Just a few short years ago, the costs associated with purchasing and installing global positioning system (GPS) equipment, as well as maintaining their monthly fee schedule, were such that many HVACR business owners were not able to realize a return on their investments. But, like any technology, the costs have decreased significantly over the years, which have made GPS more accessible to more people. If you’re a contractor who is willing to invest in technology to add efficiency to your business, you should consider adding GPS tracking to your fleet. Here are the top five reasons why GPS tracking is a smart investment for your business:
1) You will be able to dispatch more efficiently — Regardless of which type of dispatch system you utilize, your operation could benefit enormously from your dispatcher knowing exactly where your vehicles are at any given time. All professional GPS packages come with a mapping function that plots your vehicles on a computerized geographical map. Nothing tells a story like a picture, and this picture will tell you exactly which qualified technician is the closest to your next emergency service call. Most systems also have the capability to account for traffic and construction, which can help your dispatchers and drivers avoid lengthy and costly delays. Additionally, many dispatch software applications can be fully integrated with a GPS partner, which takes many of the hard decisions out of the dispatch process.
2) Your payroll records will be more accurate — Most installers, service technicians, and sales people in our industry, because of the nature of the types of jobs that we perform, work remotely and are dispatched remotely. Accordingly, payroll records are usually estimates, even in the best case. Some companies will have their field employees call their hours in to a payroll service, some will have them punch in and out on a mobile device, and others will enter them manually. Assuming that none of your employees would intentionally steal time is not the right approach. There is still a propensity for most employees to round down to the beginning of their shifts and round up to the end of their shifts. For example, a technician that starts at 8:09 a.m. and finishes at 4:54 p.m. is very likely to report hours of 8-5 for that day. While this is only 15 minutes, consider the implications of this rounding in a company with 20 field employees:
(15 min per day) x (five days per week) x (52 weeks per year) x ($25/hour burdened rate) x 20 employees = $32,500 a year out of your bottom line profits for rounding a couple of minutes at the beginning and end of each shift. Your GPS tracking system will have the ability to start and end shifts at exactly the time the shifts are supposed to start and end. Even if each of these 20 employees drove their own vehicles, the savings in this example would equal $135 per employee, per month, which is far more than the GPS monitoring costs in the first place.
3) Your customer service will improve — Not only will you be able to tell homeowners with much more certainty when an employee will be arriving, but you will be able to monitor exactly how long your employee is there. Consider the example of a furnace cleaning. Let’s say you’ve determined a proper furnace cleaning should take between 45 minutes and one hour. If your GPS report shows your technician was parked in the customer’s driveway for 13 minutes, you might have a customer service problem. The same also applies in reverse. There is probably not an HVACR company in the country that has not received a phone call at some point from an angry customer that sounded something like this: “Your technician was here for 10 minutes and charged me $400 for a $20 part.” While you would still have to justify your mark-up in this scenario, you can also tell customers exactly how long technicians were actually at their homes and even can include the exact travel time to and from, as well. This is valuable information when it comes to justifying your costs.
4) Improve employee’s driving habits — Did you know that nearly all GPS tracking systems have the ability to track and forecast routine vehicle maintenance and even analyze driver habits? These features allow you to put simple incentives into place for your employees to improve their driving habits, which will lead to decreased traffic infractions, accidents, and eventually a reduction in your insurance rates as a result of these improvements.
5) Insurance discounts — For many of the reasons listed above, most insurance companies are now offering discounts simply because a company has GPS tracking installed on its vehicles, much like they have always done for vehicle alarms.
As with any technology, some providers are better than others. If you decide to move forward with GPS tracking technology for your business, be sure to do your research and read lots of reviews. Also be sure to research the labor laws in your state to make sure that you have done your due diligence with regard to the prevailing employee surveillance laws and that all of your employees have signed the appropriate acknowledgement form, if applicable.
Publication date: 12/5/2016