As technology progresses and makes its way further and further into our daily lives, advancements that at one time might have been considered a “nice-to-have” business advantage have now become a “must-have” to remain efficient and competitive.
For many companies, fleet tracking software has crossed that threshold. In order to stay competitive with other contenders in their field, or to simply protect themselves from a legal perspective, many firms have realized that by allocating a certain percentage of their budget to fleet tracking they find the service pays for itself – sometimes within a matter of months.
But is fleet tracking right for your company? Before you decide, here are five things you might want to consider. While this isn’t a complete list of considerations (what list ever is?), it should give you a better idea of whether fleet tracking for your company is more of a nice-to-have bonus or a day-to-day necessity.
#1 If you suspect you need tracking software, you probably do.
Every fleet manager has a pretty good idea as to whether his or her drivers are operating their vehicles in a manner that reflects positively on the company. So if you’re wondering whether your drivers might require greater supervision when it comes to their job, then you’ve probably already answered that question.
That said, with fleet tracking software managers can now know for sure, and adjust accordingly. If drivers are driving too fast through neighborhoods, part of the problem may be that the company isn’t giving them enough time to get the job done safely and correctly. It’s not always the drivers who need re-education.
#2 Does your industry deal with regulatory compliance?
For example, in the construction industry there are numerous rules about how many hours a worker can be on site, as well as when working hours need to come to an end (so as to not bother residents when they’re home from work, or getting ready for bed).
The transportation industry is finding itself with newfound regulation with the electronic logging device (ELD) rule that will come into effect in December of 2017, requiring companies currently using paper log books for maintaining hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.
So if your industry is one where compliance hangs heavy on your fleet of vehicles, fleet management software is an easy fix to know just which of your drivers are where, and when; as well a valuable tool for maintaining a history of their driving behavior – and managing it.
#3 “What’s it going to cost?”
Of course, this is probably the first thing most managers are going to want to know. It’s only natural. Like all companies, you’ve got a budget that only allows for so much. But have you ever considered turning the question upon yourself and asked how much it’s going to cost you to NOT have a tracking system?
On two different occasions a school system in Florida petitioned their board to pay for a tracking system for their school buses. Both times the petition was denied, and then one day that school system had three different buses collide with each other while out on the road. While thankfully no children were seriously injured, later on it was determined that speeding was a significant factor in the cause of the crash. The crash could have been avoided all together if the school system had simply been tracking their drivers’ behavior a little more closely. The liability alone of what could have happened if just one of those students was seriously injured is scary, not to mention the real toll of such an incident to parents and students. Fleet tracking software can actually let you know in real time (as it’s happening) if your drivers are exceeding the set speed limit, and by how much, to help prevent things like this from happening.
In addition, you might want to ask yourself how much it is costing you in fuel to not have a tracking system in place. There have been reports of larger trucking companies saving upwards of $500,000 a year on fuel by simply being able to keep better track of truck idling and speeding on the road.
In the end it’s a decision that the company will have to make, but before the answer is no, you might want to ask a potential supplier if they offer a free demonstration. If they do you’ll be able to see for yourself, for free, if there’s money to be saved that you never even knew about. Most tracking plans actually end up paying for themselves.
#4 How much does your company depend on its vehicles for profit and customer satisfaction?
Does your business model require a lot of repeat customers? If so, you should ask yourself just what would happen if any of your vehicles were stolen or out-of-service thanks to maintenance issues. National Insurance Crime Bureau figures show that 77% of equipment stolen never gets recovered.
Sure you’ve probably got insurance to cover the loss, but there’s the deductible as well as the downtime to consider when factoring any lost revenue. Would all of your customers understand, or would any of them be forced to look into working with your competition?
Also, with fleet tracking software you can keep a close eye on the health of your vehicles and with routine maintenance avoid costly repairs and extended downtime. Should the vehicle throw any fault codes you can be instantly notified, and the number of hours or miles in between routine oil changes can also be closely kept in check.
#5 What kind of timecard or payroll system do you have?
Enough about tracking vehicles. Let’s talk about tracking hours. Does the day begin for your drivers the minute they get to work and clock in? Or does the day begin the minute they get in their vehicles and actually start to do work for you? With the ability to have drivers check in when they enter their vehicles you could be saving up to 15 minutes per day per driver. That may not sound like much, until you figure five drivers per day working five days per week, at 50 weeks a year (we’ll be nice and give two weeks off for vacation) and you’re talking over 310 hours in saved time. If you pay $35 per hour that’s almost $11,000. Per year.
Must-Have or Nice-to-Have?
In the end it will finally come down to whether you really do consider fleet tracking to be a must-have or a nice-to-have business capability. Some businesses do just fine with their current fleet management. It’s only when they progress beyond the “mom and pop” stage that they really need to take a serious look at their fleet tracking system.
But even businesses like those may one day discover that as the options out there for fleet management increase, even they might benefit from some kind of basic fleet management package – if only for peace of mind, or to get a break on their insurance rates.