Photo courtesy of LMI Landscapes

Jody O’Donnell is trying to bring more technology into his business in a number of ways, one of which is through adding GPS systems on trucks and big equipment like trenchers and skid-steers. In the first six months, he saw a return on his investment.

“Our number of vehicle incidents decreased substantially, and I just think when people know that somebody else is looking, they have a tendency to behave a little better,” says O’Donnell, owner of LMI Landscapes in Texas. Lawn & Landscape spoke with O’Donnell about how he rolled out these changes.

L&L: Is there anything you should pay attention to when you’re shopping or any features that you find specifically helpful?

JO: You want to be able to know when people are going outside of their designated routes and be notified, and we found that it helps to be notified when it occurs. You don’t want to have to go back and pull it up and then see it, and then try to address it then. Some people, the terminology of the vernacular I think in that industry, they set up a geo zone, and if someone goes out of that zone or into that zone, we get notified instantaneously via email.

Also, via the routes and roads that these folks travel on, it’ll give us speeding notices instantaneously. There’s a series of alerts that you can set up, and having that flexibility in what things matter most, I mean idling time is a big one, speeding is a big one, getting away from where they’re supposed to be going or the route that they’re supposed to be on is another.

L&L: When you first started getting those reports in, how did you address it without making it seem like big brother is watching them?

JO: I want them to know that Big Brother is watching them. We may not be watching them every second of every day, but they know we have access to data that can show us where they’ve been versus where they were supposed to be.

Ironically, the very first day we implemented it, and the guys have routes, we had a guy – he took one of the company vehicles and drove it home to go do whatever, and was there for 45 minutes. When confronted with it, initially it was denial that he ever did it, and then, when they pull-up the report there was some excuse, and then it cost him his job.

L&L: Was he the only one that you found out was doing that stuff?

JO: He was the one example and we haven’t found or caught anybody else that’s doing anything they weren’t supposed to be doing. It’s been good. I think initially it was somewhat of a sense of surprise that somebody was actually looking, and then once they realized that we were, it pretty much fell in line and did what they were supposed to do.

Interviewed by Brian Horn