According to the 2013 MobileResource ManagementSystems Market study by C.J. Driscoll & Associates, approximately 5.5 million GPS/wireless devices are used to monitor fleet vehicles, trailers, construction equipment and mobile workers. In 2012, C.J. Driscoll & Associates found that U.S. plumbing and HVACR fleets had more than 400,000 vehicles and 25-30 percent were using a GPS tracking solution.
HVACR contractors might not realize having GPS for their fleet is different from having a GPS fleet management system — it’s the difference between the ability to simply get turn-by-turn directions and an intelligent business solution for your fleet.
Fleet management systems provide HVACR businesses with a complete, up-to-the minute picture of their entire fleet. Through advanced GPS tracking and sensor technology, the system can provide updates in real-time, 24 hours aday. This enables HVACR businesses of all sizes to gain better visibility into their operations to drive down costs and better serve customers. Here are four ways fleet management systems can help you run your business efficiently.
Get More Out of 9-5
Increasing workforce productivity is one of the key benefits to using fleet management systems. Because employees know the system is able to monitor their location in real-time, they go to greater lengths to ensure they’re working as efficiently as possible. This includes reduced overtime, elimination of time sheet fraud with a true start to finish timeframe, monitored private vehicle use and elimination of prolonged stop time. Overall, fleet management helps businesses reduce labor costs by encouraging fleets to work smarter, not harder. Reports can illustrate actual hours a vehicleis in operation, daily actual start and finish times, average daily hours and weekly totals. Regular review of these reports can lead to maximized job efficiency and time management while on the clock for each employee.
Example: A global, market-leading manufacturer of residential and commercial HVAC systems found some employees were charging the company an additional three to four hours per week, and some were even charging an extra two hours a day. Using fleet management reports, the company was able to do away with time sheet discrepancies, improve payroll accuracy and significantly reduce overtime.
Ensure Fleet Safety & Security
Fleet security and safety is a top priority, and fleet management is one way to ensure trucks and employees are kept secure. Using fleet management software to monitor your truck’s whereabouts is a smart way to avoid additional expense, and is particularly well matched to small- and mid-sized businesses who want affordable, pay-as-you go business solutions that are easy to implement.
Fleet management solutions allow business owners to virtually ride along with their drivers and monitor speed, harsh driving and prolonged idling time. Another benefit is the ability to quickly recover stolen vehicles, qualify for reduced auto insurance or expanded coverage, respond to emergencies or eliminate unauthorized vehicle use. At the click of a button, owners can see the precise location of each truck in their fleet, easily confirm planned stops were made and view and replay any journey made by a vehicle.
Example: A Pennsylvania-based HVACR company with a 37-vehicle fleet was concerned about reducing insurance costs. The insurance company was worried about speeding and the safety of some younger drivers. Once the insurance company knew the contractor began using GPS tracking and could use driving alerts to show proof of compliance, they were assured and put the young driverson the insurance policy.
Customers Always Comes First
Customers expect you to do everything you can to have your technicians respond as quickly as possible to their emergency. In reality, technicians may have 10 other service calls to make and each job may take half an hour. But, what matters is the customer.
Fleet management technology enables dispatchers to see direct routes and efficiently guide field technicians to reach a greater number of customers each day. With less travel time between jobs, technicians have more time to spend at job sites to ensure the job is done thoroughly. Dispatchers can provide tighter time windows for service calls and the company can provide historical proof of service.
Example: Live-tracking was a major benefit for a 14-truck HVACR fleet based in South Windsor, Conn. Because they knew where their truckswere at all times, the company was able to provide its customers with a 24-hour emergency service and allow its employees to take their service trucks home.
Pinch Pennies at the Pump
Fuel costs are of the utmost concern, since fuel spikes occur seasonally and around various holidays, just as increases in service calls do. When running acompany with any number of trucks, from five to several thousand, this cost of fuel quickly adds up and takes a toll on profits. Fleet management enables smart driving and, in return, cost-effective driving. If you know which technicians are closest to a service call, or which routes are under construction or jammed with traffic, you can save gallons of fuel each day.
Fleet tracking can also help reduce unnecessary idling, cease unauthorized use and improve routing and dispatching. Some fleet management tools will even push alerts automatically to flag when vehicles idle more than the set threshold of time, when they’re startedup outside of work hours or when they leave a certain area.
Example: The same global manufacturer of residential and commercial HVAC solutions was also looking to remain viable in the market as rising fuel prices were threatening to severely cut profits. Fleet management technology allowed them to save $85,000 in fuel costs alone in a single year. Idling reports also allowed the companyto reduce idling time to just 10 minutes per vehicle per day.
Fleet management technology is an especially critical business tool when it’s applied to an industry crowded with competition and a clientele base that demands quick service. It arms HVACR business owners with fleets of all sizes with the visibility and data needed to work smart, achieve insight into day to day business operations, drive downcosts and grow the business without growing the fleet.
Jonathan Durkee is vice president, productmanagement for Fleetmatics, a provider offleet management solutions for small- andmedium-sized businesses. Prior to his currentrole, Durkee was VP Sales and ProductManagement for SageQuest, a GPS fleetmanagement software company acquiredby Fleetmatics in 2010. For additionalinformation, visit www.fleetmatics.com.