When you’re buying a car, it’s a given that the headline figure splashed on the windshield tells just part of the picture when it comes to cost. Service agreements, finance packages, lease deals and insurance quotes are just some of the factors you will consider to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.
Similarly, with lone worker protection, the top line quote can often hide a multitude of other costs and fees that need to be factored in to ensure your lone workers are getting the best protection at the best value.
Here’s a few areas of costs to consider when looking to implement an effective lone worker protection system in your business:
Your largest outlay will undoubtedly be the devices themselves.
Depending on the requirements of your business and your lone working staff, you can expect to pay out anything from £100-£1,000 per device. A lightweight and discreet SOS Fob may be the best option for a lone working sales rep, whilst a builder on a loud and busy site surrounded by heavy equipment will require a more robust device with specialist features, for example.
Of course, the choices don’t just end there. Are you going to pay for your devices outright or lease them over a set period of time?
Some companies may offer monthly lease deals that seem great on paper, but in fact will see you forking out far more in the long run. Long-term leases may be the best option for your business to spread out the cost, especially if you’ve got a larger workforce to protect - but be cautious of the small print. As the technology for lone working devices is constantly evolving, many need to be regularly updated or renewed - Is your provider going to do this for free, or add on a charge every time an update is required?
CONNECTING YOUR DEVICES:
Regardless of which device/s you decide to go for, you will need a SIM card to enable them access to a network.
For some businesses - especially those who have chosen to install the Smartphone App on existing mobiles - the cheapest option is to purchase their own SIM cards. However, it is worth considering the cost implications from data charges if you do choose to go with this option.
Additionally, there’s the safety aspect to consider. Whilst a SIM card to a single network - most commonly used for personal Smartphone use - will keep the monthly costs down, this could cause problems if your lone workers are travelling for work and move into an area without signal coverage on that particular network.
A single-network SIM is absolutely fine if your workers are office-based and have adequate network coverage on site, but for those whose jobs require work in various locations, it is worth spending more for a world SIM or multi-network EU roaming SIM with two-way radio system, which will ensure they can raise the alarm - and get help - wherever they are.
Whilst the ‘buy your own’ SIM option will often be the cheapest up front, this can be a false economy when your lone worker protection provider can deliver the whole service - and ensure it works to its maximum potential.
Another potential cost implication at the connection stage is the setting up of a ‘mini network’ for the devices to use. Some providers will install a number of beacons around your work site to ensure maximum coverage. This is great in places with weak or no signal - but if you’ve already got decent coverage, is this an expense that can be spared? Don’t feel railroaded into installing unnecessary infrastructure to run your system when other lone worker solutions that can better suit your business are available.
Different lone worker providers have different ways of implementing their systems.
Some will charge a lower fixed rate for the monthly license, but then add charges to connect each individual lone worker to the network. Others may charge slightly more per month for the license, but throw in each new connection to the network going forward for free as part of your contract. Make sure you choose the option that’s best for your business and workforce.
ONGOING COSTS AND SUPPORT:
Choosing and connecting your devices is just the start of the process.
Your new devices have been delivered, your workers are all connected on the network. But what now?
For any lone worker protection system to be effective, it’s vital that all of your workers and managers know how to use it. Flashy devices are pretty useless on their own if your staff don’t even know how they work, or why they’ve been introduced.
You need to know exactly how much support your lone worker protection provider is going to give.
Will they be providing any training at all for your staff on introduction? Is this a one-off session, or will they be hosting further training when features are updated? Is it free? Can you call at any time for advice and support, or will charges start being introduced if you’ve reached a certain number of enquiries?
If you’ve agreed for initial training to take place, you then need to consider the costs involved with training going forward. How will you approach training for new starters, for example? You may decide to designate an internal ‘trainer’, or instead pay for an external company to host sessions that ensure your staff are always up-to-date with the system, and that they are all comfortable using it.
Then there’s Telecomms and Fair Usage charges to consider. Just as you would check how many free calls you can make and texts you can send when you set up a new mobile phone contract, make sure you’re aware if there’s any potential hidden costs in your lone worker protection agreement. Some providers may put a limit on the number of times alarms can be escalated before charges are made, for example.
Similarly with repairs/maintenance/service charges. Are your devices under warranty for a certain amount of time? Will your provider update your system for free when technology develops? Do you have to pay more per month for ongoing maintenance of the system?
It’s always best to be sure of exactly what service you’re getting before signing, and then being hit with an unwelcome bill if you wrongly thought it all came as part of the package.
LICENSING AND MONITORING
You will have to pay a monthly license fee for your lone worker protection, whichever provider you choose. However, this fee - and what you get for your money - varies depending on which supplier you choose.
Some will throw in the full service - including unlimited access to a 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), for example - for a flat rate per month. Some, however, will charge additionally for services such as this. In some cases, providers may also charge extra for the use of certain device features, such as the timer function or ‘Man Down’ feature that detects when a worker has a fallen. Always check what services are included within your license fee - and don’t just assume that because your chosen devices have certain functions, that they all come for free.
THE COST OF PICKING THE WRONG PARTNER:
The actual cost of introducing a lone worker protection system is generally minimal, and unlikely to break the bank. The real costs come when the system you have chosen is not effective for your business or your workforce in the long run.
That’s why choosing the perfect provider as your partner is key.
Whilst selecting the right devices for your workers is of course important, there is little that is unique between the devices available from one provider to the next. It is the quality of the operating system, and of the support your provider gives you, that is going to make all of the difference to the effectiveness of your system, and the ultimate safety of your workers.
What is the point in saving £1 a month at implementation stage if your manager is having to waste 30 hours of work time to access a complicated system that doesn’t work for your business?
What price will you be paying for a provider who has failed to deliver timely and effective advice and support when you’ve asked for assistance?
Investing slightly more in a system that has been tailored to the demands of the business, and to providing the features you require in a format that is easy to understand and use - as well as a provider who will be with you every step of the way - is one that is definitely worth making.