Are you encouraging texting and driving?

Here’s a pic of me and Jerod, elbow deep in a furnace.  Jerod is everything you look for in a technician…nice, polite, skilled, ethical and ambitious.  He deeply cares about his customers and fellow team members.  Jerod just graduated from his company’s field supervisor training course and is determined to make a powerful, positive impact.  It was great to spend time with him on a ride along.

Jerod has lots of cool tools to help him.  In addition to the required hand tools and job materials, he is loaded up with electronics.  GPS, a smart phone, an iPad and a laptop.  The company is moving to writable PDFs so that the techs can handle paperwork faster, and without paper.  All of this communication equipment is designed to help the office and the field team stay in touch, and move the data quickly into the accounting and customer service software.  Nice. 

There is a downside, however.  While Jerod was careful to set the tools aside when driving, I’ve noticed that not all techs do that.  I am often surprised – GASP! – and how much texting and driving goes on in service trucks.  Or, setting the GPS.  Filling out the invoice on the laptop.  And part of this dangerous problem is that we ASK them to.

Remember that Domino’s Pizza used to offer, “Your pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free!”  They don’t advertise that anymore because a speeding Domino’s driver caused a tragic accident.  Perhaps you are setting yourself and your team up for a disaster?  Consider…do you have a written policy about distraction-free driving?  Even more importantly, do you press your employees to get to the next job ASAP?  You may be unwittingly asking them to text and drive, just to keep on schedule.

Here are a few mobile technology safety tips for your business!

  • Make sure your Driving Policy is written in your operations manual.  Your employees should only use the tech tools…GPS, laptop, smart phone, tablet, etc. when the vehicle is in “PARK.”  The exception could be a phone conversation as long as the employee is using a hands-free connection.
  • Have a conversation about texting and driving.  Remember, it is the distracting activity that causes accidents.  Texting isn’t the only culprit.  Check out the INTEXTICATED statistics in this infograph.
    • In 2011, 23% of all auto collisions involved cell phones.
    • 5 seconds is the minimal amount of time it takes to review or send a text, and take your eyes off the road.  This equals driving the length of a football field blindfolded, if you are driving 55 mph.
    • Just reaching for a device while driving makes you 1.4 times more likely to have an accident.
    • Are you setting a bad example?  Are you texting and driving?  Put your phone in your pocket, or in the back seat, when you get in the car.  Lead by example.
    • Are you asking for too much communication from your employees in the time they have between jobs?  Be sure to visit with the your dispatcher and customer service reps as well as the drivers.  Come up with some communication guidelines for safety’s sake.
    • Have the dispatcher and customer service reps go on ridealongs with the field techs.  They may discover how challenging it is when there is non-stop communications from the office to the field.
    • Have the field techs do side by sides in the office.  They may understand how frustrating it is when a tech goes AWOL.  You’ll all learn something and build some friendships.

There is enough time.  Take it.  Text, call, type…with the truck in PARK.

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Ellen Rohr, The Plumber's Wife Turned Business Makeover Expert teaches business basics. Ellen specializes in helping business owners put simple business plans together. She teaches them how to make more money and how to stay focused and profitable. Ellen makes ordinarily dry-as-dust business planning powerful, easy and fun. You can find Ellen on Facebook, Google+, or visit the contact us page.

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About Ellen Rohr

Ellen Rohr, The Plumber's Wife Turned Business Makeover Expert teaches business basics. Ellen specializes in helping business owners put simple business plans together. She teaches them how to make more money and how to stay focused and profitable. Ellen makes ordinarily dry-as-dust business planning powerful, easy and fun. You can find Ellen on Facebook, Google+, or visit the contact us page.
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