Construction Company Saves $200K by Tracking Workers, Automating Payroll

By Michael Barbella

Who: R&J Construction is a Danville, Calif.-based company that builds custom homes, additions and remodeled offices. The company's services include foundation construction, framing, plumbing, electrical work, low-voltage lighting control, painting, finish carpentry and the installation of sound systems. R&J's founders, Ron Longchamps and Jim Wood, each have about 30 years experience in the construction industry.

Challenge: For years, R&J Construction used a manual, paper-based system to record the number of hours employees worked, obtain updated job status information and track workers' vehicle mileage. Employees often filled out their weekly timesheets from memory and estimated mileage, leading to over-inflated payroll costs and the inaccurate billing of customers. In addition, R&J office staff spent three hours inputting the data from timesheets into the company's payroll system.

“There were guys who would leave early on a Friday and nobody would question it. And the following Monday, they would mark on their timesheets that they left on time,” says Paula Wiens, R&J Construction controller. “That wasn't real good for morale.”

To prevent workers from inflating their hours and to provide clients with faster and more detailed information about the location of its workers, R&J needed a solution that would automate the payroll system and track workers' whereabouts.

Solution: R&J turned to the ezLaborManager payroll solution from ADP to automate its timesheet system and a GPS TimeTrack mobile workforce management solution from Xora to track the whereabouts of its 49 workers. ADP's ezLaborManager software enables R&J employees to provide timesheet information by mobile phone, and allows managers to check the number of hours employees work to determine which, if any, may be approaching overtime.

Xora's GPS TimeTracking software runs on GPS-enabled Sprint Nextel phones that R&J workers use in the field. The timesheet information recorded on the Sprint i355s and i560s is automatically transmitted to the ezLaborManager system.

R&J managers now know how many hours workers are on the job, and which projects are being worked on. Employees choose a customer job number on their phone, then select from a drop-down menu the specific task they are about to perform, such as framing a wall, painting interior trim or wiring a basement. Workers also can type job details into the text field of the Xora application. Like ezLaborManager, the GPS TimeTrack solution can be accessed from any Internet-enabled computer.

“We don't go looking for something,” Wiens says. “But alerts pop up—if someone is exceeding the speed limit, an alert will pop up. Or if the phone does not move or there is not some other kind of activity for 15 minutes, it will send an alert and we can find out what is going on. We can also go in periodically throughout the day to track mileage.”

Results: Since implementing the GPS TimeTrack solution and ezLaborManager system in April, R&J Construction has reduced its vehicle mileage reimbursement costs by $6,000 a month. The company also estimates it will save about $200,000 this year from implementing both solutions.

“What used to be time-intensive and inexact processes—mobile worker management and payroll administration—are now significantly improved,” Wiens notes. “We now know where our workers are and what they are doing at all times, enabling us to pay and invoice more accurately, route and dispatch more efficiently, and to more successfully control costs.”

The ezLaborManager and GPS TimeTracker solutions also has enabled R&J to prevent workers from overstating the hours they work. And that had led to better morale among field workers.

“Our guys are a tough sell. Since I've been on board, they've gone through some pretty major changes and this was the last [change] we put on them,” Wiens says. “But they have seen that it's benefited them. Especially the guys that bust their butts out there. In the office, we can't see the guys that don't pull their weight. Before, the guys that really worked hard could only gripe amongst themselves. But now we deal with it.”

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