But they wouldn’t be relying on the popular song that would send kids running outside with pocket change to buy a tasty treat. In a move set to change the face of the ice cream van industry, hungry customers of the Guilford-based Tony Fresko will now also be able to track their nearest van on their smartphones in real-time.
Indeed, Britain has unveiled its most high-tech fleet of ice cream vans, which had been given a ‘technology makeover’ by O2 Business in order to demonstrate the tangible benefits that technology can offer to companies, no matter the size.
“O2 Business contacted me directly to see if I’d be interested in working with them to help show the transformative effects of technology on a traditional small business like ours,” said fleet manager Andy Newland.
He mentions that the “business has been going for 40 years and is a real success story in the area with 19 vans serving corporate events, weddings and day to day ice cream sales for the general public. After graduating from university, I came across the position of fleet manager for Tony Fresko and jumped at the chance to help manage such an established local business.
“But we’ve been going for four decades and previously had only used paper records to organise our diary. As well as making it difficult to communicate the new schedule with the drivers on our fleet, we would also be in trouble if the diary ever got lost! So I thought the chance to overhaul the business would be a great one and an ice cream tracker app was too good an opportunity to pass up!
“Now that we can store our calendars in the cloud, our booking schedule is a lot more secure and our drivers can access it from their devices, making it a lot easier to communicate changes,” Newland said.
“Moving to the cloud made a huge difference to my work/life balance as previous to the makeover, I had to return to the office every day to schedule in client bookings and organise rotas. Now I’m able to access these documents digitally, I can do it on the go using my tablet during quiet periods out in the van, which has also meant I can get home a lot earlier.”
Newland also seemed surprised regarding how this decision impacted employees: “One of the biggest challenges we thought we’d face was persuading the team to use the new technology, and changing from the established way of doing things. However, I’ve been very surprised at the take up and impressed. Most of the team set up email on their new smartphones within the first week and they’ve been really diligent with checking the calendar for bookings.”
“One of the other perks is that I can also see where my fleet of vans are at any one time, so I can make sure we’re covering a decent area and I get the reassurance that everything is working well.”
After a full assessment of the company, O2 Business equipped Tony Fresko with the latest 4G enabled smartphones, tablets and cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 software. This allows drivers to digitally map their routes and manage costs away from the office.
It seems that technology is really taking the world by storm and surrounding every sector and facet of business in a tight iron fist – even the ice cream industry. But what we do know is that it has enabled many a business to grow, something that has not been lost on Newland.
“Our ambitions are to expand our fleet and keep on growing,” he said. “Technology will play a vital part in this as we’ll have to start keeping track of things like schedules and inventories digitally to make our business more efficient. In addition, with a larger fleet, communication will also be vital which is where smartphones are incredibly important.
“Essentially, technology is going to only ever play a larger role in helping us grow from a small business to a large business. I’d recommend other small businesses leaders to start thinking about how they could use technology to improve their business, it’s been much simpler than people would expect.”
He concludes: “I’m proud to say we have the most high-tech ice cream fleet in the UK.”
The ’Ice Cream Van Tracker’ app is available for free on all Android smartphones to download for any customer wanting to locate their vans without having to rely on hearing the familiar chimes of ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’ or ‘Greensleaves’.
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