For many contractors and similar businesses, it’s important to accurately understand your costs. This allows you to give better quotes to clients, stay organized, and improve both the efficiency and safety of your employees.
Many businesses are now using time tracking to keep an eye on how long workers actually spend on a specific job. However, this relies on people remembering to check in and out at the job site.
So, how can geofencing help?
What Is Geofencing?
Geofencing is a system that sets off some kind of action when a device enters or leaves a prescribed area or a “geofence.” It can use RFID, GPS, Wi-Fi, or cellular data, but for employee tracking purposes, GPS is generally used. The employee’s phone can be used as the tracking device with the installation of a special app. Geofences have a variety of uses. For example, they can be used to send targeted ads from a business somebody is close to, or monitor activity in secure areas.
How Does It Work for Employee Tracking?
In the context of employee tracking, the geofence is a perimeter around the job site. This is generally indicated using a mapping app. When the employee enters the job site, the app applies a timestamp to their sheet, and another one when they leave. This means that the exact time the employee spends on site is recorded.
It does not, of course, record break time spent on site, which is still the responsibility of the employee. But if the employee uses their break to go down the road to get food, that time will also be recorded. Essentially, geofencing significantly reduces (or in some cases eliminates) the risk of time on site being recorded incorrectly.
It can, of course, also be used to watch for suspicious gaps in an employee’s schedule. If an employee is taking too long to get from one job site to another, then this can be investigated.
How Can This Help You Understand Costs?
Over time, using geofence zones with time tracking can give you a more accurate idea of exactly how long specific jobs take. This can be particularly important for businesses where a technician may visit multiple clients in a day. Businesses such as HVAC repair, electrical services, or even dog walking can thus develop a picture of how long their employees spend on a specific task.
This means that when a new customer contacts you, you already have a solid idea of how long the job will take, barring anything going wrong. You can thus give a more accurate quote by using that time (with, of course, some appropriate padding).
This helps reduce incidents that can happen when a job takes significantly longer than you thought it would, resulting in a higher bill and a dissatisfied customer or in you having to eat the extra time. Obviously, you can’t eliminate this; sometimes a job goes wrong or a customer gives a poor assessment of the problem. You can, however, reduce it by a lot.
This also allows you to plan for costs better, especially if you have a lot of non-emergency jobs.
How Else Can Employee Geofencing Help Your Business?
The primary purpose of geofence tracking is so you know how long jobs actually take. It can also help in a number of other ways:
- It can help with employee training by identifying workers who take longer than average to do their tasks, or who take longer at specific tasks. This allows you to do better evaluations and help employees work on their weak points. It can also detect employees who tend to rush, especially if they rush at certain times of day.
- You can track where your employees are at all times. This means that if an employee doesn’t make it to the job site, you know where they are. This can help protect your employees and also make sure that you send another technician quickly if, say, the first choice’s van broke down, without that technician needing to call you.
- It improves scheduling. By knowing how long a task should take, you know whether or not to assign it to somebody who is close to going off shift (reducing overtime cost). You can also make sure to assign the nearest appropriate technician. By having data that shows who is best at specific tasks, you can also assign employees to make use of their strengths. Although it can be harder to track non-routine or emergency tasks, you will eventually have the data you need to properly assign those too.
- Your customers will appreciate knowing how long a job will take in advance, particularly if you are sending employees into people’s homes.
Are There Any Issues With Geofence Tracking?
The biggest issue with employee geofencing is privacy concerns. The data is tracked to the specific employee (so it can be used in training), and you need to be ready to sell it to your workers as something which helps improve scheduling and safety. For example, you can talk about how the system reduces unexpected overtime.
There also needs to be backups in place in the rare event that the system goes down. As already mentioned, if workers take breaks on site, the system won’t track those. This is generally more of an issue for, say, construction than for technician visits. With the latter, employees should be encouraged to get in, get the job done, and leave rather than woolgather with customers.
Finally, there needs to be a system for marking the job site so as to make sure it’s properly recorded. Customer databases with addresses can potentially be integrated to help with this (and also allow employees to simply tap a customer name to get directions to their address).
However, time tracking with geofencing is a great tool to accurately record time, reduce costs, and provide accurate quotes to customers. It also lets you know where your people are, improve their safety, and quickly respond to emergencies. To find out more about how geofences can help your business improve cost tracking and customer service, contact Gruntify today.