10 Tips for Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees
Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees is an uncomfortable conversation for most fleet owners, but it does not need to be. One of our most popular web pages over the years has been about that subject, so it is clear that new clients are looking for an assist. With that in mind, Kim and Eron decided to have a brutally honest discussion about what they have seen over the years when deploying new fleets with tracking technology.
In this interview, many of the most sensitive questions are answered and a lot of good advice shared. Even if you have already deployed your fleet, a refresher meeting with your drivers to clear the air regarding any misconceptions is beneficial. We want everyone to get off to a great start by introducing GPS fleet tracking to employees in a positive way.
Transcript of Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees
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Hi everybody! This is Eron with Fleetistics and today I’m with Kim Thoman, who is our business analyst. Between the two of us, I think we have over 40 years of GPS tracking and telematics experience, so we have seen quite a few things over those years. And today we’re going to be talking about introducing GPS tracking and telematics to your employees.
When we look at our analytics on our website this is actually one of the most popular web pages that we have and we get a lot of questions, and have always gotten a lot of questions about you know what do employees think what’s going to happen are employees going to quit things of that nature. And so we created a guide which we will link to so you can download the guide and you can read through this information on your own at your own speed and time and we’re going to talk about a lot of things in those guide, but that guide’s there for you to access and to utilize then to reference, and really kind of take and make it your own and then use that to create a plan so everybody that is part of this decision making process is comfortable with the way this is going to go. So, Kim, kind of get us started with some of the things that, that you have seen or you know. You know, what are some of the initial comments that people need to know and understand about rolling this technology out?
A Little Background
Sure so, just a little background having us been in the industry for so long, I think that in today’s day and age, especially in service and delivery type atmospheres it’s probably few and far between where a driver hasn’t at some point work for a company that has a GPS telematics device installed. So it’s a little bit easier to kind of have that introductory meeting. But some of the things that initially when this technology came out is it’s always had this negativity surrounding the big brother atmosphere, and that is really not at all one at all what this is. We definitely promote it from an efficiency perspective improving different route management. It’s really to monitor your fleet the increased fuel savings. It’s not designed for somebody to sit in front of a computer and watch dots on a map. That’s not the functionality and we want to explain and communicate why it’s being deployed within your organization.
I have sat on numerous different company meetings where as the GPS representative I could handle some of the technical type questions, and then when it comes to some of the policy questions where somebody says, “What happens if I do get caught speeding?” well that’s something that is definitely going to have to internally be determined by company policy and upheld. In my opinion if you have all this data you really have to instigate some policies that surround it that also fit with the culture of your organization as it is today. Otherwise the data is just data, and as we know that’s it it just provides you with information. It’s what you do to act on it.
First Things First When Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees
So the first thing I would recommend is that you once you have the solution, before you even get it installed in the vehicles, I would sit down. And if you have to do it in groups because of shifts that’s fine, but sit down with your employees and explain why and that you are deploying the solution in your fleet. This will not only give them the opportunity to ask questions about it, but you’re being open and up front with them. You’re not trying to sneak a solution in and then be, for lack of better words, shady as to why you’re deploying it. You are being open up front about the efforts you are to maintain savings keep the drivers safe. You know as I’ve probably said in some of these other videos, it’s all about every driver coming home safely every day. That is part of the functionality of the solution, so it’s really an effort into how you describe it and position the solution, because it can really be a benefit to the employees as well. They can be rewarded for good driving behavior and coached for bad.
Yeah, back when this whole thing started we got a lot of requests for hey can you install it so nobody knows, right, and 100% of the time the response is yes, but it’s a really, really bad idea. If you do something like that you’re driving a wedge into the team, right? And if management is just another employee that has a different function than a field service technician that goes out and interacts with the customers and generates the revenue. Doing something to split the team like quote unquote spying on somebody out there, doesn’t do anybody any good. You know if the team is moving in the same direction then this is a technology that is going to benefit the team. And you have to approach it that way.
What about Big Brother?
Now I’m a little bit less concerned about big brother approach myself. Big brother’s part of it. When you know, when I first rolled gps tracking technology out and I was a customer, I was a user back in the 90’s, big brother was a part of it. You know it was. You can’t deny that, and I think if you do, and this is my opinion is if you try to say it’s not big brother, people are going to look at you like you’re lying, right? Because you will catch people doing something wrong. But what we want to do is focus on catching people doing something right, right, and make it that positive experience versus a negative experience. So, you know any part of a business that you have, you have checks and balances and audits, right? And when you send somebody into the field, what’s your method of checks and balance and audits, right?
You have a service ticket that’s only a very small snapshot of a function being reported by somebody as opposed to we need to verify routes we need to verify stop times, service quality, perhaps PTO monitoring, things of that nature that all indicate that the level of service that we’re delivering is top-notch. So those are some things to keep in mind, but I do like the group setting to roll out, answer some questions. They don’t need to know how to run the system. They don’t need to know you know a whole bunch about how it works, but the fact that hey it’s going to be there and we’ve got a list of benefits in the, in the download that you can get that list out all the different benefits but you know selling that positive side and then reinforcing that positive on a regular basis is a key part of that.
Yeah, and at the end of the day, I mean as a manager working for a company or a business owner you want to make your business as effective, efficient, and profitable as possible. And why not take the opportunity to use this type of technology and harness those savings and additional revenue, because it would be a bad business choice to think otherwise when it’s proven that these solutions will save money.
And you can look at individual positive performance changes so you can get a driver score and you can work with each individual driver but you can also look at the entire team and the team might be a service group or a delivery group or a repair group you know, there’s always a sales group. Whatever the group is, then you can start to look at the team as a whole and look at the members within the team and help them understand how they’re either meeting or not meeting the standards that are set. And you, you know you come up with best in class who are the top performers in each one of those groups, and then how do you measure metrics of the others to get them to achieve the same results. And then what we used to do is we used to post a ranking of those scores where everybody could see them. And you don’t have to say much about them, you know people know being on the top a good score is on the top, and the bad scores on the bottom, and if you’re on the bottom all the time, guess what? You know eventually you, you’re going to get called in and have a conversation because something’s been going wrong.
Yeah, it’s that gamification taking over and uh it’s actually a really good way to just sort of organically enforce your policies because like you just said, nobody likes being at the bottom so they’re just inherently going to be trying to do better in the future. Inevitably you’re always going to have those employees that were doing something they weren’t supposed to before, and they just refused to adapt to the new technology and continue that behavior. That’s why you it’s important to in these meetings, to outline what your company policy is based on this telematics data kind of incorporated into it. That way, they understand from up front, look if you do this three times or you hit 80 miles an hour in my vehicle, that you know constitutes as immediate termination, whatever that policy might be, as stringent or um eased as it could be, that needs to be explained to them up front because then they know and they have no way to come back say, “Well I didn’t know, and you’ve got these devices in there and it’s not fair and…” Well you shouldn’t have been doing it and we’ve given you multiple opportunities to correct that driving behavior. Look we want to have you working for us outside of these little quirks with maybe some driving technique or things that you might not supposed to be doing you’re a very good employee and we want to be able to reward you for that, but we need to show that you’re putting in your part as well and following following our company policies because essentially each employee is setting representation of not only your organization, but also the standards that you want to have represented as a company when you’re in front of customers, when you are in front of other employees. It’s just important to keep things consistent.
Well you brought up like a half dozen things, rabbit holes that we can go down. The first one is you can’t, you know I wouldn’t recommend focusing on what happened yesterday, right? You’ve got a fresh start. You’re putting new technology in and what happens from this moment forward, you know, is really where you’re grading them and changing the level of accountability. The easiest example is if you have take-home vehicles and you know yesterday you were suspicious of somebody driving that vehicle after hours or something, but you’re putting the technology in today and going forward. If you drive the vehicle for personal use after hours, then you know that’s on you, you know. You know that we’re able to monitor it. You know that we have standards and you’re choosing to violate that policy. The other thing is that you know you like you said some people are stubborn and some people aren’t going to change. They can refuse to change, but at that point they’re making that choice to no longer work for you because they don’t want to adapt and do the things that you’ve asked them to do as their employer.
So it’s completely reasonable to have an expectation that somebody does the things that you want them to do and how you want them to do it. You’re paying them in exchange for their labor. You’re paying them to do things in a manner that you’ve outlined, so it makes the opportunity for wrongful termination claims. Last, you get to protect your business from that type of thing. You get a fair process where other employees get to see that you have taken multiple steps to try to retain people because at the end of the day the last thing we want to do is replace somebody. And if you think about the consequences of terminating somebody you know from a business manager perspective, I don’t want to add work to my plate, but what do you do when you terminate somebody?
I’ve got to go to HR, I’ve got to post a job, I’ve got to review resumes, I’ve got to do interviews, I’ve got to you know get drug testing done, I’ve got to you know bring them in, now I’ve got to put them on a training track… all of those things are a consequence of letting somebody go, where it is way way easier just to get them to change the behavior, right? Yeah, and you can do that in a positive way, so not everybody’s going to be immediate to get on board.
A Real Life Example
You know when I was with Orkin Pest Control back in the 90’s, I had a technician had 19 years of experience. I still remember his name. His name was Bart, and Bart would go to his customers family events, birthdays, picnics. I mean that’s how close he was to the customers, and Bart actually quit working because he felt that you know things had to be done his way and customers would never agree to change. Well he was wrong, and after you know he quit, we ran his route anyway and customers remained happy. He actually came back and said, “You know what? I’m gonna do this. I’ve had time to think about it.” And within two, three months Bart was singing the praises of you know being able to make his route more efficient and get the same amount of work done because Bart was older at that point and he was getting the same satisfaction and joy from the customer interaction but he was getting done at 5:30 instead of 8:30, and you know he realized you know at his age he had more opportunities to go do the things that he wanted to do. So in the long run that that structure, accountability, efficiency, allows those types of benefits that you don’t realize come about in the you know in the long run, so it is a lot more than just you know hey, someone’s going to be spying on me. It’s about making the business the best it can be.
Absolutely! I can say that if I were a fleet manager or of any business whether it’s government, private sector, and it didn’t have GPS, I’d be pushing for it from day one. (Yeah) I just think it’s an invaluable tool.
I had gps tracking on my truck. I brought the technology to work in pest control back in the 90’s, and then as part of that roll out it got put onto my truck and I was never the type of guy that didn’t do my job, but every time I ran into a quick trip in Atlanta, I was thinking you know, you know I need to be efficient, because in the old days the antenna was on the roof. So every time you came out it was a visual reminder that you know, hey there’s somebody that could be looking and am I doing the right thing when no one is looking? And there was never a problem, but it kept me you know kind of focused on the concept of efficiency. So it wasn’t a it wasn’t a big deal but you know it is a reminder. And posting driver scores in the break room as part of that process, you know, so let’s talk about policy. Have you any particular recommendations about policies? I know we have a policy that was originally written by Orkin back in the day that we’ll also make available for download. People can read that and talk about it and what have you make it their own.
I recall with the Orkin policies you know there are certain ones that they have a little bit more extended for warnings after one, two, or three, but there are, when i was referring to hey if you go 80 miles an hour or higher in one of our company vehicles it’s immediate termination. Some companies might think that’s a very harsh policy, but you know what? It’s very smart and you know safety is a culture. So we want to make sure that just as well as you have formed your safety policies you format your GPS policies around those. So you tie them back to so if you have a straight up 80 mile an hour and they might have had that policy before they implemented GPS, but they had no way unless you rode around in the vehicle with the driver which obviously is not productive. We have better things to do with our day. But it you know it gave them, it gave them that visibility. So the policy was there before. Now they’re just tying it in with the tool that gives them the visibility to actually act on the policy.
So my recommendation is to review your current company policies that come, that you have today with your vehicles, and use those to implement your policy structure with GPS. So if you already have a three strike warning for when somebody does speed 10 miles over the posted speed limit for example, wherever they are, then enforce that. Give them a warning. Give them another warning, and then give them their final notice. You know, you need to make sure you have some sort of policy, give, you got to give them time to fix that driving behavior. You know you can’t just say hey you need to change this and then expect it to happen overnight . Give them a little bit of time to show you that they can do what the pump company policy is asking of them.
Does that have to be, you know you don’t have to be warning, warning, termination. It could be, right, verbal warning, written warning, suspension, you know a one day off, three days off unpaid, and then determination, you know, if if you wanted to. I mean, find what’s going to work for your business and the culture of your organization. You know Orkin happened to be very strict. I had a, I had a service manager got fired, and this is the other point about policy… don’t roll out a policy that you are not willing to enforce, right? If you are going to say “if you drive 80 miles an hour you’re done, period, no exceptions,” and then you don’t enforce it the first time it happens because it’s your best technician, then every technician after that’s going to have a legal claim against you for not fairly applying you know your policy.
So be smart about what you’re willing to do, and it varies by industry too. There’s sometimes, and it’s supply and demand, right? In some industries technicians are super hard to find. It takes a long time to find somebody with the right skill set and experience to do the job that you want to do. You’ve got to be more lenient to keep your business running. If you fire all your technicians, what happens? You know your business stops generating revenue, so you’ve got to apply that practical application component. But as supply increases as there’s more and more people available, then you can change the, you know the standards to be more and more strict.
The other thing is, I would not bring this up in a meeting, by default if you explain that people can see where you go and what you do and where you stop and how long you’re there, everybody understands that there’s these types of this type of data is visible it creates visibility right so you don’t need to have a negative conversation in the rollout conversation. They just need to know that this type of thing is available downstream for driver behavior modification. And I think the other thing is you know well if someone drives 80 miles now they get terminated.
Well the gps systems today have buzzers in them. Right? They can warn the drivers and actually play an audio file that says “hey you’re speeding you need to slow down”, so it’s very clear there’s no misinterpretation of the exception that’s being generated you know, so it’s not like it’s all or nothing. There’s this process that’s important and there’s tools to help the you know the drivers modify that behavior to keep everything fair, because again, the last thing we want to do is turn over a position and have to start the hiring process, the training, and experience process all over again.
I agree with you on that one 100%!
Have you ever seen drivers quit because of GPS?
Yes, I have, but the way I look at it, I try and put my brain in, in a business owner’s mindset, and if they quit because you got GPS, then you probably didn’t want them working for you in the first place, because God only knows what they might have been doing with that vehicle behind your back before. So you know at that point it’s you have to, there are times where you just kind of got to wash your hands and move on and so be it. You know, that is their right. If they quit they quit it’s not like they can come after for unemployment or anything like that. They left on their own recourse, so you give them the opportunity. All you’re doing is making a business decision. To be honest with you, when you have employees that straight up quit like that then I’m like, okay well at least I know now, and you just find somebody to replace them at that point. Whether they were your best technician or not, there is a reason why they’re going to make that decision. They either have something else lined up, they really can’t deal with the GPS tracking them, or you know they they they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
It’s accountability, that’s where the problem lies. The accountability to do the things that need to get done . I can think of two stories. One is, I have only known of one situation where in 21 plus years where three electricians quit, and they were generating ten thousand dollars a month in overtime. And when the owner, you know this local electric company here in Tampa, when the owner announced that this was going to be implemented, those three guys quit before the GPS were ever installed, because they knew the game was over. They were gonna go they’re gonna just go to the next electrical company and do the same thing. And what they found was that, the owners found was that A, the the ten thousand dollars a month in overtime went away immediately, they didn’t have a lack of service, they took the three routes and they spread load amongst the other service technicians, they dropped their payroll by three people, they dropped their trucks by three people, and they got rid of ten thousand dollars in overtime. That system literally paid for itself before it ever even got delivered to customers location, but that’s the only time in 21 plus years that I know of, that you know somebody quit. Obviously they were stealing.
The other time was in Oregon back in the early part, we went from 32 routes to 27 because we were able to see the inefficiencies of, of the routes and we took six routes, we spread load the the customers across the 27 remaining routes, we got rid of three vehicles you know, three drivers, and not that we needed to, but you know we tried to find work for them elsewhere, there’s not they were bad they were just you know there wasn’t enough to do once the routes got efficient. There wasn’t enough work to do to keep everybody busy so they couldn’t earn commission to feed themselves and things like that, so you know some changes had to be made to help everybody. But those are the only two times I can think of, yeah.
I’ve only had that in one circumstance myself and it’s few and far between you know, very rare.
1o Key Points When Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees
I wanted to run down, I’m just going to read the employee benefits that we have in this document and there’s nine of them. So you know, download it and then read the details and then figure out how this relates to what you guys do.
Higher customer retention, that’s kind of interesting so read on that one.
Protection against false claims, we kind of mentioned that.
Service time tracking, you know, is time at the job site a key component of quality service? When is it too much? When is it too little? A hands-free mileage log, you know how many miles are you driving on a route? Why are some routes driving more than others? Can you move to a vehicle take-home policy, and what benefit does that bring you know does it improve things or does it cost more to allow that? What are some of the things that you need to be thinking about? Increased company agency profits. How does accountability, efficiency, productivity all tie into the gps data and how does that lead to profitability?
Number seven, what new incentives might be available based on the information that you’re collecting?
Number eight is increased driver safety. Right, I think we can think of a lot of things related to driver safety and how that impacts profitability, risk, everybody coming home at night and those things.
And then number nine, improve driver morale. I’m not gonna say anything else about that because that’s really kind of like a big question mark that you get from how does morale get better because we’ve improved accountability across the organization.
So, Kim, any final thoughts on introduction of gps tracking and telematics to employees before we wrap it up?
No, um well actually yeah one one thing. I just want to reiterate that again we just we want to enforce. Please don’t try and make this something that you’re hiding from your employees. The more open you are about it, the more adapting that they’re going to be to it. Especially if they’re brand new to the technology. It does become part of your culture within your organization and you’ll find the improvement and the honesty that you share with them is, is going to, there’s a part of that question mark that you just threw out there. Believe it or not that has an effect on building morale. You make a better work environment for everybody because things are running smoother and then everybody’s a little bit happier when they come to work. So just, just be open and honest and make sure you make it very clear what your policies are in relationship to the technology.
I want to add a number 10 to that list, which is hiring better drivers right from the start. I’m not going to say how or why that happens but we’ll add it to the document and make it available for download and then you can go read about how do you hire a better driver before they’ve even gotten into your truck. That’s it for this particular video. If you liked the video please hit the like button down below, subscribe… we’re doing more of these videos to help you basically run your business a little bit better, give you some ideas, some practical ideas on you know things that are going to help you across your business, not just your fleet. But you know whether it be accounting, or marketing, or customer service, things like that we’re just bringing our experience in working with so many different companies across the country back to you so you can tweak and use what little bits of information you find important to you, and grow your business. We want to see your business grow. When you’re healthy we’re healthy. We appreciate your business and we look forward to seeing you on the next video. Have a great day!