Cell Phones — Provide or Pay?

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October 25, 2021

With many GPS systems available on smart devices vs. requiring hard-wired equipment in vehicles, do you give technicians company cell phones or pay them an allowance so they can defray the cost of using their own? There are benefits to both arrangements.

Give Them an Allowance

Cowley’s Pest Services in Farmingdale, N.J., used to purchase cell phones for technicians and foot the tab. “We don’t do that anymore,” says co-owner Bill Cowley. “Nowadays, everyone who comes to work here already has a phone. So, we tell them, keep your cell phone and we’ll give you $50 per month toward the bill.”

Each technician’s paycheck includes this $50 allowance toward their personal cell phone bill. “Now, when their cell phone breaks, rather than us dealing with it — which was a nightmare for our managers — it’s their phone and they are motivated to get it fixed. They do it on their own time and expense.”

When the company provided phones, managers were spending too much time overseeing them. “It was always, ‘I dropped my phone, my screen broke,’ and our people didn’t like having two phones on them all the time,” Cowley says. “It’s enough to keep one working properly.”

The $50 cell phone allowance works for everyone. “Our managers are not burdened and our people get money for the usage, so it’s a win-win,” he says.

Provide Company Devices

Truly Nolen gives all of its partners in the field cell phones that the company pays for. Trust is a big factor in using the phones — they’re for company business. But the main emphasis is on safe usage, says George Lawlor, director of IT. “Anything that is distracting in the vehicle is not allowed,” he says. “It’s hands-free only.”

Partners are expected to use the company cell phones — which are equipped with routing and business software — to document service and produce reports that are emailed directly to customers. They can also provide customers with text alerts to let them know they’re on the way to perform the service.

Because of the software and the fact that phones are used like any other tool on the truck, Truly Nolen does not ask partners to use their own smart phones.