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The Equipment Blog: The GPS Vending Machine

April 23, 2015
 / Equipment / 

StuartFalknor_smallOver the years as a Regional Sales Manager at HCSS, I’ve taken a lot of calls from customers wanting to talk about adding HCSS GPS units to their fleet. I love talking about GPS because I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous return on investment available through my work with the AEMP and through the relationships I’ve built with fleet managers during my years as Product Manager of Equipment360 and FuelerPlus. Many companies using HCSS GPS have saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in the first couple of years of their implementation, and their stories always get me excited.

See how Baranko Brothers has used GPS successfully.

Most companies interested in GPS don’t dive into the deep end the first day and install units on every piece of equipment. They start with a small trial hoping to learn some install lessons and prove out the value of the units prior to making a full commitment. And in theory, this is a smart decision for a lot of seemingly obvious reasons. But over the last few years I have seen many GPS trials fail to produce the desired results, and they rarely resulted in the adoption of GPS across the entire fleet. So I began to look for a common theme across companies that weren’t getting that initial return during the trial phase.

What I found to be the most common link is that they do not have an identified GPS person in charge of their GPS program. After they installed the units, they just sat back and waited for the cash to roll in. These companies bought what they thought was a “GPS vending machine” -- put a dollar in the GPS slot and goodies will magically drop out the bottom.  

Success and ROI with GPS has very little to do with the units themselves and more to do with the classic business school concept of Change Management. I studied these concepts using John Kotter’s Leading Change and Our Iceberg is Melting textbooks. (Both are short, quick reads and if you are considering making a major change or purchase in your business that will affect your employees, I’d encourage you to read up on change management strategies. It might help add some structure to that change and give you the best possible chance for success.)



I can see how an owner or fleet manager could listen to the hundreds of salesmen shouting about the gold and riches that await those who adopt GPS and ultimately get the impression that the savings are easy and automatic. But we all know that’s not how business and investing work. GPS is a tool, just like a wrench or a backhoe, that will save you time and money if you use it effectively. And just like that wrench, if you don’t have someone willing and able to use that tool in an efficient manner you’ll never realize its full value.  

The most successful companies purchased GPS with a purpose and plan, and they put someone in place who knew that purpose and plan. Their job, performance metrics, and/or livelihood was tied to the successful implementation and use of GPS within the organization, and they had the training and tools to be successful and removed all obstacles or barriers to their success.

Most of these companies started small and pushed to create value in one or two areas (automated meter readings or idle time reduction), eventually expanding their use of GPS into other value propositions like cycle time analysis and stack reporting. And finally, the GPS data and metrics they use on a daily basis have become part of their culture, and they would fight you tooth and nail if you tried to take it away from them. This is a solid recipe for GPS success.



By the way, if you decide to pick up one of Kotter’s books, you’ll quickly see this recipe for success is no accident.  

Talk to you next week. Green work orders for all!

Have a comment or want to discuss a specific topic? Contact Stuart Falknor at stuart.falknor@hcss.com.

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