Satellites Unlimited

How Satellites Unlimited Became Thought Leaders for Technician Safety

Learn how the nation’s leading regional service provider for their partner satellite business uses Samsara to improve technician safety and uncover new ways to support the bottom line.

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Meet Satellites Unlimited

Building a cutting-edge safety program

Founded in 1994 and based in Birmingham, Alabama, Satellites Unlimited (SUI) is a regional service provider and retailer for a major national satellite company. Today, they are the nation’s leading regional service provider for their partner satellite business. When SUI’s Safety Manager Cortez Tolbert joined the company in 2017, much of their safety program relied on anecdotal evidence from technicians and managers that didn’t allow them to reliably identify the root cause of safety incidents. "When I first came to SUI, we were aware that there were issues with tailgating and distracted driving, but we weren't able to prove it," said Tolbert. Then, after SUI experienced two catastrophic vehicle incidents, resulting in multi-million dollar worker’s comp claims, they sought a solution that would provide an unbiased source of truth as to what was happening in the cab when technicians were out on the road.

Achieving buy-in through an ownership mentality

While they had previously used telematics, SUI was new to dash cams. Tolbert and SUI’s leadership team knew that buy-in from their technicians would be critical to their dash cam rollout, so they solicited technician feedback, addressed driver concerns and brought a high degree of transparency to the entire process.

“We made a point of focusing on the benefits of the dash cams with the drivers. We talked about how it was going to enhance their ability to arrive alive and support our safety goals. As a result, not one driver resigned due to the roll-out,” said Tolbert. The fact that SUI is an employee-owned company also played an important role in achieving technician buy-in. Once technicians understood the value Samsara could bring in protecting the company, the decision achieved broad support. “As an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), our employees are going to think like owners. They are owners of the organization, so they have a vested interest to protect the business,” said Tolbert.

In addition, SUI leveraged gamification using the Safety Leaderboard feature early on in their Samsara deployment, to encourage friendly competition. “We’re very competitive,” said Tolbert. “Every office wants to be on the top.” By providing incentives to the drivers at each office who ranked the highest on the Safety Leaderboard and maintained the best driving record, SUI was able to further increase the adoption and acceptance of the Samsara platform.

Leading with technician safety and uncovering new ways to support the bottom line

By introducing Samsara, SUI has become a national safety leader among the regional service providers that work with their partner satellite business. In fact, they now teach other regional service providers about their safety best practices. “We all have the same standards, but we’ve met and exceeded our satellite partner’s requirements for safety—we went above and beyond for our technicians,” said Tolbert. As a result, SUI has not had an at-fault catastrophic vehicle incident since implementing Samsara in 2019.

Another instance where Samsara has proved critical in helping protect the company is in the case of driver exoneration. Recently, SUI had an instance of a false claim from a pedestrian who alleged that one of their vans had struck her. SUI was able to get the dash cam video of the alleged incident to the driver within five minutes, who then provided it to the state trooper, proving that the driver was innocent. By having video evidence to exonerate both the driver and SUI, the company was able to avoid litigation and a costly settlement.

SUI has uncovered additional benefits beyond their initial safety project using Samsara’s Connected Operations Cloud. Because they are paid a base fuel reimbursement rate per job, SUI has leveraged the Trip History functionality within Samsara to prove that they were driving more miles than their satellite partners thought they were. This resulted in them being given an increased reimbursement rate. And because they get paid the same amount for each job, any efficiencies they are able to gain by using Samsara’s tools for reducing idling and improving fuel efficiency all mean more money going back to their bottom line. 

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