Prevent Attachers from Becoming Bootleggers
Bootleg attachers are not born—they are made. While the occasional attaching company may be maliciously stealing space on your utility poles, the majority have likely fallen into unauthorized behavior through a variety of situations, from unanswered permit to attach requests, to lack of information about the pole owner. The potential consequence of low fines (or no fines at all), if found out, do not always deter those attaching with illegal intention. When you understand the motives—and how a lack of process on the pole owner's part can make unauthorized attaching easier for those inclined to do it—the next question is, what can you do about it?
You have two courses of action: make it easy and make it hard.
Make it easy to do the right thing.
Bootleggers often attach unlawfully, on their timetable, because that route may be easier and less time-consuming than waiting for a permit to attach to be issued. This is an especially attractive route if the pole owner is mired in backlogged requests and the attacher finds they will be waiting indefinitely for a green light.
How do you make it easy? Effective asset data management process on the owners' side. This includes clearing of backlogs combined with proactive processes to keep new build-up from occuring allowing requests to move through the system smoothly and resulting in an environment that is favorable to both the attacher and owner. A well-organized system goes a long way to enticing attachers to do things the right way. The philosophy: make it easy, seamless, even a joy to be able to attach in a timely manner, and they will do it your way. Think of this as the "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar" route.
Make it hard not to follow process.
Another reason attachers go bootleg is because the fines issued if they are found out are often less than the cost to attach the right way. If begging for forgiveness costs less than asking for permission, what choice do you think a busy attacher ready to expand market share is going to make?
How do you make it hard? Good infrastructure asset management begins with considering all the angles. What is motivating these unauthorized attachers? In this case, financial gain and competitive advantage. With low fines and the potential they may never be found out and have to pay rent—much less back-rent on the utility pole—not asking permission can actually be a monetary win-win and a good risk. Not a good scenario. The onus is on pole owners to reconsider contracts, implement fines when appropriate and go after back rent if possible. The gist here: make it an unpleasant process if it is done incorrectly, and hit attachers in the wallet in a way they are sure to feel if they decide to go around the rules.
So, what way will you and your attachers have it? Will it be easy to attach timely and hard to attach unauthorized or vice versa? Get busy putting the processes in place to help keep the unauthorized off your utility poles.