The best things in life are free. The best things in business — the ones that are most effective and the ones that save the most money often come with a price tag.
If you’re trying to keep your fleet’s operating budget to a minimum, is a cheap GPS solution the best way to do that? Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Cheap GPS Solutions
It’s relatively simple finding an inexpensive, or even free, GPS system or application to handle certain aspects of fleet management, whether you’re concerned with tracking, compliance, fuel management, or any number of other common fleet issues.
Many vendors sell bespoke hardware alongside their own applications, and several other solutions are entirely application-based, requiring nothing more than an iOS or Android device.
Here’s why going cheap isn’t the bargain it seems at first glance: GPS isn’t just about a receiver. You’ll want different functions depending on the size and use of your fleet, as well as the business case you’ve determined for using GPS in the first place.
Think about some of the more common functions your drivers and your fleet manager may find useful:
- Hours of Service
- Electronic Logging Device
- Event Recorder
- Inspection Reports
- IFTA Compliance
- Fuel Cards and Fuel Management
- Expense Management
- Driver Safety
- Vehicle and Asset Recovery
- Service Management and CRM
- Back Office Reports
It’s easy to find low-cost or free hardware and software to address each of these issues but you may well find yourself trying to find individual solutions to each individual issue.
Now, think about what that looks like in practice: you could find that each driver has half a dozen (or more) applications on their phone, some of which may age out over time, and few of which are capable of talking to each other, much less “communicating” with your back office.
Drawbacks of Cheap GPS Solutions
For many fleets, the inability to integrate different applications would be a deal-breaker on its own. For others — especially those in oil and gas, mining, utilities, and other specialized applications — finding a fleet management SaaS that’s both free and tailor-made for one’s specific industry is nigh impossible.
The picture becomes all the more complex if you want to understand or modify fleet behavior. Remember, your record keeping would still be mostly manual. So would the time to collate and interpret what each driver’s data points are telling you. The cost savings at one end of the process could be costing you more at the other end in time and payroll.
Worst of all, after all that, you may not even be saving money; after all, these services may be less expensive on their own, but taken together, the cost can rapidly add up to more than that of a dedicated fleet management application.
Better GPS Alternatives
If an a la carte approach is impractical, where does that leave your business? It helps to evaluate your options. For some fleets, a solution that can handle hours of service, fuel reporting, and inspection reports is help enough, and it’s easy to find something that delivers these essentials.
Fleets using fuel cards can also save on their GPS needs by bundling fleet management services with their fuel cards.
Those in need of a full solution to monitor everything from driver behavior, to geofencing, to maintenance schedules will also be able to find a full-service option to manage their fleet.
Given that many fleet management vendors offer a free trial period, it’s worth trying a vendor or two to see the kinds of savings — in fuel, operating expenses, maintenance, and time — that can be leveraged from a more sophisticated application.
There are many companies serving Canada, each with their own strengths. Among your top options are:
- Bell Canada
- Titan GPS
- North Star Fleet
- PinPoint GPS
…and dozens of others. A simple query using the form at the top of this page will get you started on finding the right GPS solution for your business.
It’s worth remembering that something becomes a cliche because it contains a kernel of truth and when it comes to GPS solutions, you really do get what you pay for.
Free and low-cost GPS hardware and SaaS may work well for an individual driver, but even those can seem more like half-measures than true solutions.
If your business operates a fleet — and wants to run that fleet in a manner that’s more efficient and cost-effective — it’s worth paying a bit of extra money up front to save money, time, and further complications later.