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Choosing a GPS Fleet Tracking System

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

The right software will ensure you can keep detailed tabs on your vehicles and team.

  • Being the manager of fleet drivers comes with a host of responsibilities, including being aware of the exact location of drivers and their loads at all times and taking the steps to keep costs under control. GPS fleet tracking services can help with these issues and much more.
  • Benefits of using GPS fleet tracking include the abilities to identify exact locations of your drivers and their loads, save on fuel and insurance costs, and determine when to schedule maintenance.
  • There are several things to consider in choosing the best GPS fleet tracking system for your needs, such as the cost, notifications and ease of use.

Benefits of GPS fleet tracking

As the manager of fleet drivers, one of your main priorities is keeping your drivers safe as well as reducing overhead and improving your customer satisfaction. Using a real-time GPS fleet tracking system addresses these concerns and has a range of other benefits, including these:

  • It lets you monitor the locations and performance of your fleet. GPS fleet tracking systems provide information such as fuel usage, engine idling, driver behavior and the exact location of the driver.
  • It decreases insurance costs. Many insurance providers offer discounts or reduced pricing for fleet companies that have GPS tracking devices installed on their fleet.
  • It saves on fuel. GPS tracking systems provide better routes, improved driver behavior, less idling and reduced stops, all of which can decrease fuel use.
  • It reduces downtime and maintenance costs. GPS tracking software can typically be set up to send alerts when routine maintenance is due. Text alerts or emails can let you know when it's time for routine maintenance, oil changes and tire rotations, which may reduce downtime.
  • It improves customer satisfaction. GPS tracking systems allow you to identify the exact location of your driver, so dispatchers can let customers know when the driver will arrive, if they are running behind and their exact route.
  • It helps you locate assets. There is a tremendous risk of theft and misuse involved in the transportation of goods. GPS tracking systems show you where your equipment, company vehicles and loads are at all times.

If you run a trucking, freight, construction, delivery or any other logistics business, it's important to know where your transportation vehicles and materials are – and if they'll make it to their destinations on time. GPS fleet tracking systems use GPS hardware installed in a vehicle to track locations, generate vehicle diagnostics and monitor driving behaviors. Real-time data is sent from the vehicle to your software via satellite, so you always have the most current data.

To help you choose the right one for your business, here are 10 things to consider in a GPS fleet tracking system.

1. Cost and contracts

GPS fleet tracking costs vary. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and costs largely depend on the size of your fleet and the features you need. The majority of vendors charge on a month-to-month basis. You'll find prices from around $20 to $100 per month or more. Some providers also offer free hardware, while others charge on a per-user basis. Other payment options include annual subscriptions and pay-as-you-go plans. Some services require annual or multiyear contracts, but many don't require any long-term commitments. 

 

Editor's note: Looking for the right GPS fleet tracking system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

2. Notifications

You can't stare at your GPS fleet tracking software 24/7. The best GPS fleet tracking services do all the monitoring for you, sending you notifications by text or email when something needs your attention. You can set which alerts you want to receive, such as when a vehicle departs or arrives, if a driver is off route or crosses geofences you've set, and if the hardware detects unsafe driving behaviors.

3. Customizable dashboard

GPS fleet tracking systems monitor a wide variety of data, which can clutter your dashboard. Choose a system that only has the most important information on your dashboard so you see key metrics right when you log in, such as current locations, action items and emergencies. Some providers also allow you to select which types of data to present and how detailed you want them to be. This way, you can cater the software to your specific needs.

4. Ease of use

Because GPS fleet tracking systems monitor all types of vehicles and driving data in real time, the software can get complex. If you don't have time to get through the learning curve or train your staff, find a provider with a simple dashboard that doesn't require any tech skills to navigate. Most vendors offer free demos, so you can have a sales rep walk you through it in person or try the software online before you buy.

5. Vehicle diagnostics

GPS fleet tracking software should monitor more than just vehicle locations. For you to get the most out of your investment, it should also track vehicle diagnostics. This includes fuel management, engine diagnostics, repairs, maintenance schedules, start and stop times, and other items to maximize efficiency.

6. Driving behavior tracking

Similarly, GPS fleet tracking systems should monitor driver behaviors to keep them and other drivers safe on the road. It should track route histories, such as when a driver goes off route, is off schedule, has excessive idling times or makes too many stops. It should also record hard turns, sudden stops and other incidents. Some systems allow you to integrate driver IDs with vehicles to streamline work hours and expenses.

7. Signal and uptime

Since GPS data is sent by satellite, choose a provider that has a reliable signal and uptime. You may be able to find this information on vendors' websites, but you may also want to ask for detailed reports of any downtimes and technical outages.

8. Mobile access

If you're frequently away from your desk, a GPS fleet tracking mobile app is a great option. This gives you access to all of your GPS data right on your iOS or Android device. Many also let you complete certain tasks, such as contact drivers and send directions. However, not all providers offer a mobile app. If your preferred vendor doesn't have an app and mobile access is important to you, check that the provider at least has a mobile-friendly, web-based version of the software.

9. Third-party integration and automation

Make your life easier by finding a GPS fleet tracking system that integrates with business solutions you already use. For instance, some software can automatically sync with your accounting, payroll, and time and attendance software to log driving hours, mileage and expenses. This can help you and your drivers save tons of time from having to manually recall and input data.

10. Customer support

Not all GPS fleet tracking system providers offer live customer support. Make sure someone is always there when you need them by choosing a company that offers phone support. Other resources to look for include live chat, email or help desk support, tutorials, documentation, and how-to videos. Note that many vendors charge extra for priority support.

Image Credit: Luciano Conte / Shutterstock
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