COMPANY:

Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen and Plumbing Plus, Poway, CA

OPERATION:

Remodeling and plumbing Joe Christenson, owner and president

Problem:

Joe Christenson started his business in 1984. Today he has two companies, Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen and Plumbing Plus, as well as a fleet of 33 commercial GMC and Chevrolet vans and utility vans.

From the beginning, Christenson relied on technology to give his business a competitive advantage and he has made it a point to stay on the leading edge. “Technology is continually changing,” he says, “and you just have to stay up with it if you are going to stay competitive.”

About three years ago, the GPS tracking and fleet management system the companies had been using began to fall behind in capabilities while steadily raising monthly user fees, according to Christenson, so they began to shop for new solutions. “We were in a growth mode and adding new trucks, so the timing made sense,” he notes.

Solution:

Christenson selected Networkfleet from Networkcar for in-vehicle GPS and driver performance monitoring. “The Networkfleet system gives us lots more capabilities than we had before,” says Christenson. “It sends us oil change alerts, for instance, and also monitors emissions for us, so we don't have to do smog testing for the State of California. That function alone saves us $60-$70 every time we can skip that procedure.

“Technicians can take their vehicles home at night, but they can't use them except for business,” he adds. “We also have a policy against going over the speed limit or exceeding 70 mph. The onboard system allows us to track that, plus miles per gallon. We had a technician who was siphoning gas for his wife's car. The Networkfleet system enabled us to spot the disparity in his mpg as compared to the rest of the fleet and address the problem.

“On the plumbing side of our business, we use flat rate billing based on averages,” he continues. “We monitor the time a technician arrives at the job site and the time he/she leaves. That eliminates any disputes about time spent on the job. I also know where all our vehicles are all the time, so we can dispatch the closest available vehicle.

“On the remodel side, the Networkfleet system works basically the same. Remodel technicians are paid by the hour, though, so also we use Xora GPS Time Track for Workers, which runs on GPS-enabled Sprint phones,” Christenson notes. “When a worker gets to the job site, he or she enters a password on their cell phone and then the job code. We can tell if they are at the right job site by matching the job code to the GPS location, and the automated time cards are much more accurate. Our old manual time cards were usually off 15-45 minutes per worker per day, and never in our favor.

“We're very high-tech for what we do. Mobile workers don't even have to come into the office to clock in and get job assignments. That alone save us two or three hours per person per week,” Christenson says.

“Our GPS tracking and automated data collection is the difference between getting by and above-average profitability. Now everything ties together,” he adds. “We have a running total of budget versus actual for every job and we can give clients a work schedule before the job even begins.