It's getting easier to verify where your crews are and when they got there. And, more to the point, whether they're on the job when they say they are. Devices combining the Global Positioning System, electronic time sheets, and cell phones may remind crews and trade contractors of Big Brother, but they're also saving remodelers money.
GPS is included in a growing number of cell phones. TeleNav Track (on Nextel, AT&T, and Sprint; www.telenavtrack.com) “has more than paid for itself,” says Traci Knapp, general manager of Nobile Construction, in Branford, Conn. For $9.99 per phone per month, the service lets employees clock in and out, leaving electronic “bread crumbs” that track their location throughout the day. By reminding crews they're being watched, those who might have habitually arrived late or left early are submitting timecards that “reflect a much more realistic time on the job,” she says.
More recently, Nobile Construction upgraded to TeleNav Track Premium, at $21.99 per month. A true paperless time sheet, it instantly uploads clock in/out times, eliminates travel time to drop off time sheets, and even lets crews enter job names and tasks, improving daily job costing. Each phone can also access driving directions, Knapp says.
J. Francis Co., of Pittsburgh, uses the JobClock System ( www.jobclock.com) to tighten costs on the many T&M jobs it juggles simultaneously. The fist-size, weatherproof data-collection devices are locked down at each jobsite. Workers are issued key fobs with which they “fob in” and “fob out” as they come and go or take breaks. At the end of the week, a runner uses a PDA to collect the data for downloading into the computer back at the office.
“It's a great solution, but you have to enforce it,” says J. Francis Co. president John McCloskey. As a double-check, he still requires workers and trades to submit hours via manual time sheets. When questioned on discrepancies, “they usually say ‘just go with the fob,'” he says. “It keeps honest people honest.”
A new JobClock system, PocketClock/G, uses GPS technology to record the exact location of workers as they clock in and out, transferring this information wirelessly to the office.