If you are a contractor who has made the move to a global positioning system (GPS) to track the movement of company vehicles, you have probably heard all of the negative feedback you want to hear. Wait, don't put downThe News. I'm not going to add any more slings and arrows to the debate.

And I'm not going to go into a detailed description of the system, which uses satellites orbiting the earth to track just about anything with a receiver. Type in "GPS" into a Web search and you will find no less than 7,870,000 related Web sites. Nope, I'm going to take a moment to counterattack the arguments your techs are making when they express their disdain of GPS systems.

You Don't Trust Me

The most common complaint from techs is that owners install GPS because they don't trust the techs. The techs assume that owners prefer to act as "Big Brother" and keep a watchful eye on what techs (and installers) are doing on company time. In fact, owners are keeping a watchful eye on thevehiclesand not the people inside. They want to know where their trucks or vans are parked and on what roads each vehicle travels.

Employees should be made aware of the advantages a GPS system can pose for them and the company as a whole. How should an owner explain the benefits? Here is a hypothetical exchange of dialogue:

Tech: "I've worked for you for 20 years, and I've been very loyal. Now you want to put a tether on me? When did you stop trusting me?"

Owner: "I still trust you and appreciate your hard work. I just need to know where my trucks are and how they are being used."

Tech: "Excuse me, but that is a direct reflection on what you think I am doing during the workday."

Owner: "Look at it this way. What if you are in a building and someone steals the van. We can track the thief."

Tech: "OK, so what. How often do we lose a truck?"

Owner: "Let me finish. What if our truck is involved in an accident? GPS can show what direction the truck was headed and how fast it was going. GPS could be the best witness."

Tech: "OK, but I'm not convinced."

Owner: "What if someone forgets to perform routine maintenance on the truck? GPS can tell us when we need to change the oil or rotate the tires."

Tech: "Keep going."

Owner: "And what if that new guy borrows your truck and parks it in front of his girlfriend's house for a couple of hours when he is supposed to be working? GPS logs the truck into him and you don't get blamed. And what if you are en route to a customer's home and your directions are wrong? Dispatch can lead you right up to the front door with GPS."

He's Convinced

If you demonstrate the benefits of a GPS system and how it can save the company time and money, why would your techs object? In the long run, the money the company saves can trickle down into a tech's paycheck.

The system can also save techs a lot of personal grief and money. Imagine the joy on a technician's face when GPS helps track down a thief who has just made off with hundreds of dollars of tools that had just been purchased.

Trust? It shouldn't even be part of the equation.

John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-362-0317 (fax), or johnhall@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 07/12/2004