Fleet tracking has become very popular due to low cost GPS and software as a service (SaaS) solutions.  I believe the same trends that are driving fleet tracking adoption – low cost/low hassle SaaS and real time feedback – will drive a new wave of technician tracking via the smartphone.  Fleet tracking is an important capability, but it’s the technician, not the truck, that truly drives value for field maintenance businesses.

Everyone works more effectively when they believe the boss is paying attention to what they are doing.  Paying attention to the truck, however, is different than paying attention to the technician.  The truck doesn’t do the work, so there is a limit to the productivity that can be gained by monitoring the truck.  Trucks don’t make decisions, and they don’t deliver much in the way of customer service.

Armed with the right solution, a technician can provide both the administrative staff at the office as well as the customer on the job site with a rich set of work status information without ever being interrupted by pesky “status calls.”

A GPS job clock tells everyone the location and status (en route, arrived, planning, departed) of the technician.  These records also provide assistance in billing and payroll calculations.  Any calculation by fleet tracking apps on job hours for billing is just guessing because the technician did not affirm whether the job work had started or whether he was eating a cheeseburger in the truck. With ServiceTrade, we record what the technician tells us to record when he punches the buttons on the smartphone app (and nothing more or less).

Photo, audio, and video reports from the job site provide insight and color on the job situation.  Everyone can make better decisions with better and richer information, and the technician doesn’t have to waste time with painful handwritten reports or more annoying “what did you mean” phone calls from the office or the customer.  The technician will leave a better record –  in record time.

An interactive record of the work schedule and service history along with a representation of the work on a map enables better job planning and route management.  A smartphone in the hands of the technician provides a rich record of the work to be done.  The technician can make decisions that enable him to pick up work more effectively when the inevitable schedule foul-ups occur.

I also believe the smartphone will become the dominant solution in the realm of technician accountability and productivity because it is a positive oversight solution instead of a negative oversight solution.  Fleet tracking is a “big brother is watching” solution that does not offer much to the technician in the way of productivity gains and positive reinforcement.  By contrast, the smartphone, coupled with an application like ServiceTrade, enables the technician to “show what you know.”  It allows the business owner to tell the technician “I trust that you are good at your work, and I am giving you equipment that makes your job easier.  Now show me just how good you are, and go make us both some money by knocking it out of the park for our customers.”

The smartphone is not the best way to understand which technicians are doing jackrabbit starts in the truck or exceeding the speed limit (although it is technically possible using the GPS and accelerometer in the phones, but iPhone doesn’t allow it).  Fleet tracking is clearly the way to improve on these type of potentially destructive and costly behaviors.

Smartphones with ServiceTrade is the way to get the most from your technicians when it comes to driving decisions and behaviors that improve your business and your customer service capability.

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