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There’s one big mistake contractors make when it comes to implementing GPS systems: communication. GPS tracking can help companies manage fuel costs, routing, driver safety and job times, but if you don’t get employees on board, the whole system falls apart.

If crew members are suspicious of a new GPS tracking system, it will be hard to use the software to its full potential. Explaining the reasoning behind the decision, sharing the potential benefits and taking a rewards-based approach can all help the introduction run smoothly.

“Historically, GPS has been very Big Brother-oriented,” says Ananth Rani, co-founder and CEO of Azuga. “There’s an inherent suspicion that something is going on.”

By detailing the need to monitor truck locations for better routing, lower fuel costs or reduce idle time, employees can see that the system will be better for everyone in the long term.

“Owners typically don’t say anything and install them secretly and then just bust their drivers, or say that they’re installing GPS so that they know what the drivers are up to all day – and that’s not really the way to do it,” says Ryan Driscoll, marketing director for GPS Insight. “And then the software is being used as a whip as opposed to a carrot and that never really works.”

To avoid suspicions and gain support for the technology, Driscoll recommends explaining the improvements employees can expect to see and highlighting the problems the systems will solve right off the bat.

“It’s all in how it’s introduced,” Driscoll says. “If you make it sound like you’re going to be looking over their shoulder all the time then that’s what it is. But if you’re using it to make your company more efficient to make more money to grow, that’s job security for those employees.”

While there’s always going to be monitoring involved, there are ways to phrase it so that employees understand how the new technology will help them. For example, tracking fuel costs will help cut down on expenses and make more money available for incentive programs.

“As long as it’s not pointing the finger and you’re really highlighting the problem areas that this will solve – and that if you solve this, it makes things better overall for the company – then it makes it easier to see the adoption that you would want when you’re making a change,” says Kelly Zehr, product manager for Verizon Connect. “So having a certain level of transparency and really helping your team to understand that this is going to save fuel, save costs, save energy, make the business better, I think you’ll be able to see a high level of adoption and acceptance.”

It’s all about deciding whether you want to use the carrot or the stick approach, Rani says. The carrot will develop buy-in from employees while the stick will make them see it as a burden.

“They treat it like something that got dumped on them,” Rani says. “Then things start to weaken because the drivers will say, ‘Oh, I don’t like this. This is Big Brother.’”

Introducing GPS in a positive way to your employees will help relieve skepticism that might negatively impact employee attitudes.
Photo courtesy of Verizon Connect
Know your problems.

Identifying specific problems not only helps employees get on board; it also helps you determine exactly what you need to buy. With a wide variety of platforms available, it’s key to hone in on exactly you want to improve, rather than purchasing the technology and figuring out what it can do later.

Are you seeing a high number of equipment thefts? Are you looking to reduce labor costs? Are you concerned that trucks are making unnecessary stops?

“Companies sometimes think they have to add this without really looking at the problem that’s being solved,” Zehr says. “Aside from really understanding the problem you’re trying to solve, I think it’s really important to do the research. The market is somewhat oversaturated with different solutions and I think knowing exactly where you need help in your business will help you navigate through the different types of solutions out there.”

“If you make it sound like you’re going to be looking over their shoulder all the time, then that’s what it is.” Ryan Driscoll, marketing director, GPS Insight
Make the most of it.

Once you purchase and implement your system, it’s important to take the time to delve into what it can do, particularly when it comes to data analysis. GPS manufacturers say contractors often make the investment in devices and software, but don’t use tools to their full potential.

Whether it’s setting up alerts to see when trucks wander off route, reviewing engine run times for the week or monitoring speeding and hard braking to promote safe driving, the data you can get from GPS systems can be invaluable. “Some of the bigger mistakes I see contractors having is not knowing what the tools can provide, not knowing the full functionality of what it is,” Bacigalupo says. “Do you know you can push a button and you can see where your trucks are? Are you looking at fuel consumption with an OBD2? Are you looking at hard braking? Are you looking at oil? There’s a lot of pieces with those devices that you’re able to pull straight from the vehicle and then what are you doing with that information?”

It’s a matter on investing the time needed like reading the manual, using online resources and talking with vendors to get the proper training.

And don’t forget to test the systems regularly, Bacigalupo says. “Don’t just take the word from the technicians that everything is working fine,” he says.