GPS / Telematics

How to Defuse Driver Resistance to GPS

March 2008, Fleet Financials - Feature

by Chad Simon

The days of equating GPS use in fleets to management playing "Big Brother" may soon be over, provided fleet managers use caution when approaching the issue with their drivers.

The strategy should avoid invoking paranoia by saying you’ll be monitoring each driver’s every move 24/7. Instead, explain to drivers the benefits of a fleet GPS program, how it can work to their advantage and ultimately make them more money.

Learning the Hard Way

For the past seven years, Larry Gemma, owner of Gem Plumbing in Lincoln, R.I., has been using @Road in his fleet of 180 GM and Ford trucks and vans to monitor mileage, location, speed, and to provide employee routing and maintenance alerts.

Admittedly, he initially decided to implement a GPS system to track employees.

"We found out very shortly that employees didn’t like it and it creates a lot of conflict," said Gemma. "The drivers we ended up having a problem with were the same drivers we already knew we had a problem with. GPS just verified the fact that we were right."

He said the system quickly lost its value because employees felt management no longer trusted them. "The way we had originally implemented GPS was the wrong way, and we learned our lessons the hard way. Now we have a whole different philosophy that our employees accept."

Gemma’s "win-win-win" philosophy is part of a comprehensive incentive program to help employees make more money. As long as the company can prove cost savings to the bottom line, revenue is passed on to employees. "Win-win-win means the customer wins first, the employee wins second, and the company wins third," Gemma says. "If everybody’s doing the right things, then everybody wins."

The incentive program is designed to better the experience for customers and reward employees through pay increases. But, Gemma cautions that GPS must be accepted by employees before it can be utilized properly.

Get Them In on the Conversation

Since implementing @Road, Gemma has experienced improved efficiency and reduced fleet costs by lowering vehicle mileage and maintenance, which reduces employee downtime and extends vehicle longevity. More money is then available to invest in new equipment and for bonuses and healthcare.

According to Gemma, GPS data has been used for stolen vehicle recovery and to vindicate drivers against customer complaints about time issues and bogus accident claims. "We immediately tell the employee about that benefit and what would have happened in that situation had we not had GPS."

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