by: Karen Bradley
Side jobs can be problematic for fleet managers for several reasons. First, you have a huge investment in your equipment and vehicles, so they need to be used only for jobs that earn money for you and your employees.
However, on top of that, your company could be held liable for anything that happens on a job using your equipment even if it is after hours and unauthorized. Also, this increases your maintenance and repair costs and can impact your company’s reputation. And if there were an accident of some sort, your company could be held responsible.
They can also cost you money. Your employee could be servicing someone who would normally hire your company.
How do you prevent side jobs? There are several ways to do so, and fleet tracking and monitoring can be a huge part of that.
First, it is important that your employees understand your expectations, and that you put policies in place letting them know side jobs are not an acceptable use of company equipment. This includes outlining things like:
In most cases, service companies make it clear that side jobs result in suspension and even termination for a single offense. It’s important to illustrate that anything earned from a side job will not be worth the potential job or career consequence.
Employees should also understand the liabilities discussed above. The establishment of policies can in some cases protect you from legal action, making the employee who violated them ultimately responsible for any accidents, misuses of equipment, and even any impact on your company reputation.
How can you use vehicle tracking to determine if side jobs are happening? There are metrics you can look at.
A good example of this is a tow truck. If the driver had six assigned jobs, but the bed is lowered and raised eight times, it’s likely the driver did a side job or two. The same can be said of cement mixers, dump trucks, and others.
While these things are a good place to start, they don’t give you the complete picture. You’ll have to do some other investigation first.
If your vehicles are equipped with dashcams, both outward and inward-facing, you can use certain metrics to activate them if your vehicle is used after hours. You can see things like:
This information can also inform any investigation into how your vehicle is being used, and help you establish the facts surrounding the situation.
It is important to be careful that you don’t assume a side job is happening. The telemetric data you gather is simply one step. The other is that you should talk with your employee. Ask them questions and let them know the information you have. Just because a vehicle is driven or used after hours does not mean a side job is happening.
Also, keep in mind that side jobs can be done during business hours. Matching locations and work done to invoices is a good way to determine if this is happening and can be a tool you can use to talk to employees about how your fleet is being used.
Remember also that there are important legal considerations regarding how you use vehicle tracking information, so be sure you have direct consent from your employees and all the permissions you need to use the information you gather.
There are other ways to prevent side jobs. One is to ensure that your employees are compensated well with good benefits. This reduces their desire, or need, to do jobs on the side. If you treat employees well, they will treat you and your equipment with respect as well.
Second, screen your employees and hire people you can trust. Ensure your employees understand your policies, the reasons for them, and agree to them at the time they are hired.
Third, offer your employees discounts for families and friends to resist their temptation to do these jobs “on the side” for those they care about. Offer discounted work orders under your company umbrella. This not only earns you potential customers, but it allows your employees to offer unique value to their inner circle without violating your policies.
Perhaps the most important prevention is to have open lines of communication. If your employee is struggling financially, wants to help a friend or family member out, or has another reason they might want to offer someone discounted services on the side, be sure they feel comfortable talking to you about those reasons. Even if you have to tell them “no” at least they will know the why of your decision.
Trust is a big deal between employers and employees, and once it is broken, it’s hard to heal. If you can prevent side jobs before they happen with the right policies in place, that’s the best solution. However, GPS tracking, dashcams, and other data can help you detect and stop side jobs before they cause your company significant issues or cost you money.
Ready to get started with fleet tracking and dashcams, or just have other questions about how these tools can help your company be more efficient and profitable? Contact us today at EcoTrack. We’re here to help!