Testing GPS Tracking & Telematics Systems

Are You Ready to Test GPS Tracking & Telematics Systems?

Preparing for testing a GPS Tracking and Telematics system feels overwhelming. One option offered by Fleetistics is a pilot program.  Pilots are a short-term test to confirm what has been presented to small fleets or fleets with fewer needs. Another option we offer is the SEP, or Solution Evaluation Process.  This option is attractive and beneficial for large fleets with complex GPS Tracking and Telematics needs.

GPS Tracking

The 60 day SEPs process ensures total clarity on all aspects of the deployment.  Clients are guided through everything from installation, to configuration, to training and support. By the end of the SEP process, customers know what issues can be resolved and the potential ROI to be captured by implementing GPS Tracking and Telematics. This process ensures a good decision is made. Don’t worry, a business analyst with over 20 years of experience and a highly trained sales team lead you through the process.

Customers that complete the SEP process are about 80% trained and have the knowledge to change their organization in significant ways using the fleet management data generated by GPS Tracking and Telematics. Moving into a production deployment is easy since most of the fleet configuration is handled during the SEP process. Examples of configuration include alert and reporting groups, functional area groups, rule creation and tuning, and zone import.

Quantify GPS Tracking & Telematics Systems Effectiveness

 

Generally, enterprise-class fleets preparing to make a major investment appreciate the SEP process and are willing to commit the time and resources needed to avoid costly mistakes. The SEP results make the business case for you by quantifying the expected return on investment. The SEP process is not just for private company but is also great for government agencies. Government agencies can significantly enhance the quality of an RFP after engaging in this process. 

In the video below, CEO Eron Iler and Senior Business Analyst Kim Thoman discuss the benefits of initiating a SEP into a fleet business and importance with the tools and expertise to understand the data which be used to change a customer’s processes to drive ROI with GPS Tracking and Telematics.

Tracking Large Fleet YT

A complete SEP takes about 75 days from installation to final evaluation.  In some cases it requires a limited financial investment.  Be prepared to invest some time and man-hours. A timeline is outlined by our business analyst and agreed to by the customer prior to starting. Regular meetings are held to review the project progress, and access to vehicles and field personnel is required to study operations, processes and implement change after the 30 day mark. Be willing to commit the time for upper management to keep up with the progress on an ongoing basis.

For more information on how Fleetistics can get your company started on a SEP, be sure to read more about it here and check out our Sample SEP Timeline below.

How to Get Started With A SEP

Sample SEP
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Fleet Preparation for Hurricanes

Fleet Preparation for Hurricanes

Fleet preparation for hurricanes and other natural disasters is a necessary step in general fleet management. Your GPS system is an invaluable tool in this preparation. From vehicle and equipment locations to current fuel levels, your GPS system provides the tools necessary to prep for the hurricane as well as the tools necessary to manage in the aftermath.

Vehicle driving in storm

Fuel Availability

The first step in Fleet preparation for hurricanes hurricane is to ensure the availability of fuel. In the aftermath of a hurricane or large tropical storm, rarely do fueling stations have the power necessary to pump fuel from storage tanks. Prior to the hurricane, make sure all vehicle and storage fuel tanks are full. If your organization maintains a local fuel supply, top off your vehicles at local gas stations to preserve locally stored fuel for after the hurricane. After a hurricane, the issue isn’t a lack of available fuel, it’s the inability to pump the fuel due to lack of electrical power. Most GPS systems report fuel levels of vehicles. This feature simplifies determining the vehicles that need fueling as well as the ability to monitor fuel levels in remote vehicles.

Missed Business Opportunities

If your business is one that will be in high demand after a hurricane, you should plan to capitalize on the situation as quickly as possible. To be ready you need three things in place. Inventory, people and systems. Determine what items are going to be in high demand and stage them at a safe location. Competitors who do not do this will not be able to get inventory for days or weeks and your business can thrive. People must be ready to return to work. Knowing who will be available will determine how much post hurricane work you can get done. Last is business systems must be in the cloud so they can be accessed from home or from any computer based on where Internet and power is available. Fleetistics uses Microsoft 365 from IGTech365 so employees can work from anywhere, anytime, with an Internet connection. Files are backup to the cloud using Azure and servers are virtual or co-located to avoid flood damage.

fuel level in tank

Fleet Preparation for Hurricanes -Staging Location

The next step in fleet preparation for hurricanes is to stage your fleet location. Make sure vehicles are protected from wind and water as much as possible. The primary danger to vehicles from the wind is falling trees or power lines. Hurricane force winds may not be high enough to affect the vehicle directly, but even a category one hurricane has winds high enough to take down power lines and trees. Power lines can take a vehicle out of service by blocking the vehicle’s path or by falling on the vehicle. After a hurricane, downed power lines are a danger because many times they are live. Falling trees are directly responsible for more damage to vehicles than wind. Stage your fleet in a location that mitigates the effects of downed power lines and falling trees as much as possible. Your GPS system provides the tools necessary to monitor your vehicles whether the staging area is at your location or a more secure remote location.

vehicle locations fleet management preparation for hurricanes

Organizationally, designate a disaster manager. This position should be the single point of contact for all fleet preparation for hurricanes and communications. The disaster manager and their team should have a reliable communication system that isn’t dependent on power from the electrical grid. In the case of cell phones, backup power sources for charging should be available. In many situations the fleet vehicles can be a source of power to recharge communication devices. Cell phones and tablets provide access to your GPS system. Since GPS systems are hosted, they will be available to internet connected devices. Many GPS systems offer a mobile app. Most of the mobile apps do not provide access to all features of the system. Using­­ a tablet provides a more convenient way to access the full GPS system by using a browser.

After The Hurricane

In the aftermath of a hurricane, the security of vehicles and equipment is paramount. Theft is a major concern after the hurricane passes. A GPS system provides the ability to create zones or geofences. This provides the ability to designate and monitor approved locations for vehicles and equipment. GPS systems can provide notification when vehicles or other device equipped assets are removed from designated areas.

After the storm

Many organizations use multiple GPS systems. Vehicles are managed by systems that specialize in reporting vehicle specific data. Other systems specialize in tracking trailers and other equipment. Fleetistics provides a unique tool for monitoring multiple systems in a single window. During and after a disaster, switching between multiple systems is an inconvenience and it uses more power through maintaining multiple connections to servers. Fleetistics offers a system that displays vehicles, equipment, and other assets in a single window. This simplifies monitoring all assets as well as conserves power.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, local, state, and federal government resources need time to deploy. After the hurricane, most government agencies, state organizations and individuals should prepare to be totally self-sufficient for at least 3 days. Crowd sourcing apps like the PubSafe app from Aftermath Data can be a great help both with internal and external disaster related communications.

Disaster planning can mitigate many of the challenges during and after the hurricane. Stockpile as much fuel and consumables as possible. Designate a disaster manager. Plan for the location of vehicles and other assets. Use the tools provided by your GPS system to monitor asset location as well as fuel levels and other parameters reported by the system.

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Vehicle Speed Monitored By GPS

While there are certain times that speed is needed, what may really be needed is speed management for improved driver safety. And while there are various ways to determine speed, monitoring speed by GPS is here and now – and even the wave of the future.

In our modern times, technology has advanced to using satellites for GPS tracking, which measures the time and distance between points on the ground and calculates the speed  taken to move from point A to point B.

How Vehicles Calculate Speed

More Accurate Speed Management

But the real benefit of vehicle speed monitored by GPS is the lack of moving parts which can wear out such as tires, cables and tire pressure. Speed management must look at factors such as vehicle type, function, location, road conditions, weather, environment, and more.

This is what makes GPS speed more accurate than the OEM speedometer found standard in most vehicles, as well as older vehicles. However, GPS speed, sometimes, can be flawed, as it is dependent on satellite signals. If reception is blocked, speed calculations can be flawed or skewed, which, in turn, affects the data you will receive on your vehicles or entire fleet.

Test it for Yourself

Therefore, if there are no extenuating circumstances, especially no blocked signal, vehicle speed monitored by GPS is more accurate than and OEM speedometer. Factors such as tire pressure and wear  affect the OEM speedometer reading– so much so that  you can easily compare the two.  Just use  a smart phone to monitor the GPS speed while looking at the OEM speedometer in the dashboard. You will often see a 3 MPH difference between these two devices.

Take Speed Management to the Next Level

If you’re looking to see an improvement in speed management, adding dashcams to your GPS tracking and telematics takes it to the next level. Dashcams bring a visualization to the circumstances in which speed is an important variable. Dashcams can help answer questions such as “Was a vehicle driving too fast for the weather conditions?” “Did the driver accelerate to run the yellow light?” With dashcam video information, fleet managers can better evaluate a situation to determine the best course of action to improve driver behavior. Although fleet dashcams are an optional expense, many insurance companies are now requiring them to combat false accident claims and improve driver safe driving habits.

CrewChief Dash Cam with external driver facing camera

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10 Tips for Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees

10 Tips for Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees

Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees is an uncomfortable conversation for most fleet owners, but it does not need to be. One of our most popular web pages over the years has been about that subject, so it is clear that new clients are looking for an assist. With that in mind, Kim and Eron decided to have a brutally honest discussion about what they have seen over the years when deploying new fleets with tracking technology.

In this interview, many of the most sensitive questions are answered and a lot of good advice shared. Even if you have already deployed your fleet, a refresher meeting with your drivers to clear the air regarding any misconceptions is beneficial. We want everyone to get off to a great start by introducing GPS fleet tracking to employees in a positive way.

Transcript of Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees
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Hi everybody! This is Eron with Fleetistics and today I’m with Kim Thoman, who is our business analyst. Between the two of us, I think we have over 40 years of GPS tracking and telematics experience, so we have seen quite a few things over those years. And today we’re going to be talking about introducing GPS tracking and telematics to your employees.

When we look at our analytics on our website this is actually one of the most popular web pages that we have and we get a lot of questions, and have always gotten a lot of questions about you know what do employees think what’s going to happen are employees going to quit things of that nature. And so we created a guide which we will link to so you can download the guide and you can read through this information on your own at your own speed and time and we’re going to talk about a lot of things in those guide, but that guide’s there for you to access and to utilize then to reference, and really kind of take and make it your own and then use that to create a plan so everybody that is part of this decision making process is comfortable with the way this is going to go. So, Kim, kind of get us started with some of the things that, that you have seen or you know. You know, what are some of the initial comments that people need to know and understand about rolling this technology out?

A Little Background

Sure so, just a little background having us been in the industry for so long, I think that in today’s day and age, especially in service and delivery type atmospheres it’s probably few and far between where a driver hasn’t at some point work for a company that has a GPS telematics device installed. So it’s a little bit easier to kind of have that introductory meeting. But some of the things that initially when this technology came out is it’s always had this negativity surrounding the big brother atmosphere, and that is really not at all one at all what this is. We definitely promote it from an efficiency perspective improving different route management. It’s really to monitor your fleet the increased fuel savings. It’s not designed for somebody to sit in front of a computer and watch dots on a map. That’s not the functionality and we want to explain and communicate why it’s being deployed within your organization.

I have sat on numerous different company meetings where as the GPS representative I could handle some of the technical type questions, and then when it comes to some of the policy questions where somebody says, “What happens if I do get caught speeding?” well that’s something that is definitely going to have to internally be determined by company policy and upheld. In my opinion if you have all this data you really have to instigate some policies that surround it that also fit with the culture of your organization as it is today. Otherwise the data is just data, and as we know that’s it it just provides you with information. It’s what you do to act on it.

First Things First When Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees

So the first thing I would recommend is that you once you have the solution, before you even get it installed in the vehicles, I would sit down. And if you have to do it in groups because of shifts that’s fine, but sit down with your employees and explain why and that you are deploying the solution in your fleet. This will not only give them the opportunity to ask questions about it, but you’re being open and up front with them. You’re not trying to sneak a solution in and then be, for lack of better words, shady as to why you’re deploying it. You are being open up front about the efforts you are to maintain savings keep the drivers safe. You know as I’ve probably said in some of these other videos, it’s all about every driver coming home safely every day. That is part of the functionality of the solution, so it’s really an effort into how you describe it and position the solution, because it can really be a benefit to the employees as well. They can be rewarded for good driving behavior and coached for bad.

Yeah, back when this whole thing started we got a lot of requests for hey can you install it so nobody knows, right, and 100% of the time the response is yes, but it’s a really, really bad idea. If you do something like that you’re driving a wedge into the team, right? And if management is just another employee that has a different function than a field service technician that goes out and interacts with the customers and generates the revenue. Doing something to split the team like quote unquote spying on somebody out there, doesn’t do anybody any good. You know if the team is moving in the same direction then this is a technology that is going to benefit the team. And you have to approach it that way.

What about Big Brother?

Now I’m a little bit less concerned about big brother approach myself. Big brother’s part of it. When you know, when I first rolled gps tracking technology out and I was a customer, I was a user back in the 90’s, big brother was a part of it. You know it was. You can’t deny that, and I think if you do, and this is my opinion is if you try to say it’s not big brother, people are going to look at you like you’re lying, right? Because you will catch people doing something wrong. But what we want to do is focus on catching people doing something right, right, and make it that positive experience versus a negative experience. So, you know any part of a business that you have, you have checks and balances and audits, right? And when you send somebody into the field, what’s your method of checks and balance and audits, right?

You have a service ticket that’s only a very small snapshot of a function being reported by somebody as opposed to we need to verify routes we need to verify stop times, service quality, perhaps PTO monitoring, things of that nature that all indicate that the level of service that we’re delivering is top-notch. So those are some things to keep in mind, but I do like the group setting to roll out, answer some questions. They don’t need to know how to run the system. They don’t need to know you know a whole bunch about how it works, but the fact that hey it’s going to be there and we’ve got a list of benefits in the, in the download that you can get that list out all the different benefits but you know selling that positive side and then reinforcing that positive on a regular basis is a key part of that.

Yeah, and at the end of the day, I mean as a manager working for a company or a business owner you want to make your business as effective, efficient, and profitable as possible. And why not take the opportunity to use this type of technology and harness those savings and additional revenue, because it would be a bad business choice to think otherwise when it’s proven that these solutions will save money.

Driver Scoring

And you can look at individual positive performance changes so you can get a driver score and you can work with each individual driver but you can also look at the entire team and the team might be a service group or a delivery group or a repair group you know, there’s always a sales group. Whatever the group is, then you can start to look at the team as a whole and look at the members within the team and help them understand how they’re either meeting or not meeting the standards that are set. And you, you know you come up with best in class who are the top performers in each one of those groups, and then how do you measure metrics of the others to get them to achieve the same results. And then what we used to do is we used to post a ranking of those scores where everybody could see them. And you don’t have to say much about them, you know people know being on the top a good score is on the top, and the bad scores on the bottom, and if you’re on the bottom all the time, guess what? You know eventually you, you’re going to get called in and have a conversation because something’s been going wrong.

Yeah, it’s that gamification taking over and uh it’s actually a really good way to just sort of organically enforce your policies because like you just said, nobody likes being at the bottom so they’re just inherently going to be trying to do better in the future. Inevitably you’re always going to have those employees that were doing something they weren’t supposed to before, and they just refused to adapt to the new technology and continue that behavior. That’s why you it’s important to in these meetings, to outline what your company policy is based on this telematics data kind of incorporated into it. That way, they understand from up front, look if you do this three times or you hit 80 miles an hour in my vehicle, that you know constitutes as immediate termination, whatever that policy might be, as stringent or um eased as it could be, that needs to be explained to them up front because then they know and they have no way to come back say, “Well I didn’t know, and you’ve got these devices in there and it’s not fair and…” Well you shouldn’t have been doing it and we’ve given you multiple opportunities to correct that driving behavior. Look we want to have you working for us outside of these little quirks with maybe some driving technique or things that you might not supposed to be doing you’re a very good employee and we want to be able to reward you for that, but we need to show that you’re putting in your part as well and following following our company policies because essentially each employee is setting representation of not only your organization, but also the standards that you want to have represented as a company when you’re in front of customers, when you are in front of other employees. It’s just important to keep things consistent.

Well you brought up like a half dozen things, rabbit holes that we can go down. The first one is you can’t, you know I wouldn’t recommend focusing on what happened yesterday, right? You’ve got a fresh start. You’re putting new technology in and what happens from this moment forward, you know, is really where you’re grading them and changing the level of accountability. The easiest example is if you have take-home vehicles and you know yesterday you were suspicious of somebody driving that vehicle after hours or something, but you’re putting the technology in today and going forward. If you drive the vehicle for personal use after hours, then you know that’s on you, you know. You know that we’re able to monitor it. You know that we have standards and you’re choosing to violate that policy. The other thing is that you know you like you said some people are stubborn and some people aren’t going to change. They can refuse to change, but at that point they’re making that choice to no longer work for you because they don’t want to adapt and do the things that you’ve asked them to do as their employer.

So it’s completely reasonable to have an expectation that somebody does the things that you want them to do and how you want them to do it. You’re paying them in exchange for their labor. You’re paying them to do things in a manner that you’ve outlined, so it makes the opportunity for wrongful termination claims. Last, you get to protect your business from that type of thing. You get a fair process where other employees get to see that you have taken multiple steps to try to retain people because at the end of the day the last thing we want to do is replace somebody. And if you think about the consequences of terminating somebody you know from a business manager perspective, I don’t want to add work to my plate, but what do you do when you terminate somebody?

I’ve got to go to HR, I’ve got to post a job, I’ve got to review resumes, I’ve got to do interviews, I’ve got to you know get drug testing done, I’ve got to you know bring them in, now I’ve got to put them on a training track… all of those things are a consequence of letting somebody go, where it is way way easier just to get them to change the behavior, right? Yeah, and you can do that in a positive way, so not everybody’s going to be immediate to get on board.

A Real Life Example

You know when I was with Orkin Pest Control back in the 90’s, I had a technician had 19 years of experience. I still remember his name. His name was Bart, and Bart would go to his customers family events, birthdays, picnics. I mean that’s how close he was to the customers, and Bart actually quit working because he felt that you know things had to be done his way and customers would never agree to change. Well he was wrong, and after you know he quit, we ran his route anyway and customers remained happy. He actually came back and said, “You know what? I’m gonna do this. I’ve had time to think about it.” And within two, three months Bart was singing the praises of you know being able to make his route more efficient and get the same amount of work done because Bart was older at that point and he was getting the same satisfaction and joy from the customer interaction but he was getting done at 5:30 instead of 8:30, and you know he realized you know at his age he had more opportunities to go do the things that he wanted to do. So in the long run that that structure, accountability, efficiency, allows those types of benefits that you don’t realize come about in the you know in the long run, so it is a lot more than just you know hey, someone’s going to be spying on me. It’s about making the business the best it can be.

Absolutely! I can say that if I were a fleet manager or of any business whether it’s government, private sector, and it didn’t have GPS, I’d be pushing for it from day one. (Yeah) I just think it’s an invaluable tool.

I had gps tracking on my truck. I brought the technology to work in pest control back in the 90’s, and then as part of that roll out it got put onto my truck and I was never the type of guy that didn’t do my job, but every time I ran into a quick trip in Atlanta, I was thinking you know, you know I need to be efficient, because in the old days the antenna was on the roof. So every time you came out it was a visual reminder that you know, hey there’s somebody that could be looking and am I doing the right thing when no one is looking? And there was never a problem, but it kept me you know kind of focused on the concept of efficiency. So it wasn’t a it wasn’t a big deal but you know it is a reminder. And posting driver scores in the break room as part of that process, you know, so let’s talk about policy. Have you any particular recommendations about policies? I know we have a policy that was originally written by Orkin back in the day that we’ll also make available for download. People can read that and talk about it and what have you make it their own.

I recall with the Orkin policies you know there are certain ones that they have a little bit more extended for warnings after one, two, or three, but there are, when i was referring to hey if you go 80 miles an hour or higher in one of our company vehicles it’s immediate termination. Some companies might think that’s a very harsh policy, but you know what? It’s very smart and you know safety is a culture. So we want to make sure that just as well as you have formed your safety policies you format your GPS policies around those. So you tie them back to so if you have a straight up 80 mile an hour and they might have had that policy before they implemented GPS, but they had no way unless you rode around in the vehicle with the driver which obviously is not productive. We have better things to do with our day. But it you know it gave them, it gave them that visibility. So the policy was there before. Now they’re just tying it in with the tool that gives them the visibility to actually act on the policy.

So my recommendation is to review your current company policies that come, that you have today with your vehicles, and use those to implement your policy structure with GPS. So if you already have a three strike warning for when somebody does speed 10 miles over the posted speed limit for example, wherever they are, then enforce that. Give them a warning. Give them another warning, and then give them their final notice. You know, you need to make sure you have some sort of policy, give, you got to give them time to fix that driving behavior. You know you can’t just say hey you need to change this and then expect it to happen overnight . Give them a little bit of time to show you that they can do what the pump company policy is asking of them.

Does that have to be, you know you don’t have to be warning, warning, termination. It could be, right, verbal warning, written warning, suspension, you know a one day off, three days off unpaid, and then determination, you know, if if you wanted to. I mean, find what’s going to work for your business and the culture of your organization. You know Orkin happened to be very strict. I had a, I had a service manager got fired, and this is the other point about policy… don’t roll out a policy that you are not willing to enforce, right? If you are going to say “if you drive 80 miles an hour you’re done, period, no exceptions,” and then you don’t enforce it the first time it happens because it’s your best technician, then every technician after that’s going to have a legal claim against you for not fairly applying you know your policy.

So be smart about what you’re willing to do, and it varies by industry too. There’s sometimes, and it’s supply and demand, right? In some industries technicians are super hard to find. It takes a long time to find somebody with the right skill set and experience to do the job that you want to do. You’ve got to be more lenient to keep your business running. If you fire all your technicians, what happens? You know your business stops generating revenue, so you’ve got to apply that practical application component. But as supply increases as there’s more and more people available, then you can change the, you know the standards to be more and more strict.

The other thing is, I would not bring this up in a meeting, by default if you explain that people can see where you go and what you do and where you stop and how long you’re there, everybody understands that there’s these types of this type of data is visible it creates visibility right so you don’t need to have a negative conversation in the rollout conversation. They just need to know that this type of thing is available downstream for driver behavior modification. And I think the other thing is you know well if someone drives 80 miles now they get terminated.

Well the gps systems today have buzzers in them. Right? They can warn the drivers and actually play an audio file that says “hey you’re speeding you need to slow down”, so it’s very clear there’s no misinterpretation of the exception that’s being generated you know, so it’s not like it’s all or nothing. There’s this process that’s important and there’s tools to help the you know the drivers modify that behavior to keep everything fair, because again, the last thing we want to do is turn over a position and have to start the hiring process, the training, and experience process all over again.

I agree with you on that one 100%!

Have you ever seen drivers quit because of GPS?

Yes, I have, but the way I look at it, I try and put my brain in, in a business owner’s mindset, and if they quit because you got GPS, then you probably didn’t want them working for you in the first place, because God only knows what they might have been doing with that vehicle behind your back before. So you know at that point it’s you have to, there are times where you just kind of got to wash your hands and move on and so be it. You know, that is their right. If they quit they quit it’s not like they can come after for unemployment or anything like that. They left on their own recourse, so you give them the opportunity. All you’re doing is making a business decision. To be honest with you, when you have employees that straight up quit like that then I’m like, okay well at least I know now, and you just find somebody to replace them at that point. Whether they were your best technician or not, there is a reason why they’re going to make that decision. They either have something else lined up, they really can’t deal with the GPS tracking them, or you know they they they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

It’s accountability, that’s where the problem lies. The accountability to do the things that need to get done . I can think of two stories. One is, I have only known of one situation where in 21 plus years where three electricians quit, and they were generating ten thousand dollars a month in overtime. And when the owner, you know this local electric company here in Tampa, when the owner announced that this was going to be implemented, those three guys quit before the GPS were ever installed, because they knew the game was over. They were gonna go they’re gonna just go to the next electrical company and do the same thing. And what they found was that, the owners found was that A, the the ten thousand dollars a month in overtime went away immediately, they didn’t have a lack of service, they took the three routes and they spread load amongst the other service technicians, they dropped their payroll by three people, they dropped their trucks by three people, and they got rid of ten thousand dollars in overtime. That system literally paid for itself before it ever even got delivered to customers location, but that’s the only time in 21 plus years that I know of, that you know somebody quit. Obviously they were stealing.

The other time was in Oregon back in the early part, we went from 32 routes to 27 because we were able to see the inefficiencies of, of the routes and we took six routes, we spread load the the customers across the 27 remaining routes, we got rid of three vehicles you know, three drivers, and not that we needed to, but you know we tried to find work for them elsewhere, there’s not they were bad they were just you know there wasn’t enough to do once the routes got efficient. There wasn’t enough work to do to keep everybody busy so they couldn’t earn commission to feed themselves and things like that, so you know some changes had to be made to help everybody. But those are the only two times I can think of, yeah.

I’ve only had that in one circumstance myself and it’s few and far between you know, very rare.

1o Key Points When Introducing GPS Fleet Tracking to Employees

I wanted to run down, I’m just going to read the employee benefits that we have in this document and there’s nine of them. So you know, download it and then read the details and then figure out how this relates to what you guys do.

Higher customer retention, that’s kind of interesting so read on that one.

Protection against false claims, we kind of mentioned that.

Service time tracking, you know, is time at the job site a key component of quality service? When is it too much? When is it too little? A hands-free mileage log, you know how many miles are you driving on a route? Why are some routes driving more than others? Can you move to a vehicle take-home policy, and what benefit does that bring you know does it improve things or does it cost more to allow that? What are some of the things that you need to be thinking about? Increased company agency profits. How does accountability, efficiency, productivity all tie into the gps data and how does that lead to profitability?

Number seven, what new incentives might be available based on the information that you’re collecting?

Number eight is increased driver safety. Right, I think we can think of a lot of things related to driver safety and how that impacts profitability, risk, everybody coming home at night and those things.

And then number nine, improve driver morale. I’m not gonna say anything else about that because that’s really kind of like a big question mark that you get from how does morale get better because we’ve improved accountability across the organization.

So, Kim, any final thoughts on introduction of gps tracking and telematics to employees before we wrap it up?

No, um well actually yeah one one thing. I just want to reiterate that again we just we want to enforce. Please don’t try and make this something that you’re hiding from your employees. The more open you are about it, the more adapting that they’re going to be to it. Especially if they’re brand new to the technology. It does become part of your culture within your organization and you’ll find the improvement and the honesty that you share with them is, is going to, there’s a part of that question mark that you just threw out there. Believe it or not that has an effect on building morale. You make a better work environment for everybody because things are running smoother and then everybody’s a little bit happier when they come to work. So just, just be open and honest and make sure you make it very clear what your policies are in relationship to the technology.

I want to add a number 10 to that list, which is hiring better drivers right from the start. I’m not going to say how or why that happens but we’ll add it to the document and make it available for download and then you can go read about how do you hire a better driver before they’ve even gotten into your truck. That’s it for this particular video. If you liked the video please hit the like button down below, subscribe… we’re doing more of these videos to help you basically run your business a little bit better, give you some ideas, some practical ideas on you know things that are going to help you across your business, not just your fleet. But you know whether it be accounting, or marketing, or customer service, things like that we’re just bringing our experience in working with so many different companies across the country back to you so you can tweak and use what little bits of information you find important to you, and grow your business. We want to see your business grow. When you’re healthy we’re healthy. We appreciate your business and we look forward to seeing you on the next video. Have a great day!

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Using Zones to Automate Everyday Tasks

Zones + Basic GPS System Data – Location, Date, & Time

Our goal is to assist our readers with using GPS tracking system data, specifically zones and geofences, for routine operations, consequently achieving a higher return on investment. This new series is contributed by Darryl Arnold, our Director of Product Development.

Business owners are generally aware of GPS tracking device’s ability to report a location as well as the date and time. Almost every vehicle tracking system provides much more than just location data. Our focus is on using just the GPS location, time, and date provided by the GPS tracking devices to automate some of your standard business tasks y using zones or geofences.

Transcript of Eron & Darryl Discuss Using Zones
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Hi everybody, Eron and Darryl with Fleetistics and today we’re going to be talking about zones and geofences and whatever you want to call them, but the little polygons to go around specific areas of interest to you, and we’re going to be talking about not just you know the concept of a zone, but really what are the practical applications of zones as they relate to business and business operations. So Darryl, let’s start by simply defining what a zone or a geofence is.

A zone is a mechanism that a gps system uses to define a location on the map. Everything from a building, you can put a zone around an entire state, you can put it around a county, a municipal region, but basically what you’re doing is using a zone to to tell the gps system that this is a region or a place that that you need information about.

And what would be an example of each one of those things? So you talk about a state level county level and a building or a piece of property.

Generally when you’re talking about a building most customers the first thing that they do for zones is to create a zone around their building or the location of where their vehicles are. When you have that zone you can use it to receive notifications or keep track of the times that a vehicle leaves or a time that a vehicle returns. It also allows you to keep track of the amount of time that a vehicle spends at an office when you’re talking about a zone around a town or or a county the primary use for that is to make sure that a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles remain inside of an area – an operating area. For example if you have vehicles that that are responsible for you know servicing a specific territory, a zone allows you to make sure that that vehicle is remaining in that territory. When you’re talking about states the same thing applies as a town or a county you know an operating area, but what it also does is allow you to keep track of the amount of time that’s being spent in the state which can also assist with with IFTA and and some of the the fuel tax regulation.

Certainly the taxes for assets utilized in one state may be very different than taxes for utilization in a different state so knowing the number of miles that you drive in each state is certainly important to that. Two things to come to mind from customers that I can think of one is was a local county here in Florida that basically provided emergency services right and when they went outside the county they wanted to track when they were outside the county or their jurisdiction so they could bill whoever they were going to service based on the amount of time I guess and resources you know that were utilized outside of their jurisdiction so it was important to know when the fire trucks left their area and where they were going to and how long they were at the fire location or you know whatever the emergency location was. So that was a really good example and the other one that comes to mind is we have a nationwide customer that has over 300 locations and somehow they manage to ship vehicles between branches you know they do like horse trading of vehicles so corporate has a hard time keeping track of who’s got what vehicles and then when it comes to dispatching and knowing you know perhaps what resources are on different vehicles it makes that harder because they’re not returning to the expected location so by putting a zone around each branch and then having that vehicle uh set up to notify if it if it doesn’t return to that branch it allows more insight and oversight over where these vehicles are if they’re not where corporate thinks they are. So just two applications there for zones. Obviously we’ve got lots of others with customers and things like that. With zones how many or what shapes can zones be?

It all depends on the gps system you’re working with but today most gps systems allow for essentially an unlimited number of points. I know that our primary system allows for literally an unlimited number of points the other two systems state that they do but in reality you know once you get over a certain level you know it’s questionable on the performance. Something else I’d like to say from an application that we were talking about from you know putting a zone around a building. You know many of our customers actually do their billing based on the amount of time that a vehicle spends on site and you know it if you can put a zone around each one of your customers, the system can provide a report at the end of the day or at the end of the week of the actual start time you know when the vehicle entered the zone or arrived at the location, how much time it’s spending inside that zone, and also lets you know when it leaves. You know so that this is actual real-time information that that a driver doesn’t have to spend their their resources or time keeping track of and then reporting to the accounting department. The information goes directly to accounting and you can’t get more accurate in keeping track of time on site than a gps system.

Yeah one of the very applicable examples of that would be landscape management. You’re talking about the large commercial companies that take care of entire subdivisions and when you go into that situation you’re billing you’re pricing the job based on how many hours, man hours you think it’s going to take to be able to manage that property and care for that property over the course of a year. Well, if you put a zone around that entire property and every three months you’re evaluating the number of man hours actually spent inside maintaining that property you can get a very accurate picture of what it actually takes to do that job. And you may have in your contract where you can you can increase billing or you decrease billing based on the actual number of man hours required to maintain an area, so it’s going to give you the ability to not get burned by underselling a job and it’s going to help the customer by not getting oversold when it takes far fewer hours to to do a job and that over time builds a database of accurate information for you to do a better job actually pricing communities and certain types of jobs based on the the footprint and the type of work that’s going on inside that zone.

Definitely, I mean we could go on all day about different applications in business for using zones but I’d like to throw out one more. We had a customer that was a security company and they were contracted by apartment buildings, condo associations to do drive-throughs you know at certain times of the day or do drive-throughs at varied times of the day to you know for just basically associated with the operations of the the complex, and they were continually having complaints from the you know the condo associations and the apartment building managers that the person wasn’t showing up or they weren’t on there on site long enough or they didn’t do… what we ended up doing was was putting a zone around the entire complex the entire property and at the end of the day the system actually sent an email to the the customer that outlined what time the the vehicle arrived, where the vehicle actually drove, with the you know the track you know through the gps system and when they exited. So it it provided accountability to the customer for the company without actually having to take any time, effort, or energy to you know to invest payroll into it or staff time or anything like that.

When do zones not work well? I can think of two scenarios but when do zones kind of run into trouble you know and they start to lose their accuracy or or you know functionality?

You got me on that one we got out of this I don’t know I can’t think of a situation that his own doesn’t work.

Yeah, I got started in the pest control business so a good example is typically in residential service industries where you may have multiple customers on the same block, right, and in the pest control business you might have customers that are right next door or across the street and what happens is the technician shows up and he parks in front of one house and he just walks to the others, right? So if you’re trying to track the uh the interaction and time spent with each one of those customers, if the vehicle is parked in front of one you’re not going to know what’s going on in the others because he’s not moving the vehicle into that particular zone. So you know the zones have to be based on where the vehicle is actually parking so if you have a large industrial complex and the vehicle is parking in the back but you missed you know you didn’t you didn’t include that in the zone that’s a problem. In residential areas if the vehicle parks in in front of customer A but services A, B, C, and D by foot, you’re not going to know the time spent A,B,C, and D. So you may have to draw a zone around all four of those customers to kind of associate the general time spent servicing all of them. So that was that was one example. The other example is kind of similar to that you know you get different businesses on different street corners and is it gas station A or gas station B? You know that type of thing zones can go down to you know we look at the accuracy of gps today I mean really you can go down to like a couple parking spaces and know where the vehicle is parking so when doing zones it’s important to be very accurate based on vehicle parking. When it comes to dealing with large numbers of zones you know talk about the process of importing zones so if you’re migrating or you have a customer database where you have addresses or more importantly latitude longitude what are some of the things that go into importing zones? What are some of the options available when importing zones, and how does that really help with the efficiency you know when we think about you know importing over 100 000 zones for one customer? You know obviously that’s a huge time saver being able to do that.

Definitely the you know the the act of importing a zone is is really creating zones based on information within a spreadsheet. It can be done based on an address a lat longitude latitude coordinates, and the the import zones are really not detailed in the sense they’re not drawn. So you know they don’t have a lot of points. They’re generally either a square or a circle, and you know that works when you’re dealing with the type of zones that you want to work with for you know for an import. An application like the the apartment building or the condo association it’s not going to work for that you really want to draw each zone individually because of the shape of the properties and wanting to keep specific track of that, but when you’re doing an import basically just throw it in in an excel spreadsheet. You just need the location. The location can either be a street address it can be the lat/long. Then you specify the shape of the zone whether it’s a square or a circle and then specify the radius that you want it to be. You always want to make sure that the zone is big enough. We’ve had situations where customers did not get the information they were looking for because the zone didn’t extend out into the road and the vehicle was parking in the road and the zone was small enough that it covered the building. The the vehicle never quite made it into the building or into the building parking lot. So you can list there another alternative for creating that type of file is to do an export from your accounting program. With your account with your customer list from an accounting program you can get a list of you know the customer name which you can use as the name of the zone. Then the the actual address, the city, the state and export it as a csv. Then you can edit the format of that csv in excel and then do your import from there. There’s a lot of different ways that that you can go about creating the zones from an automated perspective, but the most common is to get your customer list out of either a crm, you know a contact manager, or an accounting system.

Yeah and I think we have to manage people’s expectations with zones. You are not going to correctly zone 100 % of your customers, right? That’s highly, highly unlikely to happen unless you have very unique customer situations where the properties are spread out, like they’re not next to each other at all, and maybe they’re of such a size that if you create a 1000 meter zone that you know that you’re always going to be covering that entire customer location without any overlap, and the vehicles are always going to park inside that zone. Mostly, most of the customers we work with are going to maybe get 70 to 80 percent of the zones correctly imported and then you’re just going to have to manually adjust to get the other ones to you know be exactly where you want them to be. It’s important to understand that when you work with zones that the, the center point of the nearest zone is going to be what the vehicle data is associated with. So if you have two zones that overlap and the vehicle is parking in that overlap area it’s going to look at the two center points of the zones that were imported or created and say which one am I closer to and it’s going to then associate data with that particular zone. So that’s where you go in and you manually adjust those zones to spread them out or change the shape and then the accuracy of your information continues to climb. The other thing that I try to tell people is when you implement tracking technology and telematics it becomes part of your business process, right? When you onboard a new customer, are you also putting them into the gps system, creating their customer zone, and establishing whatever parameters you want as far as time and service and exceptions to be reported? And if you do that as part of like a checklist of every new customer then it becomes an easy process to maintain. If you try to do it once every six months it’s a bigger project every six months and you’re missing data along the way, so you know in Darryl’s articles, which this is a part of that series, you know how do you get this information into your business process and this is one of the ways by making it part of the customer onboarding experience and process internally. All right, what else do we need to know about zones Darryl?

Well there’s two really two types of zones and and it’s not a technical differentiation, it’s more a business use differentiation. When you’re dealing with a zone like Eron was talking about, a new customer coming on board and it’s a zone that you’re going to want in the system from here to eternity. You’re going to use it every day. You’re never going to edit it. You need to know exactly where you know the property lines are and things like that, that’s one appli… or one type of zone. Another type of zone is one that you have a list of places that your driver is going to go for the day. At the end of the day you’re never going to need these zones again, okay? You have the ability on many gps systems to specify a an expiration. So when you’ve got the temporary zone set up for situations where you know you you have a stop for that customer for today, you’re never going to hear from that customer again or that it’s going to be two or three years from now, you’re not going to want to store all of those zones at all times because you know first of all it just makes managing the zones for your staff a little bit more challenging because there’s so many in there, but you can set up an expiration time so that after a certain amount of time or after a certain time period in the day the zone deletes itself. When you’re dealing with those temporary zones they just don’t have to be as exact so just putting a circle over a location or a square over location will work pretty well, but when you’re working with with situations that that you’re going to be using the zone day in and day out you’re going to want to spend a little bit more time as Eron mentioned, and make sure that the property lines are covered, look at each zone individually, make sure that you know if they’re parking on the street is the street included in that? You know the there are two you know if you’re using a temporary zone that’s one approach if you’re using permanent zone as another approach.

A temporary zone example would be a like a cable installer right. They’re coming to hook up your internet and they’re only going to be there that one time. They’re probably not going to see you for five years unless a new owner buys your house, right? The service window’s tomorrow or two days from now so you might expire the zone in five days in case you’ve got to do any return service trips something like that, so you know that’s that’s the kind of scenario for expiring those zones. And before I forget, everybody, if you liked the video please hit the like button and don’t forget to subscribe and share with your friends, share on social media. We appreciate it. We’re trying to give you some more practical application content instead of just the more salesy or you know a specific technical how do I you know use a system type function in information. So this is more how do I apply the information to the business that I have going on every day, which should be more helpful in finding your return on investment. So that’s pretty much it for zones and geofences whatever you want to call them. You know we we appreciate your time and attention and look forward to seeing you on the next video. Have a great day and we’ll see you again.

Tracking for Payroll & Billing – the Low Hanging Fruit

Many businesses that utilize vehicles in their daily operations also need to keep track of start and stop times. Tracking of start and end of the business day for payroll purposes is just one of the easy ways to capture return on investment. Another is to facilitate billing on a time spent at a location, such as at a jobsite. GPS tracking devices and their reporting systems already collect this information. The GPS system data is accessible to users by querying the online data. Delivery of automatically scheduled reports is normally a pretty quick setup. There are also mobile apps that can be used for the driver to input start and stop times associated with a location if zones or geofences are not utilized.

Using Geo Zones to Automate Payroll Hours Reporting

By and large, GPS tracking systems for vehicles include the ability to utilize zones. There are many names used by system providers for zones. Geofences, geozones, landmarks, and points of interest are common terms. They all provide the same ability to define a location on a map that reporting is then based upon. For businesses that use vehicle start and stop time for payroll, just create a zone around the daily point of departure. In most cases, it will be your office or the employee’s home. Create another zone around the daily endpoint. Many times, the endpoint is the same as the starting point. In those cases, the same zone can be used.

Once the zones or geofences are created, a report can be scheduled. The GPS system will periodically deliver a report that includes the entry and/or exit dates and times of each vehicle from the designated zones. This provides the ability to proactively deliver the start and end times of each vehicle to human resource or billing departments automatically on the schedule needed.

Geo Zones - Geofences

Defining Job Locations

Utilizing a GPS system’s zone or geofence feature, job locations can also be defined within the system. Additionally, you may want to create locations in the system for vendors like parts suppliers and fueling locations. If your system allows for color-coding or classifying types of zones, this can be very helpful. Once the locations are virtually defined, the majority of GPS systems provide the ability to specify tracking or reporting of a vehicle’s entry, exit, time inside, or time outside of a zone. The system can then be set up to report the information to billing departments.

Enter and exit times provide the stop/start points for hourly billing. Additionally, using the vendor zones helps to identify the time outside of a job or customer zone as trips for fuel, supplies, lunch breaks, or something that takes time away from the job/project. It becomes much easier to identify what is billable time and what is not. This information can also be kept and used in the future to estimate a similar job.

Other Zone Attributes

While most GPS systems provide some method for automatically creating zones through the import of an external file such as an Excel spreadsheet, some have more zone management options than others. For instance, the Geotab system provides options for managing these auto-created zones such as expiration and zone type groupings. The Geotab expiration option automatically deletes a zone once the specified date arrives. This assists in managing zones that aren’t used on a regular basis or are associated with a defined time window for a project. If no expiration date is selected, once a zone is created, it can be used indefinitely for recurring jobs for regular customers.

Zone Creation

3 Step Plan for Automating Use of Zones in Your GPS System

First, create the zones. Second, passively report arrivals, departures, time inside, and time outside of zones. Finally, proactively deliver a report to accounting or billing personnel. This eliminates the time-consuming tasks required for manually keeping track of payroll hours and time spent on job sites. Compiling the information into an automated report format for your accounting or billing department requires quite literally no action on the part of field personnel or accounting/billing personnel, saving both time and money.

Vehicle & Asset Telematics

Electronic Forms

Mobile Viewing

Routing

Vehicle & Asset Telematics

Electronic Forms

Mobile Viewing

Routing