Fleet management technology isn’t just for checking where your trucks are. Here are six things you didn’t know a fleet management tool could do for your business.
By James McDonald, Fleetmatics Group PLC
After 15 years in the fleet management business, I’ve seen the technology grow from simply monitoring locations on a map to become a robust system that will even tell you when drivers are braking too hard.
But as I navigate the pest control industry and talk with executives, it’s clear that many people still don’t know what fleet management software is really capable of, and how it can quickly translate to money in the bank.
From easy installations to helping users avoid legal trouble with Route Replay, here are six things you may not know fleet management software can do for your business.
1. It’s Not Only for Your Trucks
Sure, fleet management tools are a fantastic way of tracking vehicles on the road, but what about field equipment potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? The same hardware can attach to a multitude of heavy equipment like generators, backhoes or even trailers.
As long as you can connect the equipment to an engine or some sort of 12-volt power source, tracking and monitoring your expensive equipment is just as easy as tracking your fleet. Reports can then show when it was last used, where it is, the hours of operation and whether it needs maintenance. Imagine, for example, your team drops off a trailer onsite in the middle of nowhere. By tying the management hardware into the brake lights, business owners can see exactly where the trailer is, and if it’s suddenly 20 miles off site, whether it’s been moved or stolen.
2. Quick, Easy and Unobtrusive Installation
There’s no need to take a vehicle out of service to install fleet tracking software. The actual hardware is only as large as a deck of cards, and there are no wires or antennas, so it is relatively unobtrusive. Install teams can easily install a fleet monitor on the go, even at a highway rest stop.
3. Monitoring Fuel Expenses
Fleet management tools are a fantastic way of monitoring and strategically cutting down on fuel spend, specifically regarding driving styles and idling times. Consider this: A semi-truck will consume around one gallon of diesel fuel per hour. If vehicles idle for one hour per day with diesel fuel costing $3.92 a gallon, the expense can really add up.
One manager from a national pest control company saw $1,000 in savings across 10 vehicles in just the first month after she installed fleet management software—a 20 percent decrease in typical fuel costs. She realized this savings by setting up email alerts that let her know every time a driver idled for more than five minutes. When she got an alert, she called the driver to see what was going on. Before long, the team was trained to limit idling times and avoid getting the manager’s call.
No. of Vehicles Daily Idling Cost Monthly Idling Cost Yearly Idling Cost
5 $19.60 $450.80 $5,409.60
15 $58.80 $1,352.40 $16,228.80
25 $98.00 $2,254.00 $27,048.00
And that’s not taking into consideration the amount of fuel each vehicle might save if you monitor driving habits. Looking at which drivers are speeding, braking too hard or driving erratically will also contribute to savings on the fuel front.
To make drivers aware of the benefits of fleet tracking software, and to educate them on better driving habits, some firms have implemented educational programs alongside the installations. And, some have taken the installation a step further by offering drivers a 50/50 split of the cost savings associated with better driving habits over the first three months. For example, if a driver saves $225 in gas costs by reducing speeding and idling time in the first three months, he will be rewarded with a $122.50 check. It’s a smart way to engage drivers to embrace the system.
4. Route Replay
Not only can fleet management software pre-plan which routes will be most efficient for drivers, increasing deliveries and productivity, but it can also provide a detailed report of where drivers were at any given time. A customer in Phoenix, Ariz., for example, refused to pay her bill, claiming that a pest control worker failed to show up for her appointment.
The employee’s manager looked at the route replay records, which showed that he was at the woman’s home for 15 minutes with the truck turned off. There’s no way he would have sat in a truck for 15 minutes in sizzling Phoenix without the air conditioning on, proving that he must have gotten out of the truck at the woman’s home. The software was even integrated with Google maps, so it not only showed the address where he stopped, but it also showed a picture of the home.
5. Fleet Maintenance Tracking
It’s one thing to track your fleet, but quite another to also monitor which vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment need maintenance and when. Planning ahead to leave a vehicle out of commission for maintenance is far more efficient than having it break down on site due to lack of service. Monitor which vehicles need maintenance in real time so your organization and fleet can function at peak performance.
6. Call Ahead Delivery Notice
Happy customers are the foundation of any business, and with fleet management software, pleasing the customer is an easy task. Dispatchers can know exactly where their vehicles are, what the traffic conditions are like and the speed the vehicle is traveling. This allows the dispatcher to call ahead and alert customers exactly when a technician is expected to arrive for his appointment, ensuring the customer is ready to show him the pest problem in her home.
In addition, if the dispatcher calls and the customer isn’t ready for the appointment, the driver can make another stop beforehand rather than waiting at the scene.
So, from happy customers to happy drivers, installing a fleet management system is much more than simply looking at dots on a map. Between the unobtrusive installations, the clear reduction in fuel spending, the usefulness of route replay, and more, fleet tracking technology has come a long way.