BY BEN VANAVERY, DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING, ADVANCED TRACKING TECHNOLOGIES
For any company with a fleet of light- or medium-duty vehicles, increasing profitability often comes down to fostering an environment of greater employee accountability.
The concept of accountability is defined as “the obligation of an individual to account for his/her activities, accept responsibility for them and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” Implied in this definition is the ability to verify tasks are completed as expected, on time, efficiently and per company policy. For fleet managers, this can be accomplished through real-time GPS tracking devices on all vehicles.
But accountability is not about discovering what a driver is doing wrong; it is actually more about what the driver is doing right. Even well-intentioned drivers may discover that there are areas of improvement and efficiencies that could make them more productive.
So, with a host of benefits for the employee, fleet managers who have avoided the leap to GPS tracking are missing out on a win-win scenario. After all, more accountable drivers lead to greater efficiency overall, which means increased profits. It’s an argument that is hard to deny, particularly as GPS tracking continues to improve while the cost of entry plummets.
HOLDING DRIVERS TO A HIGHER STANDARD
Although GPS trackers have been around for some time, advances in the technology allows for more real-time tracking and simplified reporting. This means assigning the closest vehicle to a job, which expedites delivery and saves gas, labor and vehicle wear-and-tear. It also allows historical routing analysis, which enables even greater routing efficiencies to be determined.
However, the greatest improvements in fleet management occur when GPS tracking devices are used to hold drivers to a clear, unbiased standard to encourage better performance for the company and themselves.
Advanced GPS tracking devices provide real-time location updates every 10 seconds, as well as location, speed and idle time alerts if something is amiss. The data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or PC on a 24/7 basis.
Now fleet managers know exactly where their vehicles and drivers are in real time. They can spot check their drivers to make sure they are where they are supposed to be and not at unauthorized places. The system pays for itself in enhanced productivity.
On the plus side for employees, the use of such GPS tracking systems helps verify on-time arrival at jobsites. And automated reporting such as that provided by an advanced system can virtually eliminate the reporting burden for employee and employer in regard to driving logs. Automated exception reporting can also flag potential issues that need to be corrected, such as excess vehicle mileage or idling.
Drivers and the work crew know they are accountable for their actions. Using such an approach with advanced GPS tracking commonly improves productivity 10-20 percent while reducing fuel costs 10-15 percent, as drivers start to pay attention to their driving and work habits throughout the day.
The GPS tracking system puts vehicles on a map, so managers can see all of them at once. The view can be narrowed to any department or geographic area, as desired. It is so accurate that it lets managers see exactly where a vehicle is parked.
With the GPS system, managers are able to notice and point out that even five- to 10-minute stops between jobs each day adds up to a lot of lost productivity. Drivers get quite used to the system and even appreciate it when it proves that they are getting to and doing their jobs as required.
Ben VanAvery is director of sales and marketing, a 12-year professional at Advanced Tracking Technologies (www.advantrack.com), a Houston, Texas-based designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products.