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Questions to Ask When Buying a GPS System for Your Fleet

With smartphones being a part of daily life for most Americans, it’s hard to believe that only two decades have passed since then-president Bill Clinton set forth a directive to make the nation’s GPS satellite system a dual-use system. While the GPS system was originally developed for military use, Clinton’s directive made it possible for the system to be used for civilian purposes as well.

Former president Ronald Reagan had initially pledged that the GPS system would be made available for civilian use once it was completed after the Soviets shot down Korean Air flight 007 in 1983, because the aircraft ventured into restricted air space. Clinton fulfilled that promise.

Even though the GPS system was available for civilian use, many businesses failed to appreciate its full potential because the government had purposefully degraded its civilian capabilities at the onset of the Gulf War to prevent the nation’s enemies from being able to manipulate the system to gain an advantage in combat. Although the availability of the GPS system didn’t have an immediate transformative effect on the national or global business communities, some companies did take advantage of the new technology.

Benefon, a company that made mobile phones, was one such company. Benefon produced the first mobile phone that had built-in GPS technology in 1999.

Just four years after he issued the directive to make the GPS system a dual-use system, Clinton put an end to the military’s continuing degradation of the GPS signals that were available for civilian use, a decision that did not go unnoticed by the transportation, fishing and forestry industries, among others. In 2007, the global business community’s confidence in the GPS system was further bolstered when the government announced that the next generation of satellites used in the GPS system would not have the technology to downgrade the system’s capabilities in the future.

In the years immediately preceding and following this announcement, business entities around the world began to look for ways to incorporate the use of the GPS system into their daily operations to give them a competitive edge and streamline their operations.

The Benefits of GPS Fleet Tracking Systems

If you own or work for a company that has commercial vehicles, you’re probably keenly aware that many businesses across the globe use GPS-based technology to manage their fleets of automobiles. If you don’t already use fleet management software, you may not be familiar with the many benefits this kind of technology can provide for your business.

If, like many business leaders before you, you’re interested in learning how you can use a fleet management system to gain a competitive edge and streamline your operations, you should examine the benefits GPS tracking systems provide. Being knowledgeable about these advantages will not only help you see the potential impact a fleet tracking system can have on your business, but it can also help you know which questions to ask when buying fleet management software.

By examining the advantages a GPS tracking system provides, you can identify the ones that are most important to your company and craft your list of inquiries accordingly.

The biggest potential benefit that implementing fleet management software provides is a significant return on investment. While the initial investment required to install a GPS fleet tracking system and the ongoing monthly operating costs may seem intimidating at first, you have to look at the big picture instead of the immediate expense involved with implementing a GPS fleet management system.

In some cases, companies can see a return of $2.00-$5.00 for every dollar they spend on a GPS fleet tracking system. That’s an ROI of between 200 and 500 percent. Just as encouragingly, many businesses are able to recover their investment in as little as three to six months.

A number of other benefits contribute to the ROI you’ll get from installing a GPS fleet management system. These advantages include the following:

  • Reduced Fuel Costs: Since a GPS tracking system lets you know how your commercial vehicles are being driven, it gives you the opportunity to correct driver behaviors that are driving up your fuel costs. You can tell a driver who is speeding to slow down in real-time, for instance. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, for every five miles one of your drivers goes over the speed limit, your cost per gallon of fuel can increase by as much as 20 cents.You can also tell the driver of an idling truck to get moving or turn his or her vehicle off to keep your fuel costs down. In general, it costs as much for a truck to idle for just one hour as it does for the vehicle to be driven a distance of 25 miles. You can alert your drivers about traffic jams and weather-related road conditions and re-route them accordingly as well, which will prevent them from having to idle in traffic jams.It’s not unusual for a business to be able to slash its fuels costs by as much as 10 percent by installing a GPS fleet tracking system. In addition to saving you money on fuel, the opportunity you have to correct a driver’s behavior in real-time can also help you save money in other areas such as vehicle maintenance. Industry figures show that you can save as much as 80 percent on maintenance simply by reducing the number of miles your employees drive your commercial vehicles over the speed limit.
  • Reduced Labor Costs: A fleet management system enables you to save money on labor in numerous ways. Because this type of system enables you to track when your vehicles are actually in service and who used them when, you’ll be able to generate reports that will reveal your drivers’ average daily, weekly and overtime hours. Since an employee’s hours are recorded electronically, it eliminates the possibility that a given driver will inflate his or her hours on the clock.Knowing when and where a vehicle is being used in real-time also gives you the chance to know exactly what your drivers are doing when they’re on the road. You can monitor your drivers to see if they are making unscheduled stops, straying from their planned routes or spending too much time at certain locations. This gives you the opportunity to reduce or eliminate overtime by correcting wasteful behaviors.Since a GPS fleet tracking system electronically records so much information that can be shared with multiple departments, you can reduce your administrative expenses as well. The number and type of hours your employees worked in a given week can be sent directly to your payroll processor, for example, eliminating the need for someone to create and tabulate timesheets for each one of your employees. Your system can also make your billing processes more efficient. Your fleet management system can be integrated with your billing system so that you can create custom invoices without the need for labor-intensive, back-end paperwork.
  • Reduced Repair Costs: A GPS fleet management system can help reduce your vehicle repair costs because it can monitor the well-being of your commercial automobiles and let you know when a vehicle needs routine maintenance. Keeping your commercial vehicles on a regular routine maintenance schedule can help keep them functioning efficiently and prevent expensive repairs that could have been avoided.Routine maintenance can also help you save money by prolonging the life of the vehicles in your fleet, which will prevent you from having to replace them prematurely. If a vehicle’s oil changes are put off often enough, you may end up paying $8,000 more to keep the automobile in working order over the course of its lifetime and you run the risk of shortening the vehicle’s useful life by up to 25 percent.
  • Reduced Mileage & Wear and Tear: A GPS fleet management system enables you to track your commercial vehicles in real-time, which gives you the chance to identify more efficient delivery routes and reduce the number of miles your automobiles are driven. If you can decrease the number of miles that are put on your vehicles’ odometers, you’ll reduce the wear and tear they experience from being on the road.
  • Reduced Theft & Unauthorized Use: Because a GPS fleet tracking system allows you to tell where your vehicles are at all times, you’ll know instantly if one isn’t where it’s supposed to be because it was stolen. A rapid response to a theft increases the chances that your vehicle and its contents will ultimately be recovered by the authorities. Since you’ll be able to tell the police where your vehicle is thanks to your GPS tracking system, they’ll know where to go to recover your vehicle or what route to follow if the stolen automobile is still moving. Depending on your system, you may be able to stop a stolen vehicle in its tracks by shutting it down remotely.In addition to letting you know if a vehicle is stolen, your GPS fleet management system will also tell you if one of your vehicles is used for an unauthorized purpose or is being driven during off-hours. If your employees have to move your vehicles around the yard so they can be loaded while you’re not there and you want to make sure no one is going for an expensive joy ride, you may be able to use your GPS system to set up a geofence.If your system has this capability, you’ll be able to establish parameters and you’ll receive an alert if one of your vehicles goes beyond the digital boundaries you set up. You can use this technology to ensure your drivers stay within their assigned delivery zones as well.
  • Reduced Fines: A study entitled “The Economic Benefits of Commercial GPS Use in the U.S. and the Costs of Potential Disruption,” prepared by NDP Consulting, reported that companies that use a fleet management system receive 40 percent fewer citations for speeding. About 11 percent of CSA violations are the result of something being wrong with an automobile’s tires, such as a lack of sufficient tread. In 2013, approximately 25 percent of the estimated 1,000,000 CSA violations that were given to commercial fleet drivers were issued because of problems involving the brakes on the automobiles they were driving.Since GPS fleet management systems tell you when your vehicles need to be serviced, they can help you avoid getting unnecessary, expensive CSA violations.In addition to saving you money for driving and vehicle infractions, a GPS system can save you money for violations that stem from your drivers’ required paperwork. In late 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, made it mandatory for every commercial driver in the United States to maintain an E-log of their activities instead of a paper record-of-duty log by December 16, 2017. A GPS fleet management system automatically records your drivers’ activities in an electronic Hos log, which can help you remain FMSCA and DOT compliant and avoid costly fines for incomplete paperwork in the short-term and records being kept improperly in the longer term.
  • Reduced Insurance Premiums: You can alter the behavior of your drivers by as much as 90 percent because your GPS fleet management system gives you the chance to correct unsafe driving behavior in real-time as often as is necessary for a driver to make a permanent change to his or her driving patterns. With the potential that a GPS tracking system has to increase your drivers’ safety standards, there is a realistic chance that implementing one will lower your insurance premium by 30 percent for each automobile included in your commercial fleet.

In addition to cutting costs to increase your bottom line, implementing a GPS tracking system can help you earn more revenue by optimizing your delivery routes. With more efficient routes, you can increase the number of deliveries your drivers can make in a single shift. If your company can make more deliveries per day, you can take more orders and earn more revenue. According to NDP Consulting’s report, companies that installed a GPS fleet tracking system experienced a collective increase of 25 percent in the number of the work orders they received because of their ability to fulfill orders faster.

Optimizing your delivery routes provides another valuable benefit: it improves the level of customer service you’re able to render. You’ll be able to give your clients more accurate delivery times, for instance. You’ll also be able to respond to requests for pickups faster because you’ll know which of your drivers is closest to the client who has requested a pickup and you’ll be able to re-route that driver to your client’s location.

How to Choose a Fleet Management System

Now that you know all of the benefits that a GPS fleet tracking system can provide, you’re probably eager to have one installed. While your enthusiasm is understandable, you have to know how to choose a fleet management system before you invest in one to make sure you’re getting the system that’s right for your business.

The first step in a fleet tracking buying guide is for you to identify the reasons you want to get a GPS fleet management system. Do you want to use your system to locate your vehicles only? Or, do you want your system to have the capacity to help you reduce your operating expenses, such as your fuel and labor costs, and increase your revenue as well?

Once you’ve determined the reasons why you want a GPS fleet tracking system, you need to figure out the number of vehicles you want your system to track and the area your GPS fleet management system will need to cover. Once you’ve figured these things out, it’s time to create a list of questions for the prospective GPS software vendors you’re going to interview.

Questions to Ask GPS Fleet Management System Providers

You should design your list of questions so that the responses you get will reveal more than just the price that a company is willing to install a GPS tracking system and support its day-to-day operation for. While price is generally an important factor in any business decision, you should consider many other factors as you’re choosing a service provider, including whether or not you think you’ll be comfortable working with a given provider on a regular basis.

One of the first questions that a GPS fleet tracking purchasing guide will recommend you ask is this: “How long has your company been in business?” It may be less risky for you to choose a company that has a proven history of success than it is to select a business that was established just recently and that lacks an extended track record. As a general rule of thumb, if a GPS software provider is actively hiring or the company is expanding by acquiring a competitor, it’s a good sign that the company intends to be in business for the long haul. What you want to avoid is buying a GPS fleet tracking system from a company that might be out of business in the foreseeable future.

You can also investigate the company’s trustworthiness by asking a prospective vendor for a list of references. You can reach out to other businesses that have fleets similar to yours and inquire about the experiences they’ve had with the company you’re interviewing.

Additional questions you should ask prospective GPS fleet tracking system providers include the following:

  • Can your GPS fleet management system be integrated with my other business systems? In order to save the most money possible by having a GPS tracking system installed in your business, the fleet management system must be able to be integrated with your other systems, such as billing and payroll. By sharing data between systems, you’ll be able to save on labor costs and greatly increase the likelihood that your records will be error-free. See if the vendor you’re talking to is able to use an API kit or another available option to create a custom system integration setup for your business.
  • Can the GPS fleet management system grow with your business? If you have plans to expand your business in the future, it makes sense to buy a GPS fleet management system now that can grow with your company over time instead of having to replace an outdated system with a higher-capacity system in the future. Even if you’re starting off with a small fleet, make sure a prospective vendor’s software has been tested on large fleets of vehicles and will be able to accommodate your needs as your fleet grows. Inquire about whether the software has tools that are particularly useful for managing large fleets of vehicles, such as spatial clustering and enterprise dashboards.
  • How reliant is your company on the services provided by third parties? It’s important to determine exactly how independent a GPS service provider really is by asking what platforms their mapping and technological capabilities are based on. If a vendor’s product is solely reliant on one mapping provider, for instance, it could cause problems for you if that provider of critical information changes the parameters for how its information can be used in commercial applications.The more components of a GPS fleet management system that a company has direct control over, the more likely it is that the company will be able to customize new GPS fleet management solutions as your needs change.
  • What are your customer service hours? A GPS service provider needs to be available whenever your company is open for business in case a problem arises. If the provider doesn’t offer round-the-clock support, at least make sure its customer service department’s hours of operation are the same as yours.
  • Is your GPS fleet tracking system web-based? Cloud-based software is particularly useful when it comes to fleet management systems. It provides remote access to information and seamless data backups, and it’s portable. Using this kind of software will keep your IT costs to a minimum, because you won’t have dedicated hardware requirements for your fleet management system.While cloud-based technology is becoming increasingly popular, hard-wiring is still a better choice in certain situations. A knowledgeable vendor will know which kind of setup is the better choice for your business.
  • How often has your GPS fleet management system experienced outages and how frequently is it updated? If a company’s tracking software has failed frequently in the past, it’s generally advisable to look for another service provider. You should make sure the system you choose is updated frequently enough to remain current and that your system will still be functional while the updates occur. If your GPS fleet management system must be offline during an update, ask when updates generally occur and how long they last.
  • Where will you install GPS tracking units in my vehicles, at my location or in your service center, and how long does installation take? Depending on the company you choose to work with, they may send technicians to your place of business to install GPS locators in your vehicles or you may have to absorb the cost of transporting your commercial automobiles to its service center. You will need to adjust your work and delivery schedules to account for the time that some of your vehicles will be out of service.
  • Do you provide onsite and continuing training? Some GPS tracking companies provide training onsite, while others offer training online. Whichever method a given company uses, make sure your employees will have ample time to ask questions during training. Ask about ongoing training opportunities as well, in case you hire new employees who are unfamiliar with your GPS fleet management system in the future. Does the company offer training modules that your new hires can use to learn how to operate your system?
  • Do I have to sign a contract? If you have to sign a contract and your business is seasonal, you’ll end up having to pay a monthly fee for your GPS fleet tracking system, even during the months when your commercial vehicles are parked at your loading dock. If you try to terminate your contract early to avoid having to pay a monthly fee during the months your business isn’t in operation, you may have to pay an early termination fee.To avoid these fees all together, work with a company that doesn’t require you to sign a binding contract.Be sure you pose the same questions to multiple prospective GPS software vendors so you can do a true GPS fleet tracking comparison at the end of the interview process based on the answers each company provided. In addition to asking each vendor the same questions, you should also ask yourself the following questions after each interview and factor your responses into your final decision:
  • Does the vendor want to just sell me something, or does the company genuinely want to help me? The after-sale support you’ll have access to is often just as important as the GPS fleet management system you buy. Make sure you pick a vendor that is committed to your success and able to provide the support you’ll need to reap as many benefits as possible after your system is installed. If a company is willing to sell you a system but only offers minimal support, consider finding another vendor to work with.When you’re shopping for a GPS service provider, you’re looking for an enduring partner — not a salesperson.
  • Will the company provide value, or is it just offering me a low price? A low price may save you money up front, but it can cost you over the long-term if you don’t choose the right company to work with. While the company may not offer the lowest price, a knowledgeable vendor that is committed to your company’s success provides the greatest lasting value. A dedicated partner will help you get the highest ROI from your GPS fleet management system long after it’s initially installed. Based on a vendor’s experience, your partner may even be able to add value by sharing ideas about how you can improve your business based on the company’s interactions with similar businesses.
Fleet Trax Offers GPS Tracking Solutions Across Industries

In business for more than a decade, Fleet Trax has the proven experience to provide GPS tracking solutions in all types of industries. Whether you own a taxi service, a towing company, a landscaping business, a plumbing and HVAC company, a trucking business or you compete in another industry altogether, we have a GPS fleet management system that can accommodate your business needs.

When you choose Fleet Trax for your GPS needs, you gain a trusted partner that is genuinely invested in your success. Our scalable GPS fleet management systems are capable of tracking your most valuable assets, your commercial vehicles and your products, no matter how many automobiles are included in your fleet. Whether you have a handful of drivers on the road at once or a crew of thousands, you’ll know where your vehicles are with our tracking systems.

We offer hard-wired and wireless cloud-based GPS tracking options that allow you to stay current with your fleet’s movements in real-time. Our GPS fleet management systems are intuitive and require minimal training to use. Our systems provide detailed reports on driver behaviors and the maintenance status of your vehicles, helping you reduce your fuel and labor costs and save on maintenance expenses.

Our easy-to-use GPS fleet tracking systems can help you avoid hefty fines because they generate the Hos logs your drivers need to remain AOBRD, FMCSA and DOT compliant electronically. In addition to helping you remain in compliance with the law, our menu of services also includes convenient fuel cards, geotracking and roadside assistance, as well. Our asset tracking capabilities will help you to know that your heavy equipment is only being used and deployed when and where you need it, too.

When you choose to work with us, you don’t need to sign a contract. We provide the ongoing training and technical support you need to get the most out of your GPS fleet management system for however long you decide to stay with us. Once you see all of the benefits our GPS fleet tracking systems provide, we’re sure you’ll want to keep us on as your committed partner well into the future.

As one of the top GPS providers in North America, we don’t just sell GPS fleet tracking products. We offer businesses just like yours the chance to enter into a partnership with a proven company that is invested in their success. As an industry leader, we set the example by providing affordable, appropriate GPS fleet management systems for businesses of all sizes and helping them achieve the maximum ROI from their systems.

We provide customer service that matches the quality of our state-of-the-art technology. When you work with us, you’ll have a dedicated account manager who will handle all of your GPS system ordering and training needs. You won’t be charged extra for the data you need to operate your business efficiently. You can extract the information you want from our system for free and you’ll always have access to your entire GPS system history, because we’ll never purge your data.

Whether you’re in construction, energy and mining, cable and telecommunications, government or another field, we have a GPS tracking solution for you. Give us call or chat with us online to learn more today.

By | 2016-12-12T16:39:17+00:00 September 26th, 2016|GPS News|
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