Running a commercial fleet can be a significant expense for an SME, but for some, it represents a necessary element of their business. If this is the case for your SME, it may be worth considering how vehicle tracking software could improve safety, efficiency and service. Here are four ways that vehicle tracking could benefit your SME:
1. Improve driver safety
A business running a commercial fleet must be particularly aware of the safety of its drivers, especially if they are driving for long periods of time. Telematics systems can provide a viable solution to this, as they allow fleet managers to accurately record the hours that drivers have spent behind the wheel and the distances they have covered.
It's also worth noting that vehicle tracking can have a more significant impact on safety through systems such as in-cab coaching. Small dashboard-mounted systems can deliver instant feedback to drivers on their behaviour while driving. The feedback, which can be both audio and visual, alerts the driver of any dangerous driving such as harsh acceleration and breaking or speeding.
It is important to clearly explain the reasoning behind installing driver tracking systems to your business’ commercial drivers. Make it clear that these systems are not being installed as a punishment or a way to track their performance more closely, but to improve the safety and efficiency of the company.
2. Reduce fuel costs
One of the most significant expenses for SMEs running a commercial fleet can be the cost of fuel. A reduction in speeding through in-cab coaching systems can dramatically improve fuel efficiency and improve fuel costs.
Vehicle tracking and the feedback drivers receive from in-cab devices can dramatically reduce speeding - a 2018 study found that a vehicle without in-cab coaching recorded approximately 5 speeding events per 100 miles in comparison to vehicles which had the system installed, which recorded only 2.35 events per 100 miles. This represented a 53% reduction in speeding events through in-cab coaching.
Driver behaviour can also have an impact on fuel usage, and as such in-cab feedback can improve vehicle efficiency by improving driver behaviour. The study also showed that, in both small and large vans, fuel efficiency was better when drivers were receiving feedback. There was a 5% fuel saving for large vans and 6% for small vans. In addition, vehicle tracking will alert drivers who leave their engine idling for significant periods. Idling is another contributor to fuel wastage, so alerting a driver who is idling can also help to improve overall fuel costs.
3. Improve customer service
Regardless of the industry your business operates in, providing excellent service to customers should be of paramount importance. Positive reviews from customers can have a significant impact on the success of your SME.
One aspect of customer service which can be directly related to customer satisfaction is the delivery of goods or services. Specifically, the accuracy with which you predict they will be with the customer. Vehicle tracking allows businesses to see live GPS locations of vehicles within their fleet and therefore the customer can be given highly accurate arrival times.
Moreover, being able to locate the closest vehicle to a job in an emergency call out could be vitally important to the overall service your business is able to provide. Vehicle tracking allows fleet managers to do this.
4. Sustainability plans
Public perception of your SME, such as arrival times, can play a role in the success of your overall business. The same is true of how the public perceives the sustainability and environmental impact of your business. Vehicle tracking allows businesses to collect the relevant data regarding the efficiency of vehicles across a commercial fleet. Once this data has been collected sustainability targets can be made and plans put in place to achieve them.
It is, however, important to keep in mind the age of vehicles along with the tasks each vehicle performs as this can have an impact on the targets set. Furthermore, sustainability plans are designed to show long-term improvements rather than short term success, so don’t get caught up in seeing immediate significant improvements. To make these future goals achievable, it’s often advisable to include small milestones within the sustainability plan relating to specific areas. Once all these areas have been targeted the overall improvements can be significant.
Overall, vehicle tracking can impact a number of critical areas within an SME and has shown to bring about changes that have both improved business efficiency and increased public safety. When running an SME with a commercial fleet, it can often be tempting to go for a new vehicle which seems more efficient than your current models, if money becomes available to invest. Vehicle tracking, however, provides an alternative which can improve the efficiency and productivity of your current fleet without the substantial cost attached.