Employee Tracking: Solving Billing Questions and Helping to Improve Efficiency and Set Goals

A Q&A with David Hood, V.P. and general manager of First Alarm

Hood: There's a reaction that "They're watching us." But our main goal was to streamline record keeping. If this system had come without the GPS [function], I still would have used it. By doing hours on a real-time basis, we create accountability. It helps people with fuzzy memories. You heard guys all the time in the break room preparing to fill out there time cards, having to ask, "How long were we on that job last Monday?" "That was a long day; I think we were there until six o'clock." The system helps out people with fuzzy memories.

SIW: Can you look at the system and say there's been a benefit?

Hood: There are a lot of things we've done to improve efficiency, like estimating and selling the project. But our operation is running more efficiently. People asked me about the system, and I said, "Absolutely I do believe it is saving us hours per month."

We find that this system keeps honest people honest. This hasn't changed the way a lot of people operate. That said, we did terminate an employee immediately after installing this system. His paper time cards were different [than his digital job stamp], and we asked him about this. That obviously wasn't the only thing involved in the termination; that kind of discrepancy usually has other indicators.

SIW: Does the tracking system pay for itself?

Hood: It pays for itself if we save one hour per employee per month. I think it's helping us. We have been meeting labor budgets this year.

SIW: Overall, what's the final word on using a location and billable hours tracking system?

Hood: The alarm industry can be difficult, because they don't look at installers as a profit center. There's a benefit to being able to show what we did versus what we budgeted. Our tracking and billing system works with our accounting system, which can show the hours an individual did, how a type of project did, and more. Mostly, I think it's helped us talk to our employees. If you can't point to measurements and scientific information, it's hard to set goals.