Frustrated that his field staff weren't always thorough —or honest — in recording their hours, David Adams invested in the Jobclock Time and Attendance System by Exaktime ( “I thought this would be a good way to keep everybody honest,” says Adams, who has been using the system for two years. “It's made a big difference.”

Created by California contractor Steve Simmonds, the battery-operated clock, about the size of a tape measure, is weatherproof and can be placed anywhere on a jobsite.

Adams, who owns Design Builders & Remodeling in Sandy Hook, Conn., screws one Jobclock into a wall at each jobsite. Each employee is given at least two ID Keytabs — green for starting a job, red for leaving a job; Adams' employees have a third Keytab for leaving one job to go to another. Keytabs are unique to each worker but can be reassigned. An employee simply touches the tab to the clock.

Before payroll, Adams sends a project manager to each site to read the clock using a Palm Pilot. The information is then uploaded to DBR's computer system. Although Adams does not have it set up to do so, attendance records can be transferred to accounting and payroll services such as QuickBooks or Paychex using Jobclock's optional Account-Linx software. Recent upgrades include more memory (it holds 10,000 records), the ability to go back and check older records, and an easier battery-change.

When DBR switched from exclusively using written timecards (Adams still has employees do those as a backup), Adams immediately noticed that “guys who said they had an 8-hour day were now working 6½- or 7½-hour days. If everyone just gets you for an hour a week and you have 10 employees …” he pauses, and then continues, “you do the math. [Using Jobclock] is a way to fine-tune costs.”

Each clock costs $395 and each Keytab is $9.95; Jobclock manager software costs $395. Adams says it is worth it. “The accuracy makes me feel better, and I'm paying people for what they worked rather than what they decided to write on their time sheet.”