How to improve fleet efficiency, performance

Fleet management technology can improve fleet efficiency, performance


Until recently, fleet management tools have been the exclusive domain of the large fleets - companies with a few hundred or more trucks that are frequently traveling thousands of miles per day. In these situations, fleet management and the maintenance of those fleets is a full-time job, not just for one person, but often for an entire team of personnel who manage, track and maintain the vehicles.

Technological help for large fleets is delivered through expensive, vast enterprise software programs that require extensive training and implementation into a corporate IT system.

Of course, those types of systems are practical and necessary for massive fleets. But they are completely impractical for small business fleets due to their price tags and significant IT needs. Companies with 5 to 100 vehicles, such as local courier services, agricultural business, plumbing or even busy florists, have long been left out of the benefits of a systemic fleet management system.

When one considers that the vast majority of companies in the U.S. are small businesses, and the vast majority of jobs are created by small businesses, it's clear that the small business market is wildly underserved when it comes to fleet management.

Fleet professionals know the benefits of a good fleet management system: better fuel efficiency, cost-savings, employee accountability, lowered maintenance costs and the ability to deliver better customer service.

Small businesses operate on razor-thin margins and often must function in highly competitive localized markets, meaning they rely on every advantage possible. So, it hardly makes sense that small businesses are generally locked out of enjoying the benefits brought by fleet management technology.

Additionally, as small businesses grow to a few dozen vehicles, they become saddled with an expensive decision: whether or not to hire a fleet manager. While the advantages of a fleet manager can be justified in some companies, for many small businesses, the cost of a non-revenue-producing headcount is just not a reality.

These companies are forced to choose between forgoing the efficiency benefits of fleet management or sinking valuable company resources into a costly fleet manager. In many cases, the benefits simply don't outweigh the cost of the new-hire.

MORE AFFORDABLE FLEET MANAGEMENT TOOLS

The situation is changing with new affordable GPS-based fleet management tools.

Historically, fleet technology has relied on high-tech equipment that utilized cellular or PCS (Personal Communication Services) technology that allowed fleet managers to track and identify the locations of vehicles. While generally effective, this technology is not practical for a shoestring-budget small business due to the high cost of entry. However, GPS technology has driven down the barrier to entry.

Services like Inilex's new InilexGPS FLEET - a new telemetry solution that enables businesses to easily analyze operations and reduce costs - offers an affordable option to small businesses that want to benefit from fleet management technology. They can track their vehicles and receive comprehensive reports about their location, speeds, idle times, mileage, maintenance schedules and other up-to-the-minute data that assists with business decisions.

With an investment per vehicle about the same price as it costs to buy and use a mobile phone, fleet management all of a sudden makes good sense to many small businesses.

What makes a small investment like this even more compelling is that the new services out there don't require a dedicated fleet manager. The simplified formats and intuitive interfaces, including mobile applications designed for iPhones or Droids, mean that a regular office manager or other administrative personnel can easily handle the duties of monitoring the vehicles.

FLEET APPLICATION

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