Safety watch: Using GPS, routing technology to improve driver safety

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Updated Feb 22, 2021

GPS device mounted to a vehicle's dashboardFleet safety on the road is of utmost importance to professional landscaping companies, but how can you as the owner make sure your crews are following your company’s safety guidelines?

According to Kerry McCane, vice president of product management with WorkWave, and Riccardo Bocci, director of product management with WorkWave, implementing a GPS tracking and route planning system into your company’s daily commute could prove beneficial in numerous ways.

Take a look at some of the benefits McCane and Bocci say have been associated with the implementation of this type of fleet technology and what you as a company owner need to keep in mind when considering it.

Driver safety issues and safety training

When it comes to the most common driving issues WorkWave has noticed, Bocci says there are some pretty defined patterns such as lack of seat belt usage, distracted driving, idling, acceleration, road rage and excessive use of cellphones.

To try and combat these issues, McCane and Bocci both agree that WorkWave solutions could potentially help cut down on these issues.

“By deciding to make an investment in technology, (companies) can absolutely address these concerns,” says Bocci. “Routing and scheduling optimization are really functional to not only efficiency and making the business better but also as a first step toward fleet and driver safety.”

It may seem obvious to those who have been in business a while, but Bocci says one of the most effective methods for keeping fleets safe while out on road is to have a driving safety plan in place that employees will follow and respect. He adds that another beneficial aspect employers can implement is offering educational and informative driver safety workshops.

“In order to keep the fleet safe, technology can really help in a sense that it all starts with a good, solid plan that makes sure technicians are not overloaded and they don’t get too many jobs without stressing out too much,” says Bocci.

This, he says, is where the benefits of the GPS tracking capabilities come into play. By utilizing the WorkWave system, Bocci says employers can monitor drivers, routes and execution of the routes to make sure no one is deviating from the predetermined safety plan and plotted courses.

Having this GPS trackability, Bocci notes, also means that if someone were to call and complain about your vehicles or workers behaving badly in a certain area or at a specific time, you can go into the system and track exactly where your trucks were at the time of the accusation. This, McCane says, adds a level of accountability and reassurance to your everyday workflow.

“The technology allows you to measure all of this, but when it comes to what are the most effective methods that companies may have found for implementing these safe driving practices, I think it’s very important to make sure that the company that is using this technology is also extremely aware of it and really invests in some sort of safety/GPS policy in order to follow up properly,” says Bocci.

An example Bocci uses is drivers with a track record of forceful or excessive braking. There could be many reasons behind this action, but Bocci asks what if the driver is distracted because he/she is receiving too many calls, texts or emails from the office? Bocci says that identifying problems like this is the first step to correcting it as an organization instead of just immediately punishing the driver.

Bocci says fleet safety, driver behavior and driver and technician retention are all issues in the professional landscaping industry. These WorkWave tools, he says, help look at, solve or decrease these problems by providing transparency that can also help solve disputes.

Accountability and ROI

When trying to introduce this product to customers, McCane and Bocci agree that it all comes down to how it’s presented and communicated to employees.

For some, having every drive they take tracked and monitored can feel like an invasion of privacy or a lack of trust, but when presented with the benefits WorkWave solutions can bring to both the company and employee, McCane and Bocci are confident more employees will be on board.

“It’s a tradeoff in some cases,” says McCane. “They feel a bit like Big Brother’s watching them from a GPS and location, but when the owner does invest in the full solution, the technician can also benefit. If they’re getting paid by the job, for example, they get three more jobs (done) in a day, so their take-home pay goes up. Or they are using our mobile app, which helps them with upsell, cross-sell opportunities, so their take-home pay goes up.”

McCane says that WorkWave Service is a field service management solution used specifically in the lawn and landscape industry. Usually, it can take about four hours of onboarding to get the program up and running to be of use to a company.

As far as routing and GPS functionality, McCane says WorkWave customers have reported a return on investment (ROI) of 30 percent efficiency rate after implementing WorkWave’s routing solutions into their fleet.

This 30 percent, she says, comes from multiple avenues, like fuel savings, labor savings and revenue increase because employees are able to get more jobs in an area done during the day with the same number of employees.

“The ROI comes from not just a decrease in insurance rates and a decrease in claims and damages, but also from the other savings that come about from better scheduling, better routing, more jobs in a day and labor savings,” says McCane.

McCane says when you take a company that’s not doing any kind of routing or optimization and bring them into this type of technology, they get more efficiency in the field as well as efficiency in the office in that they can close out work orders in the mobile app and produce automatic invoicing for customers.

Do I really need it?

Bocci and McCane note that yes, there will be some pushback from companies when the idea of implementing this type of fleet technology is mentioned, and they have been asked time and time again whether or not the technology is necessary.

“It is worth noting that it’s sometimes easy to say, ‘This might be nice, but I’ve been running my business the same way for 30 years. Do I really need this? Is there something more urgent?’ The answer really is no,” says Bocci. “This is something that everybody should have.”

Bocci says there might, indeed, be some diffidence from companies in the beginning, but if the technology is implemented and presented in the right way, he says the vast majority of WorkWave customers really understand by the first month of use that they can’t do without it.

He does add that on occasion there will be a disgruntled customer with an old-style mindset that says they know better and this new way isn’t working, but Bocci says if the users are doing what they are supposed to, they will benefit from additional tools to make it easier.

“I think in the past, there was this perception that adding a layer of technology to your company was something that would be super disruptive, would take a million years and would require consultants, but now really it’s a subscription model,” says Bocci. “Our onboarding support will guide you and it just takes a little bit of practice, and you’re up and running in a couple of days.”

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