Typically, GPS tracking technology is available as a plug-and-play or hardwired device. Plug-and-play devices, which attach to a wiring harness under the dashboard, are easy to self-install and can be moved between vehicles. The data they collect, however, may be limited. And, their lag time may take longer to show vehicle location, said Billy Blasingame, owner of Blasingame Pest Management. His company employs both hardwired and plug-in systems.

Plug-in GPS devices generally are more affordable, but they’re also easily disabled by drivers. “They’re always knocking them out,” says Patrick Wyman, Epcon Lane Pest Control, Akron, Ohio, who has seven service vehicles with plug-in GPS tracking devices. In his service vans, the devices plug in right between the driver’s legs so it’s easy for them to hit the units with their knees. To prevent this, Wyman is considering having GPS tracking hardwired into the vans.

To install hardwired GPS tracking systems, vehicles must be taken out of service. It is a more secure installation, but neither can it be switched easily between vehicles. Hardwired systems generally cost more but they also offer greater options for recording and monitoring vehicle data.

Some GPS tracking systems integrate with routing/mapping and work-order software and have smartphone apps, which let managers get alerts and access data while in the field. Rice eventually would like to upgrade to a system that links front and rear vehicle cameras with GPS tracking. “We’re dedicated to using the technology,” he says.

PMPs typically pay monthly or annually for GPS tracking service. Even with the economic uncertainty posed by COVID-19, Rice won’t cut this service to reduce expenses. “It’s too much of an investment in vehicles not to have some kind of a backup system in place to help you out.”