How GPS Tracking Can Improve Your Fleet and Your Bottom-Line – Tips and Tricks

So, you’ve either already invested in a GPS tracking and fleet management system for your fleet, or are in serious consideration of doing so. Great! When properly and effectively utilized to your advantage, technology can be the friend that helps your business move into the next phase of success and profitability. However, in the case […]

So, you’ve either already invested in a GPS tracking and fleet management system for your fleet, or are in serious consideration of doing so. Great! When properly and effectively utilized to your advantage, technology can be the friend that helps your business move into the next phase of success and profitability. However, in the case of a GPS fleet vehicle tracking system, “properly” is the absolute key to achieving maximum results. Let’s take a look at how to successfully integrate your new investment into your current business model and practices.

When I say implementation, what I’m really referring to is how to efficiently integrate your new GPS fleet tracking investment into each department within your business. What I mean to say is, if the benefits of investing in a GPS tracking system are to be fully realized, then it should touch each and every area within your organization that it possibly can. Let me give you some examples…

Most GPS tracking systems offer an engine hour or activity report….or sometimes engine on/off. This can tell a fleet manager EXACTLY when a driver started working, took their lunch break, and EXACTLY when they arrived back at the terminal and finished for the day. So, now the fleet manager has that information at their disposal but, do you know who else has access to that information as well??….your HR department. Now you’ve taken an engine hours report and translated it as a Virtual Time Clock….accurate DOWN TO THE SECOND. Payroll should reap significant rewards from this and your bottom-line profits should benefit proportionately.

Let’s take a look at a “geo-fence alert” or “zone alert”. If you’re not familiar with what a geo-fence is, it is essentially a virtual boundary that can be created within a given GPS tracking system. When a chosen vehicle penetrates this geo-fence, either coming or going, pre-selected individuals get notified by text message and/or email that this particular event has occurred. Most fleet operators use a geofence as an “in-house” tool to benefit dispatch, in notifying them that a vehicle has arrived at or departed a given location. However, let’s say you operate a relocation or moving company. You can design geo-fences to not only send notifications to your dispatcher or fleet manager, but your customers as well. What you would do is set a geo-fence up with a radius of, say, 50 miles from the destination….and once your vehicle penetrated that 50 mile marker, your customer could receive an instantaneous text message and email saying, “John Doe Moving Company is only about an hour or so away. Please make sure someone is at your new home to greet them. Thank You!” As of right now, that customer would have to call into your business to inquire as to the location of their moving truck….which would, in turn, require your operator to transfer the call to dispatch, who would then have to reference the tracking system to give the customer that information. This is especially effective in delivery fleets as well….specifically hotshot and expedited delivery when customers have paid a premium for services and are more demanding. Now, by maximizing the effect of your geo-fencing, you’ve greatly improved and automated an important aspect of your customer service. We’ve already enhanced both your human resources AND your customer service. Now your customer service department has received a face lift, and your customers are impressed by the efficiency of your operation. Get ready for some referrals and increased bottom-line profits from the influx of new business.

Now, let’s take a gander at the subject of fuel. This is the 800 lb. gorilla that keeps fleet managers tossing and turning at night. Almost every fleet in existence has, or has had, a serious issue concerning their fuel cost….and issues with getting those costs under control. Time and again I’ve heard of fleet operations investing in a GPS tracking system, and then 6 months later when their fuel waste and shrinkage is still an issue, ask themselves what exactly it is that they’re doing wrong.

Let me start by clarifying a few things. First, a GPS tracking system is not a “if you build it, they will come” kind of technology. What I mean is, GPS vehicle tracking is very different from, say, antivirus software. With antivirus software, after you install it and configure your settings it essentially runs on it’s own in the background….in a fully automated fashion. When a GPS tracking system is properly implemented, most of your employees SHOULD be interacting with it on a daily basis….HR, Customer Service, Operations, etc. The tracking system streams live actionable information about your mobile fleet, and you and your employees utilize that information to make decisions that will provide a positive impact on your daily operations. That being said, when the topic is fuel, there are two major players that effect fuel economy….idle time and overspeeding; vehicle maintenance has a significant impact as well but we’ll leave that for the next article.

Knowing how much your fleet is idling or speeding and being able to do something about it are two very different things. Let’s cut to the chase….your vehicles aren’t on autopilot and they aren’t self-idling or self-speeding. This is a people problem and your drivers are the key to this conundrum. What most fleet operators fail to do is implement a fleet fuel savings program among their drivers. You’ve got to embrace the power of positive reinforcement!

A GPS fleet tracking system CAN and SHOULD become part of an improved corporate culture, and should be woven into the fabric of your business. This requires a grass-roots implementation plan. The new fleet tracking system should be introduced in training materials, talked about in department meetings, etc., and employees should get a healthy dose of it on a daily basis through ongoing training. For lack of a better phrase, the introduction of your GPS tracking system has to be relentlessly pounded home into the heads of your entire staff; not literally of course! An important part of this should be the fleet fuel savings program. Clearly lay out your goals for fuel savings with your drivers and run contests and offer incentives to the most fuel-efficient driver in your fleet. Run smaller contests on a monthly basis with smaller prizes….and a big quarterly contest with larger bonuses paid to the winner. This is funny but, an effective method is to pay the “cash” prize directly to the spouse…..usually the wife. If you think for one second that, after having cash in hand once already, the wives won’t be asking their husbands how they’ve been doing lately with their fuel efficiency….you’re nuts! In other words, if you really want to improve on your fleet fuel economy get the wives on your side!!

This should be enough to get the wheels in your head turning. I’ll be posting another article soon so be sure and check it out. Thanks for reading!