Is GPS Tracking Worth It?

Are you considering GPS tracking to keep tabs on your crews?

With technology expanding it seems that there are almost endless options to do so these days.

You can have instant updates, notifications when they leave an area, reports about where they’ve been, and on and on. As the list of options grows, knowing what features you need is getting harder to nail down.

Here is some general information about tracking options and a few things you may want to consider before making a big spend on a GPS tracking system. 

POTENTIAL ADVANTAGES OF GPS TRACKING

There’s a certain satisfaction that’s found in looking at a map to see where your trucks are. Seeing all of that activity going on out there makes you feel pretty good. Although, sometimes we forget to step back and ask the most important question; how does having this technology improve my business?

How will GPS Tracking help my business be more profitable?

Dispatch

If you offer snow plowing or any other service that occurs on an “emergency” basis, knowing where your trucks are can make a big difference in your operation. This can be especially true at the beginning of the event. Someone might call you, needing immediate service, and by using GPS tracking on your trucks, you can see who’s closest to the need, and dispatch them to the area. You can also move quickly respond to incidents that require unexpected repairs. Maybe your crew damaged a property, and someone needs to show up and fix it ASAP; with GPS tracking you can just look on the map where your crews are and send the nearest one!

Could this make you more profitable? Yes. It could make you the “king” of customer service when these situations come up. It could also help you better organize your company, both of which would increase profits.

Avoid Delays 

You or your crews can see a weather map and traffic delays in real time. This would allow you to plan around these certain events with ease.

Could this make you more profitable? Perhaps! This industry is dependent on weather. It’s possible to know which parts of your service area are soaked with rain and which parts are staying dry. If you can use the map to avoid traffic and get to jobs faster, that increases productivity and lowers fuel costs. Conversely, you could always download a really good weather app and listen to the radio instead. This method wouldn’t be as exact, but still a viable option when considering the cost of these features.

Prevent Theft

If any of your trucks are stolen, you can look at the map and tell the police exactly where the truck is at any moment. Some devices even have a feature where you can disable the vehicle’s starter!

Could this make you more profitable? It mostly depends on the crime level of your area. If a truck or equipment is stolen from you once a season it could make you more profitable but typically a theft occurs very rarely, and the police can typically recover at least the vehicle without GPS tracking. Your insurance plan might already cover at least the theft of the vehicle and possibly the gear as well.

Overseeing: The main reason many companies decide to use a “live” GPS tracking is to “watch” their employees.  You can have the device report back to you whenever they break the speed limit, when they leave a certain area, and when they are stopped for an inordinate amount of time. The idea that you can “watch” them can cause them to be more careful and responsible.

Could this make you more profitable? It’s possible that by watching your employees, you could get a little more work out of them. If anyone is making home stops on the way to jobs, or taking too many coffee breaks, you could address the issue immediately. Having the system installed could also potentially lower your insurance claims, but that may mean you’re always pouring over the maps and reports. Is there an easier and less expensive way?

CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES

Apps:

The Find My Friends iPhone app, will show you where each of your crews is on a map at any given moment. You can even set it up to notify you if they get to or leave a particular area. Android has a similar app called Locate My Friends. The best thing about these apps is that they’re free! You would still need to provide phones for your crews, but with services like Freedom Pop, Ting, and Republic Wireless coming out, the cost of a small phone plan is only getting more reasonable.

CLIP2Go:

CLIP2Go was not made to be a GPS tracking software, but depending on what you need it for, CLIP2Go might have enough information for you (and you might already be using it!). It doesn’t have a pretty map to show you exactly where your crew is now, but it does have a chart showing the jobs the crew completed, what job they are doing now (if any), and what jobs are next on their list. With that view, you can virtually see where your crews are according to what job they’re working continuously. You get one license free with CLIPxe, and additional licenses are anywhere between $30-$5 a month depending on how many you need.

CLIPitc:

CLIPitc uses the mobile device to keep track of where your crews are. To see where your crew is during the day, you can always check your crew position. If you want to change the map to satellite view, or show traffic, you can toggle the Map Options. To view a report of past locations go to Reports>more>crew route. Then choose the crew and the date. You can check the “Show Satellite” or “Show traffic” checkboxes. You can set it to ping in several different intervals from 5 min. to an hour. App usage is based on the number of users in your plan.

OTHER THOUGHTS

Do you need it?  

If your main reason for using this technology is to increase your employees’ productivity, you might be putting a band-aid on the issue instead of healing the wound. Watching your employees’ every move implies that you do not trust their decisions. Wouldn’t it be easier and less stressful if you could trust that they were working the route quickly, efficiently, and without unnecessary delays?

Let me explain—We used GPS tracking a few years ago when we were testing the technology.  It was okay, but for a lawn maintenance company, it was not worth it to us. In all of our companies, we strive to make the managers, crew leaders, and crew members self-motivated.  Make them want to do the work the way we want them to do the work. We do this by paying our employees with the piecework method.

If you’re paying them by the hour they have little motivation to get the job done quickly – In fact, doing it quickly just means they get less overtime and are more tired at the end of the day! The manager or owner is constantly fighting this tendency, trying to encourage the employees to go faster; but the employees know that if they do, they will be paid less. With piecework, the crews are paid for the work they do, not for the time it takes to get it done.  It completely changes their mentality! The employee now wants to get the job done, and he doesn’t want to waste time or resources in the process.  No need for “babysitting” with a costly GPS tracking system.

What alternatives are there?

Changing pay systems may seem like a daunting task, but it’s much easier than you think. However, if you’re not convinced to switch to piecework, sit down and brainstorm for other ways you can change your employee’s motivation, so it matches your own. Don’t just spend more money on monitoring them more closely; get to the root of the issue and inspire your employees to work hard without you watching them. Isn’t it better to spend money on tools that help them or on something that will make them more comfortable or feel more appreciated, instead of feeling “watched”?

If piecework interests you, you might want to look at the book we wrote on the subject: Lawn Maintenance, Piecework, and The Beautiful Business: Getting Your Employees to Pull with You.

However you do it, always think about what you want your company to look like in 5 years.  If you need to babysit and control everyone continuously, you’ll just be stressed and unhappy in the long run, and I’m sure you’ve got different ideas about how you want your company to operate.