December 5, 2022

Small Business Advice

GPS in Business

Jerry Osteryoung | 8/20/2007

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

If you have been reading my column for a while, you know that I am a technology junkie. If it is new, I want it (iPhone here I come). Additionally, I have had a Global Positioning System (GPS) in my car now for about five years. We call the system Mrs. G. I never have to ask for directions, use a map or take my eyes off the road, all of which makes my wife very happy. Mrs. G talks to me in a very neat British accent giving clear and precise instructions. Even if I screw up and miss a turn, she will say, “recalculating,” and gives me new directions to get me where I need to go.

GPS is just darn effective technology. My current model shows me the weather as well as current traffic conditions (not in Tallahassee) and diverts me around traffic congestion. It also tells me what time I can expect to arrive at my destination. I am still not sure how it makes these computations, but it is very accurate. I have gone from Ponte Vedra in Jacksonville to Tallahassee and have arrived within one minute of when Mrs. G said I would. In addition, I just recently saw advertised that you can attach a GPS system to your hunting dogs so that you always know where they are.

Why am I rambling on about GPS? I think every business should consider putting one of these systems in their vehicles. Sears has put GPS devices in each of its 11,000 plus service vehicles to give drivers detailed, step-by-step instructions to a customer’s location.

Just consider the possible savings. As well as preventing the drivers from getting lost, GPS devices direct drivers using the shortest route. As a result, it has been estimated that the typical savings in gas alone is about ½ a gallon a week.

For similar reasons, all of your managers need a GPS device, especially if they are traveling in a strange city. Recently I was in San Francisco, which has so many one-way streets. I brought my GPS with me in my suitcase, and I was able to navigate the city with ease.

For those who are concerned with the cost of the equipment, GPS systems are becoming more and more affordable. You can now buy a GPS device for less than $200. In light of the falling price of GPS equipment and the potential savings, you just can no longer afford not to put a GPS into each of your vehicles.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University. He is also the Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at FSU and Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship. He can be reached by e-mail at jostery@comcast.net or by phone at 850-644-3372.

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