Is your company making the most out of your vehicles? Fleet management systems can quickly make your fleet more efficient, get your drivers to customers on time and streamline the back end of your business. If you plan to implement fleet management technology, these key factors will help you choose the right one.
Analyze Existing Needs
Before shopping for fleet management, analyze your company's needs. Do you require additional data to improve fuel efficiency? Are your drivers regularly late to service calls? Is ensuring accurate arrival times a central focus?
These types of questions will help you narrow exactly what type of fleet management system will be the most cost-effective option.
You should choose a fleet management system that easily integrates with your enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management or accounting applications in your back office.
Integration helps your drivers and technicians have a shorter learning curve as they adapt to the tracking technology. It also makes your back-end systems run as efficiently as possible when adding the data gathered for your fleet management system.
Even if the fleet management system is simple, you need support. Choose a system backed by strong technical and
customer support, including options for installation and integration. If you will need custom integration, then look for this service offering. Ensure that ongoing support is strong, as well.
As part of that support, it's a good idea to find a company that offers training. Even the most tech-savvy driver in your fleet may need training on the software's specific applications. Consider working with a company that provides such training. Whether in person or through training documentation, you will need to have tools to train your team to use the system well.
Flexibility and Scalability
Your company will not need the same level of features in a fleet management system that a 500-truck delivery company needs, so look for a system that is scalable to meet your demands. Many systems have the option to plug in different aspects to create a custom fleet management system.
As your company grows and technology changes, however, your needs may change. A flexible system will allow you to adapt to those modifications. To get this flexibility, look for a company that has full-service systems and offers "a la carte" options, allowing you to pick and choose those parts of the system that best accommodate your business.
If you're regularly in the field working with customers while also monitoring fleet location, you will need a way to track that fleet while on the go. Mobile solutions through tablet or smart phone apps allow you to continue performing regular work while also monitoring your fleet and drivers. When considering various vendors, look at what is available on their mobile systems.
Find out what system features are included on the mobile solution, and choose the company that offers the majority of its features, or at least the features you will need access to, on a mobile platform.
Fleet management systems are an investment, and you want to ensure you're getting a return for that investment. Ask the sales team about the typical return on investment (ROI) their customers have, and how long it takes to recoup your investment. It can take three to six months to recoup your investment, but you need to see some form of data that shows a typical return.
If the vendor does not have data about the system's ROI, consider asking for and calling references. Hearing from other customers about ways the system has delivered proven value can help you determine potential ROI without hard and fast data points.
Consider More Than Price
When determining what solution to use, always have a few options. Do not simply purchase the first system that fits your budget. Instead, analyze more than one solution at a time so you can see what is available.
As a business owner, focusing on price alone is natural. Day after day you're looking to improve your bottom line, cut costs and improve profits. Yet, when shopping for fleet management systems, look for value before considering price.
A low-priced fleet management system that provides minimal support and meets few of your needs is a waste of money. When researching the various companies that offer fleet management systems, look for one that adapts to industry changes and has a long-term plan for future changes.
To stay in front of competition, you need to manage resources (including your vehicles) well — and fleet management will help. With these strategies, you can find a fleet management system that is ideal for your company's needs and backed with strong customer and technical support.
Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies. Fleet management solutions are used in various industries. For additional information, visit trackyourtruck.com.