With gas prices skyrocketing in the fall of 2008, the hot topic for many service/installation companies was and still is GPS. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and was originally developed by the US Department of Defense. It is actually a global navigation satellite system that can be used freely by anyone and is managed by the US Air Force.
Service Automation has a helpful hint that will allow you to benefit from GPS without spending a penny! At your next focus meeting when you have your technicians present, announce to them that you would like to have their trucks left at the shop for the upcoming weekend because you are planning to install GPS devices on each vehicle. Let the weekend come and go and do nothing to the trucks. Upon their return on Monday, with the idea in place that you have installed GPS, your technicians will become much more aware of their driving practices and utilization of time! Your techs efficiency and profitability should improve instantly! However, this solution is most likely temporary because sooner or later someone will find out that no GPS was installed and it will be “business as usual”.
As you probably know, the SAWIN Professional dispatch system enables you to better manage your fleet if you are utilizing “real time dispatching”. Real time dispatching means being in periodic contact with your technicians and entering their dispatch, arrival, and completion times for each service call. This type of dispatching gives you the reporting features (especially the Labor Efficiency Report) that will allow you to see who your slackers and performers really are. However, “real time dispatching” has one major flaw! The truth factor! If your technicians lie to you (God forbid!) about their status and location then “real time dispatching” is not accurate and the reporting features are useless.
One way to track your technicians’ honesty is to implement a GPS system on their trucks. There are many GPS vendors out there and many different ways to track your techs. One of the GPS offerings allows you to utilize GPS capabilities on a cell phone or on a PDA device. One of the positive attributes of this type of application is that it is most likely the cheapest of the GPS offerings available. Another positive is that if you are in a large city where the technician parks his truck and walks from building to building, you can still track their location. The negative attribute to this type of GPS offering is the fact that the technicians can simply turn off the device and disappear from the tracking grid.
Another GPS offering allows you to install a transponder or tracking device underneath the dashboard of the truck where the technician cannot tamper with the device. This application has a higher premium for installation but is more efficient in my personal opinion. The most expensive GPS offering is when an actual key pad or interactive terminal is installed on or near the middle console of the truck. These terminals allow the technicians to receive and transmit information back and forth between the GPS system and the field. This method can also be used for interfacing to the SAWIN “real time dispatching” aspect of the service dispatch module. The latest development with this type of configuration is the utilization of a Garmin or similar device and each day the technology improves.
The SAWIN Professional dispatch program will allow you to plot your service calls for each day on a map as a standard feature if you have the proper Microsoft Map Point licenses installed on the relative work stations.
Our standard GPS interface will allow you to see those service calls and the physical locations of each truck on the same map in the SAWIN system. More elaborate (custom) GPS interfaces will actually feed the “real time dispatching” portion of SAWIN and insert the dispatch, arrival, and completion times for each service call/ticket/invoice. This type of interface has a higher premium than our standard interface and requires an interactive terminal (cell phone PDA, or GPS console) to function. Roto-Rooter Plumbing in Los Angeles, California uses this type of application with SAWIN and have found that they are “gaining about an hour a day per technician”.
Service Automation is dedicated to helping you maximize the efficiency of your service & installation fleet and are open to working with any GPS provider you choose. However, the cost from us will be much cheaper if you align your company with one of our previously established GPS vendors. Please feel free to contact Service Automation for a list of the vendors we currently have interfaces with so that you can compare their offering to others you may be considering. I guess it might be time to get your technicians on track!
Contact David Haycraft at 800-774-7230 or firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
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