The development of fleet tracking software has been a real boon for the fleet tracking industry. Now, instead of driver logs or guesswork, fleet managers can know for sure just where each and every one of their drivers are. They can look at actual facts and figures and adjust their fleets accordingly. They can also better manage driver behavior, watch fuel costs, and gain a better understanding of financials.
Fleet tracking software has grown to be so popular within the industry that numerous software solutions are now available, and more seem to be popping up every day. Any fleet manager considering purchasing a software solution will want to do his or her homework before settling on one.
That’s why we’ve prepared this checklist to keep in mind as you research potential fleet tracking offerings.
#1 Size vs Platform
Just because a supplier is the biggest doesn’t mean they’re the best. This holds true in more categories than just fleet tracking. Think about it. Did they get to be the biggest by developing a strong base of happy customers year after year? A big company could be more interested in size and growth than they are in the happiness of individual customers. On the flip side, a small outfit with no history to speak of could also be just as uncertain a choice. It’s important to find not just a software platform that meets your needs but a company you’re comfortable with as well.
#2 Do they have a good safety history?
One of the major benefits fleet tracking can provide is improved safety – for the general public as well as your drivers and vehicles. So ask yourself, who uses the platforms you’re considering? The scrutiny that goes into a school system purchasing its fleet management platform is probably a lot higher than the scrutiny a local landscaping company uses when choosing theirs. What about public entities, especially public safety clients? Do any of them use the platforms you’re considering? If so, they likely researched and reviewed the vendors and contracts with fine-tooth comb, choosing the most reputable company to do business with.
#3 How easy is their software to use?
Every software system is different. If the design and framework weren’t researched and tested thoroughly before being introduced to the market, if the user interface is not user-friendly, or if the company doesn’t invest in improving their technology, you might not want to do business with them.
Is the provider willing to let you try before you buy? If so, then they’ve probably had quite a bit of positive feedback about how easy-to-use and robust their system is, and that’s why they’re more than happy to show you how their platform performs before you make any kind of commitment. A free demo is important because some companies hope that by charging you for their demo you’ll feel pressured into going with them, as you’ve already cut them a check. If a company is eager to provide a free demo, that’s a good thing.
#4 What’s the cost?
Of course price will always be a concern. You probably have a set budget and you probably had to fight hard to get it. As with anything in life, the phrase “you get what you pay for” tends to be true. The cheapest systems may be the most difficult to learn or work with, and customer service may be lacking. Remember, for example, that if an expensive piece of equipment goes missing you want as much help as possible getting it back.
Some platforms will allow you to work with a more stripped down version of their software at first. This way you can get comfortable with the software before you decide to commit to a more expensive and robust version of their platform. A good provider will be willing to work with you to get you the most bang for your buck.
#5 Develop a list of what you need.
As we just mentioned, some systems are more robust than others. They may have bells and whistles that could benefit a very large company with hundreds of vehicles to monitor, but you may not need something like that. On the flip side, the more robust the system the more likely it will pay for itself in a shorter time span. The better platform providers will not try to force their customers into a one-size-fits-all option, but can offer their services on an a la carte basis. Develop a list of must-haves and would-like-to-haves before you go looking, and don’t settle for a platform that doesn’t meet your needs.
#6 What kind of insurance do they offer?
The better the system (and the company), the more likely they are to be comfortable with offering you some kind of guarantee for their product. Do they offer hardware warrantees? Are they willing to reimburse you for downtime? Are you given spare hardware up front, so if there’s any kind of failure you can replace a malfunctioning unit right away? The better the guarantee, the more likely you'll be happy with their services.
#7 Look for flexibility in pricing.
No two companies are the same, and the same should be true for fleet tracking software contracts. Some companies prefer to pre-pay for their services up front, while others like to spread things out over a month-to-month, quarterly, or yearly basis. Government entities have their own organizational red tape they need to deal with and more leeway is probably necessary for them when it comes to obtaining funding. So try to find a provider who can work with what works best for you.
Also, because the fleet tracking industry is relatively new and software improvements tend to be numerous and frequent, you should not have to pay for technology upgrades during the term of your contract. All upgrades and updates should be included in your negotiated price.
In the End, Do Your Homework
Like with any important purchase, rushing in without fully exploring all the options is an unwise decision. Look around. Talk to people you trust. Ask for references and case studies. Finding the right provider is key to not only landing on a product that you’re happy with, but one that can provide you with the insights you’re looking for. After all, if you buy a product you never end up using because it’s either too complicated or too poorly designed, then you really would be better off having never bought the product in the first place. Sadly, you’d be missing out on the many advantages fleet tracking software can provide.