to fit us. And then I saw Spoke. I had a good look at it and it seemed to be a really good fit for us.”
Spoke allowed Agtrans to keep their existing 0800 business free-phone numbers and other landline numbers, but get rid of their desk phones. Plus with Spoke, providing virtual landlines, there are no more engaged signals.
Agtrans’ old office landlines (like all landlines, lines, or trunks), only supported one phone call per line. For Agrans, who had two lines, this meant that only two people could be on the phone at any one time. With Spoke, Agtrans can now handle 1,000 concurrent calls per line/number so companies no longer need to pay for multiple lines.
The more remote the workforce, the more problems arose
Agrans was also very much an onsite focused business. While they did have their 0800 free-phone number, as the business grew and more people started calling it, CJ was forced to divert the free-phone number to his mobile phone.
“The problem was I was receiving calls that regularly needed to be going to other people. We were constantly getting calls from people wanting to know where our driver was or wanting to communicate with our drivers, and handing out personal phone numbers and playing phone tag was not working.”
The communication problems became more acute when Agtrans hired a full time health and safety officer.
There were now more people to keep in touch with, and CJ was getting company calls on his mobile that he could not transfer from his mobile phone.
Something had to be done and we had an answer.
With Spoke Phone, Agtrans can now easily transfer business calls off their mobile phones and over to someone else. What’s more, they can privately chat with each other before transferring the caller, so there are no surprises. There is also an option to stay on the line after the transfer and have a three way conference call – a useful feature when explaining difficult situations.
What’s next for Spoke at Agtrans?
“We’re at a point now that we’re constantly using our Spoke everyday to make management decisions. We need to progress and get the rest of our staff loaded so we can do more transferring of calls to guys that are on the sites,” says CJ.
“Part of why we’re using Spoke is that we’ve always been a very technology-based business. Every time we’ve moved to something new, if there’s an opportunity to purchase the better version, the newer version, the more intelligent version, we’ve done that.”
With Spoke’s call recoding feature allowing for remote workers to record have high-value calls on their phones, compliance and accountability is just one aspect that businesses like Agtrans are reaping the rewards from.
If you have a remote workforce that needs to be better connected or you’re ready to move from desk phones to a fully mobile-first workforce then get in touch with us today.