If you manage field workers, regardless of the industry, then you already know that one of the biggest challenges is keeping track of your technicians and knowing who to send to which job.
Traditionally, this has relied on checking in with workers regularly, but there are downsides to this. Safety can be compromised when workers are routinely answering the radio while driving. Mistakes can be made. For example, you might call a worker and he tells you he is on Emblem Avenue … but you heard Amber Avenue, which is all the way across town.
GPS tracking can help with this and can also provide you with data that helps with any number of other challenges. And yet, 74% of HVAC businesses aren’t using any kind of field operations management software at all.
How Tracking Software Improves Customer Service and Efficiency
GPS tracking allows a dispatcher to see the location of all of your technicians on a screen at once. Generally, these systems track the vehicle, but you might also track your employee’s phone. This allows you to:
- Send the closest available worker to a customer call, improving response times. (Closest here means time, not necessarily distance).
- Monitor the routes employees are taking so as to make sure they are going by the most efficient route. There may be a good reason why they are avoiding a particular junction, but it might also be that they are simply following the path they are used to. This allows you to work with your field workers on improving travel times.
- Provide a more accurate ETA to customers based on the real-time location of the truck. This means that in addition to improving on-time performance, you always have a good explanation if a technician or other worker is, in fact, going to be late.
- Ensure that the right truck is sent to the job, if your trucks have different tools or equipment or if you need a worker with a specific skill.
- Ensure that workers are on the job when they are supposed to be.
What Other Problems Can GPS Tracking Solve?
Tracking software can also solve a few other problems. Here are some of them:
- You can monitor driver behavior to make sure that your drivers are not engaging in behaviors that are dangerous, waste fuel, or both. Combined with more efficient routing, you can save a lot of money on fuel.
- You can audit which technicians are doing more work and ensure that the workload is balanced out across workers.
- It helps keep better track of who did which job, which is important for accountability in both directions. You can work on improvement for workers who tend to fall short and also reward those who do well.
- Some systems include cameras to monitor drivers, which can help prove liability in the event of an accident.
- Tracking field workers can help keep them safe. If a field worker does not return or does not show up at a job site, you can easily track them and check in with them or find out what happened.
- Field management software can help you support workers when they discover a significant issue. If a field worker is caught up in a knotty problem and spending longer than the job should have taken, you can check in on them. If necessary, you can also provide the extra support they might not have wanted to ask for.
- By reducing drive time, the system also allows more of a worker’s time to be hours billed to customers, reducing overhead and helping keep prices more stable.
Unlike some other forms of employee monitoring, simple GPS tracking is seldom considered intrusive; although you certainly can use it to make sure they are not taking two-hour lunch breaks and reporting one, you’re less likely to get the kind of personal information that causes privacy concerns.
How Does GPS Tracking and Field Management Software Work?
There are two ways to do this. One is to track the vehicle itself. The other is to place an app on the employee’s phone or tablet. For many purposes, the latter is better, as the app can be integrated with systems that, for example, allow the employee to look up the details of the job. This helps ensure that they take the right tools and materials. The app also includes checklists for routine tasks such as pool inspection, which allows technicians to check off the job as completed or needing followup.
The other advantage is that you can determine whether the employee is in or out of their vehicle. However, one downside is that the phone or tablet may lose connection with the GPS satellite when the employee is indoors, especially if they have to go into a basement to work.
From the dispatcher end, the software gives them:
- A map which shows the location and status of every field worker. It will show whether the worker is available, on a job, or on break.
- A record of the routes taken by the field workers between jobs, which can be analyzed to ensure they are taking the best route.
- A dashboard that shows which jobs are in progress, which have been completed, and which are awaiting assignment. This allows the dispatcher to assign a worker more quickly.
- Proximity-based job assignments that allow the system to automatically assign a job to the best technician.
- Job tracking to ensure efficiency.
The system does not, of course, replace a dispatcher; there may be a good reason to override the proximity-based system. For example, a customer may request a specific employee whose work they liked in the past. However, GPS tracking and field management software makes the dispatcher’s job much easier and frees them to focus on other aspects of the business, such as providing better customer service.
From the employee’s perspective, they can get more done, which leads to greater job satisfaction. Tracking software can also improve their safety and may have other tools to help them do their job well. The primary advantage, though, is that dispatch always knows where everyone is at any given time. This allows for both improved service and operational savings, particularly of fuel.
To find out how Gruntify can help you with GPS tracking and field worker management software, contact us today. Our applications are designed to be highly customizable to fit the needs of your specific business and industry.