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8 Tips to Gaining Driver Buy-in on a Telematics System

December 30, 2010

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One traditional hurdle to implementation of a GPS fleet tracking and management system is the "Big Brother is Watching" scenario. You might be considering one such system today, and you might be mulling over this very concern. What kind of driver pushback will I get? Will I lose good people? How do I have that conversation with my drivers?

We've been covering GPS and telematics technology in Business Fleet magazine for 10 years, back when telematics had a capital "T" and the industry had acronyms such as AVL, for "automatic vehicle location."

The systems have gotten much better, cheaper to install and run, and easier to manage. And as systems become ubiquitous in fleets, drivers have become more compliant to them.

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But the Big Brother issue lingers. In the course of interviewing fleet administrators over the years on how they use their systems, I have asked them how they've dealt with the so-called Big Brother issue with their drivers. Here is a compendium of tips they've imparted to help you with the process:

- Make sure your drivers know that you have an obligation to manage your assets as efficiently as possible, for the good of the company and your drivers. This is especially relevant coming out of the recession, during which all businesses have had to reevaluate practices and tighten processes.

- Don't spring the new system on drivers after you've installed it. Catching an employee red-handed through a sneak attack might give you the "gotcha moment" you were looking for-but at what cost? Fleet managers have recounted how this has backfired and left ill will with employees.  

- On the contrary, get your employees in on the conversation before you install a system. Involve key drivers in the process of choosing a system. Having buy-in from respected employees will spread goodwill virally.

- Know exactly what your system can and can't do before you have the conversation. If you don't know what you're talking about, your drivers won't have confidence in the game plan.

- Explain how the system will benefit the company: A system could lower liability and insurance costs. Improved routing will get more jobs done in a day. Diagnostics keep vehicles better maintained. These all contribute to the overall bottom line.

- Explain how the system will benefit the drivers: Telematics systems are routinely used to protect drivers against false claims regarding jobsite customer disputes, vehicle damage or driving infractions. Some of the hassle of doing paperwork in the field can be reduced. Improved routing helps drivers get to a destination with less stress. As well, improved efficiency allows more money for bonuses and raises.

- Set rules for infractions from the get-go and stick by them.

- Implement an incentive program. With metrics readily quantifiable, it's a lot easier to identify-and reward-good behavior.

Your employees no doubt witnessed the pain of the recession alongside you in the form of layoffs and cutbacks. Now, more than ever, they get the idea that business efficiency is paramount.

These fleets report that when it came down to it, getting drivers onboard with a system was less painful than expected. Most reported having to deal with at least some resistance, and many reported a defection or two. But losing them was, frankly, good riddance.

One fleet manager summed it up: "For the most part, 90 percent of our drivers are all doing the right things and they don't care. The ones who complained are up to something and they're the ones you need to watch anyway." Touché.

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Author Bio

Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris Brown is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News. Through these publications, online newsletters, trade events and associations, Chris covers all aspects of the fleet world, including fleet management, manufacturer fleet activities, the fleet leasing industry, vehicle remarketing, rental industry news, car rental taxation and legislation.

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