This guide from telematics specialist Trakm8 aims to help you decide if vehicle tracking is right for your business – either as a user, or as a vendor.
Vehicle tracking is already popular with national and regional fleets of commercial vehicles. But could telematics also benefit your business?
Thanks to advances in the technology, there are now affordable options designed specifically for smaller companies. For independent workshops, this also opens up opportunities as a potential reseller.
Vehicle tracking solutions for businesses come in all shapes and sizes, right down to owner-drivers. But what should you look for when selecting a supplier? Here are some of the key points to consider:
Pricing and payment
Vehicle tracking should increase productivity and safety, while also cutting costs. Look for a provider that offers the best combination of savings for your business.
Vehicle tracking smartphone apps start from a few pounds per month, but they have very limited functionality. The next step up is a self-install tracking unit like Trakm8 Prime. Beyond that are more connected systems that are typically hardwired into your vehicles. These provide more comprehensive analysis and insight for fleets, and are ideal for businesses with 50 or more vehicles.
Some tracking providers allow you to order and pay online; others insist first on a phone call or a visit from a sales rep. Payment plans vary from a lump sum to monthly or quarterly direct debits. Always seek a discount for paying up front; or for a contract longer than the standard 12 months.
If you choose hard-wired devices, be aware they will require vehicle down-time for installation and factor in this cost. Most providers will offer free installation – however, you might be liable for charges when they uninstall the device at the end of your contract. Self-install systems such as Trakm8 Prime simply plug into the vehicle’s OBD port.
This eliminates down-time for installation; and there are no removal charges at the end of your contract. Another benefit to self-install units is that you can transfer them between vehicles, such as when you refresh your fleet.
Whether it is hardwired or plug-n-play, a high quality tracking device is often connected to the vehicle’s CAN Bus system. This means that it can identify and record events which impact on MPG, such as speeding, harsh acceleration, heavy braking, sharp cornering, and engine idling. During every journey, the device logs these events to create a unique score for each driver. The higher the score, the more fuel-efficient the driver has been.
This type of ‘driver behaviour’ technology can boost fuel economy by up to 15% – and also reduces the risk of being involved in a road traffic incident. Some insurance brokers are now offering a discount on your premium if all your vehicles are fitted with driver behaviour technology. Not all vehicle tracking solutions provide performance monitoring or connect to the CAN Bus, so check in advance.
Most vehicle tracking solutions include downloadable time sheets. Also look for useful features such as geo-fencing and business/private mileage management. Geo-fencing creates digital boundaries around a real-world geographic location – for example alerting you whenever your vehicles arrive at, and depart from, a customer’s site.
Business/private mileage management saves you time when it comes to P11D returns. With HRMC continuing to crack down on non-payment of taxes for personal use of company vehicles, it’s also hard evidence that can protect you from fines.
The best providers will be able to offer you complementary solutions, such as dash cams to protect your business from fraudulent insurance claims. Fleets should look at combining their telematics with route optimisation, which enables much faster and more efficient transport planning. It also helps provide accurate ETAs to further improve customer service, increases vehicle utilisation to improve margins, and cuts total fleet mileage, saving you money.
Other interlinked technologies include electronic proof of delivery (ePOD). This is highly affordable to implement and integrates with back office software to provide a paper-free delivery solution. Buying all of these products from a single supplier helps to keep things simple – and leverages your purchasing power.
The best tracking systems can monitor vehicle fault codes and communicate issues before they result in a breakdown or non-start. This includes a battery health monitor, as well as alerts if it starts to go flat. Not many providers offer vehicle health alerts, so it is best to check in advance.
If you’re an independent business and you can see the benefits of vehicle tracking, then you can bet that your customers could benefit from it, too. Solutions for smaller fleets offer an additional revenue stream for commercial vehicle workshops. With schemes like the Partners in Prime programme, you can earn commission simply by adding a link to Trakm8 Prime from your website.
Try before you buy
The best way to find out if there is a business case for vehicle tracking is to try it out. Trakm8 Prime offers a free trial, typically for one device, which lasts up to a month. This is a no-risk way to discover whether telematics is right for your company, and a great opportunity to try out the latest technology.