When you watch an NFL game, you’re watching one of the most elaborate, accurate and fascinating uses of GPS employee-tracking in the technology’s short history. GPS stands for global positioning system, and it has become shorthand for several technologies that allow us to track the movement of vehicles, cell phones and even people using a combination of microchip transmitters and satellites. On Sunday afternoons in the fall, each NFL player has a microchip built into his shoulder pads, allowing for the league to glean hundreds, if not thousands, of metrics from each game: How fast does the player run? When was he in position or out of position? Did the receiver run his route properly? Data is accurate to within six inches! Every week the NFL uses GPS to harvest data from its games in order to improve its overall product for its fans.
If pro football teams can use this technology to improve their businesses, how much more powerful could GPS tracking be for contractors whose billing depends on how their employees use their time? A study by The Aberdeen Group, a respected business intelligence company, found the following:
- Once they employ location tracking, companies average a 13 percent reduction in fuel costs
- Likewise, companies that employ GPS average a 13 percent reduction in overtime costs
- Travel time is reduced by nearly 15 percent
- Service profitability can be improved by as much as 12 percent
“With GPS tracking, you can know exactly when your crew arrives at a job site and when they leave,” says Paul Haen, owner, business manager and GPS Fleet Services sales consultant for Stone’s Mobile Radio in Grand Forks, North Dakota. “Even if you’re off by just 15 minutes a day, that loss of time is significant over the course of a year.”
Finding Your Way With GPS
Some contractors are employing GPS technology in vehicles, while others are using cell phones. There are plenty of options available, and the costs of such service are becoming more and more affordable. However, deploying GPS to your fleet and your team for the first time requires a lot more than just microchips and satellites. It takes diplomacy. Initially, your team may be wary of the technology, concerned about the possibility of “Big Brother” watching their every move. However, once everyone has a chance to think about the benefits – improved billing, increased workload fairness – and consider that GPS is no different than giving their manager a ride to the work site, GPS systems soon become just another part of the job. If workers are filling out their time sheets honestly, then GPS is a beneficial tool. If they are not, then GPS can save a business hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year.
The key to smooth implementation, experts agree, is good communication. Spell out the details of your location tracking policy in a written document that every employee gets to read. Then have employees sign a form giving the company written permission to use GPS tracking on them when they are at work. Finally, be clear about how and when GPS technology is being used. For example, mandate that GPS will be switched off after the workday is done and on the weekends. By putting these policies in writing, you can put employees’ minds at ease that nobody is tracking them when they are away from work, and that information is not being misused.
Is GPS Right For You?
As you decide whether to try GPS tracking in your business, here are a few things to consider. First, how many vehicles and/or crews do you have? A company with two trucks will not benefit as much as one with six, obviously. Next, do you have someone who can take charge of checking the data that your tracking system produces? This doesn’t call for any great technical skill (most often it is simply a matter of logging in and checking a few figures), nor is it especially time consuming. It just needs to be a part of somebody’s job so that it doesn’t slip through the cracks. Lastly, who is going to prepare the paperwork describing the service and its related policies? This is an important step that you will not want to skip.
If you decide to try out location tracking, a quick Google search for “GPS fleet tracking” will give you plenty of options for companies in your area that can help you with outfitting your vehicles or your people. Compare prices and compare services, but don’t look at the initial investment without considering the long-term benefits. “The savings in gas consumption alone are huge,” says Haen. “When people know their driving is being tracked, they stick to where they’re supposed to be and don’t drive when they’re not supposed to.” GPS tracking – if it’s good enough for your favorite football team, it could be a powerful addition to your business.
Sources: http://bostonglobaltracking.com/2012/11/09/new-study-verifies-value-of-gps-fleet-tracking/; http://www.buzzfeed.com/brendanklinkenberg/heres-the-nfls-blisteringly-accurate-new-way-to-track-player#.jaQX8emBGD; https://enewsletters.constructionexec.com/techtrends/2014/09/avoid-legal-claims-when-monitoring-employees-with-gps-technologies/