While GPS fleet tracking may seem like more of a necessity for larger fleets that include hundreds or even thousands of vehicles, the benefits of this fleet management tool can be equally impactful to smaller businesses as well. If you’re a small business owner with a smaller fleet that includes anywhere from two to 30 vehicles, a GPS tracking system—particularly one that provides real-time location information—can be a valuable asset to your fleet managers and drivers.
Read on to learn the challenges facing smaller fleets and six important ways smaller businesses can use real-time GPS tracking, and other real-time data, to run a smarter fleet.
Small fleets experience similar challenges to larger ones
If you own a smaller business or run a small fleet, you likely have fewer vehicles to keep an eye on. But that doesn’t mean managing your fleet is any less challenging or time-consuming. In fact, according to research from fleet fuel card carrier Comdata, smaller fleets that include 100 or fewer vehicles experience many of the same issues that larger fleets do. Topping the list of challenges are:
Earning enough revenue per mile: Close to a third of survey respondents found this to be their number one challenge. Maintaining vehicles and drivers can be expensive and it can be difficult for fleets—both small and large—to make sure they’re getting a return on their investments.
Retaining drivers: Nearly a quarter of surveyed small fleets said decreasing driver turnover was a challenge their fleet faced. This is a notable challenge larger fleets struggle with as well. Low turnover is expected to last at least through the end of the year as the economy rebuilds. While it may be too early to quantify the industrywide trend, individual transportation business leaders say the difference in retention is significant.
Keeping up with changing regulations, like Hours of Service: 20% of those surveyed found that staying abreast of government regulations is a leading day-to-day challenge. This means that even though the ELD mandate is in full-effect, it can still be tricky to ensure your fleet is staying compliant.
While these challenges are no easy feat, they can be simplified with the adoption of a telematics solution. GPS fleet tracking software can be a helpful tool, for large and small fleets alike, to better understand their operations and ultimately alleviate some of the stressors these challenges present.
6 Ways GPS fleet tracking can benefit your small fleet
GPS tracking devices can be a helpful tool, no matter the size of your fleet. But if you’re still unsure whether a fleet management system that includes GPS tracking is right for your fleet, here are six ways this GPS technology can help streamline your operations and ease some of the challenges of your day-to-day:
1. Real-time location tracking
Fleet tracking software gives fleets real-time visibility into the location of an asset via GPS tracking technology, making it easy to identify where your vehicles are at any given time. Plus, with the ability to create customizable geofences—or virtual borders around a designated area—your fleet can rest assured that your vehicles are exactly where they’re supposed to be or get notified with Geofence Alerts if they’re not. This can be particularly helpful in the case of theft or unauthorized use, something that can be difficult to recover from especially for a smaller fleet that might not have as many replacement or back-up vehicles.
2. Communicate accurate ETAs with customers
On top of providing you with the real time location of your vehicles, real-time GPS tracking is critical for accurate ETAs. These can be useful to share with customers, especially for smaller businesses that are just starting to grow out their customer base. Instead of calling back-and-forth between your drivers and your customers, consider a telematics solution that lets you share GPS location updates directly with your customers—like Samsara Live Sharing Links. With these links, your customers can track your vehicles on their smartphones in real time so they know exactly when to expect a delivery.
3. Decrease fuel costs
The average long-haul truck idles anywhere from six to eight hours a day, for as many as 300 days a year. That can add up to thousands of hours of fuel wasted annually. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, fleets can save over $6,000 a year per vehicle by reducing idling time. These savings can quickly add up, whether you’re overseeing thousands of vehicles or just a couple dozen.
To help your fleet meet business or government requirements for idle time, consider a telematics solution that can provide insights into your vehicles’ fuel and energy use. Samsara offers fuel efficiency tools such as Fuel Usage Reports and Idling Alerts that can help you better understand fuel usage trends across your fleet. For example, Samsara customer City of Fort Lauderdale was able to reduce idling by 20% by using these reports to better understand fuel usage across their fleet.
4. Avoid Hours of Service violations
While electronically tracking Hours of Service (HOS) is now mandated for some businesses by the Department of Transportation’s FMCSA, it’s important to find an ELD solution that includes real-time tracking capabilities. With a solution like Samsara’s real-time HOS tracking, you can know how long drivers have been on the road, the time until their next rest break, and how many hours are left in their driving period. Drivers receive reminders through their smartphones of when to take breaks and pull off the road, which makes it easy for them to avoid violations. Your dispatchers also receive alerts when drivers are approaching their breaks and the end of their shifts. Combined with real-time GPS data, dispatchers can use this real-time HOS tracking to make decisions on how to route drivers to avoid violations.
5. Optimized routes
GPS vehicle trackers allow you to identify the location of a driver so you can easily determine which driver is best suited to send to a job site. This can help you make sure you’re not sending a driver who’s located furthest away to complete a job, which can help you decrease your spend per mile. Some GPS tracking solutions, like Samsara, provide route optimization tools to help you plan more efficient routes and identify opportunities to further streamline a route in the future once it’s completed. Samsara also provides tools for time-sensitive dispatching, all in one place. Dispatch managers can use Samsara to dispatch within the Samsara dashboard, track the routes drivers take, and evaluate performance trends to optimize future routes.
6. Increase driver safety
In addition to real-time GPS tracking, some telematics devices, like the Samsara Vehicle Gateway, have the ability to collect other real-time data, like harsh driving events. With a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, the Vehicle Gateway can help you improve fleet safety by tracking sudden braking, acceleration, and sharp turns. You can even set up mobile device alerts to be notified via email or text message when a harsh event is detected.
Your fleet can improve driver safety even more by pairing your telematics device with an AI dash cam that includes real-time video retrieval. Samsara AI Dash Cams automatically alert and retrieve video when drivers experience a harsh event, like sudden braking or a sharp turn. By continuously and proactively coaching drivers on these driving behaviors, you can improve unsafe driver behaviors and decrease the likelihood of a collision occurring. This can help not only improve the safety of your fleet, but increase driver performance as well.
What is the best GPS vehicle tracking system for your small business?
A GPS fleet tracking solution could be valuable to your fleet if your business relies on providing products and services to its customers, regardless of the number of vehicles in your fleet. But which system is right for you? When evaluating a system, it’s important to consider:
Quality of location data: Would your asset inventory benefit from real-time equipment tracking or is a single location ping every five to ten minutes sufficient? Additionally, would it be helpful to have the option to switch between real-time or interval alerts?
Ease of use: How straightforward is the asset tracking dashboard, and will it require a heavy-lift to onboard and train employees to use it?
Customer support: What level of customer service will your team require? Is it important for your team to have access to a team via a mobile device, mobile app, or digital help desk?
Ease of install: How seamless will the install process be for your fleet? Will it require hiring additional people or new resources?
Samsara offers customers real-time visibility into fleet operations, unlike many GPS fleet tracking services that provide breadcrumb-style trails with location updates that refresh every several minutes. With live-to-the-second tracking, fleet managers have the real-time information they need in order to know exactly where their vehicles are at any given time. This provides fleet managers visibility into their operations and gives their customers the confidence of knowing exactly where their delivery is.
Beyond added visibility into vehicle operations, Samsara provides fleet management solutions that enable fleets to complete more jobs in less time. Samsara's data-rich reports help improve operational efficiency, while dispatch tools, real-time location data, and route analytics help operators boost performance. Customizable alerts and route analytic tools also help fleet managers improve driver productivity and fuel efficiency.
Samsara's fleet management software provides a real-time GPS tracking solution for your entire fleet, no matter how many vehicles your business includes. Plus, the Samsara Driver App, a mobile app available on iPhone and Android, helps keep you connected with your drivers. To learn more about how Samsara can help you with GPS tracking and beyond, reach out today for a free demo or free trial today.