Angela White and Chris Utter, the proprietors and management team of Central 1 Security, a security dealer based in Brookfield, Wis., wanted a tool that would help them reduce costs associated with the company’s fleet of six vehicles. Ideally, they were looking for a system that would track personal use of the company’s vehicle fleet, monitor vehicle speeds, and allow them to cross-check timesheets and invoices.
White’s enthusiasm for data led her to a fleet management tool from SkyBitz, a sister company of Telguard, Herndon, Va. White knew the importance of reliable data to her business, and she was looking for better ways to harness such information. The fact that White was familiar with the Telguard brand, which has long specialized in helping the independent security dealer grow his or her business, was an added bonus.
For Utter, the SkyBitz pricing structure was “hugely appealing.” SkyBitz owns the commercial-grade GPS trackers that it installs and charges a monthly fee for use of the equipment and for the multitude of real-time data and reports those trackers provide to fleet operators. That meant no up-front capital costs for Central 1, and no maintenance fees, ever. It also meant an almost immediate return on investment.
With a communicator the size of a credit card, which can be installed either covertly or with the driver’s knowledge — tamperproof, in either instance — the SkyBitz fleet solution yields relevant and actionable information that can be used to improve the efficiencies of a business like Central 1 Security and, consequently, improve the company’s profitability. For White, Utter and their company, that’s exactly what happened.
The most immediate and obvious benefit was improved routing and dispatching, which not only reduced fuel costs but also allowed field technicians to be more responsive to customer needs, whether those needs are routine or unanticipated. By knowing exactly which company vehicles are where at any given instant, Central 1 management can now route them to the next job based on which technician or salesperson is closest. This means fewer trips to the pump, which is a welcome benefit in this time of unpredictable fuel prices. In Central 1’s case, in a matter of weeks they saw a 12 percent drop in fuel expenditures after partnering with SkyBitz.
Risky driving practices are another thing that can harm the bottom line. With the SkyBitz fleet management solution, speed is monitored whenever the vehicle is in motion. As well, the system provides in real-time the posted speed limit and accurately gauges the “road speed” — i.e., the average speed of the other drivers on the same stretch of road at that same time. That way, the fleet manager knows how fast a driver is going and can put that vehicle speed in the context of how fast nearby vehicles are traveling.
White and Utter chose to let their employees know that a tracking device was being installed in the work vehicles they used. “After an initial talk with the drivers, we saw violations go down,” Utter says. The drivers knew that real-time speed data were being transmitted back to the office, so those that were prone to “excessive haste” took it upon themselves to maintain a safe and legal speed.
Central 1 employees take company vehicles home at night, so some level of personal use was both expected and permitted. However, when it came to limiting personal use, SkyBitz helped Central 1 to move from the honor system to accurate tracking. Drivers knew their personal mileage logs were going to be checked against the actual numbers recorded by the SkyBitz fleet solution. So when it came to excessive personal use of a company’s vehicles, White said not much beyond a gentle reminder was needed to bring the employee back into compliance with Central 1 policies.
“The tracking device is like a security camera,” Utter said. “The fact that it’s there is itself a deterrent.” As a result, personal use miles decreased significantly, all without any kind of uncomfortable confrontation or disruptive change in company policy.
The SkyBitz fleet management device also monitors vehicle starts and stops, which allows it to provide accurate information when it comes to knowing how long a technician is at a service appointment. Hourly billing practices, while often necessary, can lead to some unease and even pushback on the part of the customer. With the SkyBitz system, Central 1 can point to tangible, third-party-generated data to show the customer exactly when work was performed and exactly how long that work lasted.
SkyBitz also helped Central 1 stay on top of maintenance schedules. With different makes and models populating the same fleet, maintenance can be onerous and — if not strictly adhered to — costly. The SkyBitz fleet solution sends out maintenance reminders tailored to the vehicle make and model, so the hazards of a “one size fits all” maintenance schedules are avoided. The fleet solution also includes on-board diagnostics capabilities, which allow the device to communicate “trouble codes” that tell the fleet manager exactly what’s wrong with the vehicle and also generate daily status reports for each vehicle. This minimizes unexpected breakdowns and helps fleet vehicles stay on the road.
These maintenance features, along with all the other reporting capabilities will continue to save the Central 1 team both time and money.
For more information on SkyBitz Local Fleets for fleet management visit www.SkyBItz.com/LocalFleets.