Using fleet data to better manage your contracting business
May 10, 2018 — Keeping customers happy is always top of mind, because word-of-mouth, and online referrals and ratings are a key part of growing your business. Not only do you have to give 110% on every job, it means your employees do as well.
With all of the things you think about daily to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine, data might not be the first thing on your mind... but it should be. Historically, data has been thought of much like a messy office: mounds of paper-work containing mileage logs, service receipts, gas receipts, timecards and other scraps, and where you can never find exactly what you’re looking for.
But data has come a long way, and companies of all types are now using it to better manage their business by automating many of the tasks that were previously handled manually.
Besides managing the details of your business, you also have to manage something else: your company vehicles and the drivers who use them. Not only do you have to ensure your vehicles are well-maintained, but also that your employees are using them properly.
Contractors are turning to the data gathered from GPS-based fleet management systems to help them cut costs, streamline reporting, improve productivity and grow their businesses. Many businesses find they can easily accommodate one or more new jobs in a day because of the time efficiencies that fleet management solutions can provide.
Just think about what even one extra job a day—or even two or three a week—could mean for your growing business.
Fleet management solutions can capture and analyze just the data you need to ensure your operations run smoothly, providing answers to the most pressing information you need regarding your vehicles and drivers in real time (or over a period of time), tracking dozens of key metrics such as driver behaviour, vehicle maintenance records and timelines, fuel spend, time spent on jobs, miles travelled for each job, and so on.
You add up your fuel receipts for the month, and find you’ve spent $100 more on fuel than the previous month. Why? Gas prices have remained about the same, so that’s not the culprit. There weren’t that many new jobs, so where’s the problem?
When you integrate fuel cards with a robust fleet management system, you can monitor and analyze fuel expenditures.The data will help you improve vehicle routing, account for all fuel purchases and improve buying behaviour. You can answer questions such as:
• How much fuel have I used this month, and how does that compare to previous months?
• Is one of my vehicles driving more miles on average than the others? Why?
• In terms of fuel efficiency, is one vehicle performing worse (maybe better) than others?
A few of your vehicles show more wear and tear than the others, and require more frequent maintenance. GPS-based fleet management solutions provide the tools you need to capture data like maintenance timelines, and can also provide a snapshot of driver behaviour (e.g. hard braking and cornering) that could be contributing to the condition. A good fleet management solution will allow you to review maintenance history and understand which vehicles are due for which services, check mileage logs and fuel usage, and pinpoint issues more quickly.
You’re getting complaints that workers are often arriving later than the service window you promised to clients. Fleet management allow you to track vehicle routes, stops and starts, and other metrics that may impact arrival and departure times. The solution can help you see the routes your employees are taking during their day, and make adjustments—e.g. route them around traffic accidents, street closures—in real time to get them to their destinations more quickly.You can even change the sequence of jobs, and add new ones, from your desktop or mobile device.
A driver has been cited for speeding using your company vehicle. Bad driving habits (e.g. speeding, hard braking) can cost your company hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repair bills and wasted fuel. It also puts your vehicles and equipment in danger. GPS-based fleet management solutions can provide valuable data on bad driving behaviours, giving you a chance to correct them before they escalate.
Electrical contracting companies like yours can use data delivered by fleet management systems to simplify operations, cut expenditures on maintenance and fuel, and grow their business.
Pankaj Sharma is the vice-president of marketing for NexTraq (nextraq.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Michelin North America providing GPS fleet management solutions.
This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Electrical Business Magazine.
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