Do I need a fleet tracking system if there are less than five vehicles in my fleet?
Fleets of all sizes stand to save money through smart adoption of fleet telematics technologies. Even small fleets can use these technologies to make better business decisions.
A Typical Fleet Management System Use Case
Todd operates a fleet of five private cabs in Manhattan, New York. His drivers know the streets better than anyone, and his customers are happy with the service. Still, idling in heavy traffic wastes fuel, staff time and money that he’d love to be able to spend on growing his business.
After fitting his cars with GPS trackers, Todd gains a bird’s eye view of how his best drivers perform on valuable rush hour shifts. Studying their digital trip history logs and heat maps, he creates a strategy to help his drivers avoid jams and find the most lucrative spots in the city.
Two weeks later, Todd’s data-driven approach is paying off. His drivers are averaging an extra 7.5 rush hour trips per car, per week. The bottom line? Drivers are collecting an extra $640 in fares and tips each month. Within less than two months, his fleet management system will have more than paid for itself.
Can I really afford this investment on top of my normal operating expenses?
It’s less costly than you think to get started with fleet tracking. Hardware and software costs aren’t what they were five years ago, and many of today’s entry level solutions boast impressive feature sets.
Leasing is by far the most popular, inexpensive and risk-free option for fleet management. For as little as $20-$100 a month, you can get GPS trackers with starts and stops, fuel and idle reporting software for all your vehicles. If you don’t need all of the advertised features, tiered pricing plans let you pay only for what you do need.
If you’re still hesitant, it’s worth knowing you don’t need to worry about hardware depreciation when leasing. You see, you don’t actually own the hardware - your supplier does, which means they bear responsibility for upkeep and repair. Think of it as insurance against obsolescence. Leasing also gives you the flexibility to upgrade your monthly plan to keep pace with your business’s growth.
Installation costs are the biggest unavoidable upfront expense. But it’s possible to find good deals for this, or even to do it yourself.
How do I choose the right solution for my enterprise?
A great way to begin your research is by conducting a SWOT analysis of your fleet.
Once complete, you’ll have both a better sense of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and a clearer idea of how telematics can be of greatest use to you.
Step 1: Strengths
Where does your fleet excel? Think of all the things your fleet does well, and note them down in bullet point form, considering:
- Who your best drivers are, and what they do well
- What operational inefficiencies (vehicle downtime, idling, etc) your fleet successfully minimises
- The areas where you surpass competitors
Step 2: Weaknesses
You’ll have found, from analysing your business’s strengths, that it performs consistently well in some areas, with room for improvement in others. Turn your attention now to these aspects of your fleet. When you’re identifying these operational weaknesses, it can be helpful to invert the questions you asked yourself in Step 1:
- Where could your drivers benefit from extra support?
- What operational inefficiencies does your fleet struggle to reduce?
- Where do your competitors have an advantage over you?
Don’t worry if you’re not able to answer some of these questions. It may be because you lack the technology for gathering detailed enough insights about your fleet. This is itself a valuable insight, and we’ll look at opportunities for getting better information about your fleet in Step 3.
Step 3: Opportunities
With your fleet’s strengths and weaknesses in mind, next ask yourself how using telematics could enhance your business. You’ll want to acquaint yourself with common features of different fleet management systems in order to do this.
Keep your business’s goals in mind as you assess where different technologies can be of greatest use to you:
- Would real-time updates and analytics help you to reduce vehicle downtime and idling
- Could you use geofencing to assign different drivers to different patrols, thereby improving service coverage
- Would mobile alerts for unauthorised engine starts prevent thefts and give you greater peace of mind?
Step 4: Threats
Finally, it’s time to address any external risks that could jeopardize your fleet’s performance in the future. Questions to consider include:
- What barriers does your fleet face?
- What are the strengths of your biggest competitors?
- What are current economic conditions like?
- What are industry forecasts like?
With your SWOT analysis complete, you can begin to whittle your options down. Once you’ve compiled a shortlist of suppliers, it takes less than a minute to source quotes using Expert Market’s comparison tool.
Do I really need the add-ons (additional hardware installations, asset management software, trailer tracking, etc)?
It really depends on your fleet’s role within your business. For example, if you handle equipment deliveries on behalf of high-value clients, bespoke tracking software for those assets could be a sensible investment. If your long-haul truckers traverse icy roads, a robust tire management system would be essential.
And, while you’ll ideally find a single supplier who can service these needs and more, that won’t always be possible. Some suppliers will offer everything you need as standard, but certain features like Drivecam’s video events recorder, or Workwave’s real-time traffic profiles, are more niche.
In that case, look out for suppliers like Garmin who offer excellent party partnerships and integrations with third party software. However complex your fleet’s needs, you can find right solution by researching your options.
Do I really need to research before I choose a provider?
In short, yes. With the right research, a fleet management solution is a long-term investment that can deliver immediate benefits. It has the potential to massively reduce operational costs and make your business more efficient.