Encouraging Equipment Operators to Use Fleet Technologies in the Landscaping Industry - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Encouraging Equipment Operators to Use Fleet Technologies in the Landscaping Industry

Photo: Fleetio

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Fleet technology is greatly transforming the way landscaping businesses operate. Fleet management solutions provide enhanced efficiency and operational optimization through transparent, real-time data and automated workflows. However, in an industry where autonomy plays a significant role, equipment operators may harbor reservations about embracing new tracking-type technologies.

The imagery of manicured lawns and beautified yards associated with landscaping are often juxtaposed with the technological side of the business, including fleet and equipment management software. This contrast can create hesitancy and discomfort among operators who perceive these technologies as intrusive or a potential threat to their autonomy.

The idea of being constantly monitored or tracked can lead to apprehension and make equipment operators resistant to change; however, understanding the challenges associated with adoption of fleet technologies in the landscaping industry can shed light on strategies to overcome resistance and misconceptions.

Prioritize Addressing Privacy Concerns

A key step in facilitating the adoption of new technology is addressing concerns about privacy (or autonomy). Fleet managers must emphasize that the purpose of the fleet solution is not to micromanage equipment operators but to enhance overall operations. Some topics to consider addressing are safety, productivity and incentives.

Fleet technologies, especially fleet management software (FMS), can help greatly improve fleet and operator safety. Digital vehicle and equipment inspections allow for real-time issue management on failed items, and managers can set automatic alerts and reminders to be sent to equipment operators and technicians — and anyone else who needs to know — about upcoming preventive and/or scheduled maintenance.

This helps ensure better uptime, fewer breakdowns and allows landscaping crews to start their day confident that their vehicles and equipment are safely maintained and operable. Additionally, having real-time vehicle location data can be a game-changer in the event of a medical emergency, traffic accident or vehicle theft.

Photo: Fleetio

FMS and other fleet solutions don’t just improve safety, they also improve productivity by fostering proactive action. Because digital inspections are customizable, managers can tailor inspection forms to specific vehicles and equipment based on OEM recommendations and service and inspection histories. Custom inspections cut down on clutter, and inspection items can be organized in an organic way to decrease the time it takes to fill them out.

While FMS and other fleet technologies provide the ability to quickly surface operator behavior issues — either behind the wheel or at the jobsite — that may need to be addressed with coaching, they also present an opportunity to highlight top employees. Incentivizing safe and productive behaviors, top earners and so forth is a clear benefit for both the company and its equipment operators.

To bridge the gap between apprehension and acceptance, fleet managers must educate operators about the tangible benefits of fleet technologies. Improved safety, optimized routes, streamlined communication and reduced paperwork are advantages that directly impact operators’ daily experiences. That being said, clear communication is vital, so by emphasizing these advantages, fleet managers can highlight the positive impact on operators’ work lives, ultimately promoting buy-in.

Empower Operators Through Educational Resources

Empowerment through education is a potent tool in overcoming negative perceptions. Organize training sessions that provide operators with a comprehensive understanding of the technology’s features, capabilities, benefits and ease of use. By showcasing the user-friendly nature of fleet management solutions, equipment operators can feel more confident in their ability to navigate the new technology.

Additionally, real-world success stories can serve as powerful testimonials to dispel doubts. Highlight instances where the adoption of fleet technologies led to tangible improvements in operators’ experiences and operational efficiency.

When equipment operators witness how their colleagues have benefited from the technology, it can spark enthusiasm and willingness to embrace change. When looking for a new fleet solution, be sure to look at providers’ case studies in same or similar industries to get a feel for how their product can benefit your business.

Create a Collaborative Environment

Maintaining open lines of communication is hugely important to a mobile operation. If your landscaping crew can’t get to a customer, that’s lost revenue. When fleet managers regularly engage with operators and address any concerns or queries they may have, they demonstrate a commitment to operators’ well-being and can create a culture of mutual respect and understanding.

How does that help with technology adoption? Well, involving equipment operators in the decision-making process when selecting fleet technologies can greatly improve not only the chance of choosing the proper technology for your fleet, but also operator adoption. Acting on operator feedback demonstrates appreciation of their insights and conveys a sense of partnership and collaboration, fostering a more positive outlook on adopting new solutions.

The landscaping industry’s journey toward embracing fleet technologies is a collaborative endeavor that hinges on understanding, building trust and celebrating achievements. By addressing equipment operators’ concerns, fleet managers can successfully guide them towards adopting new solutions to elevate operations and improve their experiences.

Rachael Plant

Rachael Plant is a content marketing specialist for Fleetio, a fleet management software company that helps organizations track, analyze and improve their fleet operations.