Routing Trouble: Is Your Business Going The Wrong Way?
Even the most experience driver can choose the wrong route, either by getting stuck in the Monday morning traffic of a usually empty street or by relying on memory rather than facts. Experience is something most of your drivers will lack, because you will certainly hire more youngsters than middle aged driving gurus. So it is easy to deduce that drivers will more often than not choose wrong routes to reach their destination than not.
Another problem with routing is that even the business manager can make mistakes, because street traffic is a fickle thing that changes easily and maps don’t often clearly show correct routes. Traffic signs change faster than maps and streets are closed for repairs all the time without anyone telling you. This way even the best routing manager will do mistakes that will cost a lot of money and may harm the reputation of your business.
Fast routes are not always the ones that appear to be the shortest distance on the map. There are plenty of other facts that make a route fast, like for instance:
- The size of the streets. Narrow streets are often slower to drive on than wide ones. If the shortest distance includes a lot of narrow streets then maybe the second shortest option with larger streets is faster to drive on.
- The buildings on the route. If your seemingly shortest route passes in front of the city court house or a busy school then other, not so short routes, may be faster after all, because a lot of people will be crossing the streets in these places and a lot of cars will go there causing traffic problems. Just imagine the school bell ringing just before your car reaches the place and suddenly hundreds of eager parents are filling the streets with their cars ready to pick up their kids. It is a logistical nightmare.
- The size of your vehicle. Taxis might get away by using a narrow road or two, but if your vehicles are large or even massive, then you absolutely need to take that into account when choosing routes. Sharp corners, low bridges, busy areas are all a no-no when it comes to big trucks.
- The direction of the streets. Street directions may change overnight and you will never know, turning an otherwise great route into a nightmare.
- The area your target location is in. If you have to drive to a super market in some busy little place it is quite different than if you are going to an industrial area. You have to take into account that areas which are densely populated are harder to drive in, because many people drive there to go home or work and many people walk those streets. Avoiding densely populated areas as much as possible.
Time is certainly the main thing you are losing to bad routing. Your clients will always appreciate punctuality and will certainly prefer the faster business out of the lot. Especially if your clients have their own busy schedules to work through you can’t afford to stall a whole other business because of bad routes.
Time is not the only thing you are losing though. You are also losing gas money, which we all know is a problem in our times. Gas prices have only risen in the last years and there doesn’t seem to be an end to that in sight. This is why it is crucial for a business that works with a vehicle fleet to be very careful about how much gas money it spends. Better routes save a lot of gas money.
There is no perfect solution to improve your routes, because every business is different and every city works differently, but there is certainly a better option than doing it yourself. GPS tracking systems will choose within seconds the route which high tech computers have considered to be the fastest, way before you even get out your map. The system will also change routes as soon as any trouble is being faced. So if you get stuck or choose a new street the GPS system will immediately find you the next best route, without any delay or phone calls needed to be made.
Clients will be amazed how you’ll be the first there, when everybody else is stuck driving slowly through narrow streets or doing unnecessary loops around buildings to reach their destination.
Whenever there is an emergency and your driver has to take an unfamiliar route your GPS tracking system will immediately help them get back on track. As soon as you need to change any route you can immediately do so by just sending the new information to your driver’s GPS, without having to make tedious calls or explain through messages or radio.
In our times where gas prices are constantly on the rise, choosing truly fast routes can be a lifesaver to any company that works with vehicle fleets. Being able to change routes efficiently on a second’s notice is something only a machine can do and that machine is the GPS tracking system for you and your business. Fast changes, clear guidelines, great flexibility, these are only a few of the benefits of using a GPS tracking system. Your clients will appreciate your fast services and your business will appreciate the improved profits.
Reckless Driving Could Cost You a Lot of Money!
There is hardly any seasoned business that uses vehicle fleets, which hasn’t had the immense shock of a driving accident happening to one of its drivers and vehicles. In the worst case you will have lost an employee, either to death or debilitation. In the best case your vehicle will need a new paint job and a few fixes.
There are many facets of a vehicle fleet business that suffer from driving accidents. Some of the dire consequences are:
- Loss of reputation. First, your business will be marked by the fact that an accident was caused by one of the employees, which shows both irresponsibility and lack of control. Secondly, clients and potential employees will prefer to go to another business, which seems to be safer to work with or in. This way you will lose both a chunk of your profits and the potential to hire good drivers.
- Loss of money. Injured employees might be a burden on your profits, since they’ll be paid without being productive for at least a while. It also means you need to pay a new employee an extra salary until your injured one returns to work. Not to mention that your vehicles will need repairs almost every time an accident happens. Keeping your vehicles in good shape is one of those major expenses you will want to keep at a low.
- Stress in the working environment. It is never a nice thing to work in a place where every so often someone gets hospitalized or bruised. Productivity drops when employees are under stress and accidents rise.
- If another party is injured, you might be to blame and that costs your business quite a lot of money in reparations.
Reckless driving is usually the cause of most driving accidents. It is either the reckless driving of your employee or that of a stranger. In the latter case you can’t do much about it (apart from cashing in insurance money), but you can prevent the first from happening.
The reasons why a driver of your business might drive recklessly are plenty. Some examples are:
- Hurrying to finish an emergency delivery in time. If your drivers are pressed for time they might cross a few red lights and step too hard on the pedal. This is why it is important to make sure you drivers have a decent schedule and that they follow it correctly. It is often the case that the driver might take a longer break, hoping to make up for the lost time by speeding. This behavior is high risk for everyone involved and should be discouraged.
- Having little respect for the law. It is not so rare that drivers believe themselves above the law, considering laws something for inexperienced drivers. Because professional drivers spend a lot of time on the streets they come to believe that they have a keener sense of how things work when it comes to driving. This is sadly almost always an illusion, because even the best computer systems can’t predict human behavior at a hundred percent certainty.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol. While many professionals won’t touch alcohol during or before work, it is not unheard of that long distance drivers will stop for lunch and drink beers instead of non alcoholic beverages. The threshold at which alcohol can cause street accidents to happen is far lower than that of being drunk, so most drivers feel a false sense of safety when consuming what they think is just a little of alcohol.
- Inexperience. New drivers should not be pushed to work immediately at the same standard of an experienced colleague. An initiation period should be allowed during which new drivers can get accustomed to professional driving and to the streets used most by your company’s vehicles.
To prevent reckless driving you need to set certain rules to your employees and you need to do so clearly in written form and verbally. Speed limits should be checked by an expert GPS tracking machine, because when a driver knows his speed limits are being watched they do not dare surpass them. GPS tracking machines will also let you know if a vehicle stops for too long and speeds afterwards, so that you can nip that driver’s stressful behavior in the bud. Through the tracking system you will easily weed out those drivers that simply have no sense of responsibility, either to the business, the law or themselves. Drivers need to be protected by the innate desire to drive dangerously at certain times and the GPS tracking system is one of the most successful methods to keep such behavior in check.
Communication Breakdown: When You Can’t Reach Your Drivers
In any business that employs human personnel communication breakdown is a common occurrence. A file gets lost, a message is never delivered, a phone call reaches the wrong employee and many other similar hazards may cause vital information to never reach the correct recipient. In businesses where most employees are on the road as part of a vehicle fleet these communication problems are even worse.
Reaching someone who is driving on the highway, delivering a container to the next city is not as easy as it seems, regardless of cell phones and such. Using the phone while driving is just as dangerous as driving in an intoxicated state, some studies show. Having your drivers in such a dangerous state can be detrimental to the driver’s health, the cargo and the business property. Aside from the monetary loss such danger spells, it is also important to remember the loss in reputation and credibility if a delivery does not arrive, or word comes out that your drivers are driving dangerously.
Phone calls also can lead to misinformation, since the driver already has so much on his mind, minding the road and his passengers or cargo, that words can be confused over the phone. The noise of the streets does not help correct communication either. Add to all this stress of being at work and the stress of each driver’s personal life and you have a recipe for disaster.
It is true that most calls will deliver the message correctly, but those few that won’t be understood correctly can make the difference between profit and bankruptcy for your business.
It will often be the case that a new job will be offered on short notice and all your fleet will be on the road. During such emergencies it is a headache to find the vehicle that is less inconvenienced to get to the new destination. You don’t know exactly where your cars are and you have to rely on your drivers being able to inform you correctly and being willing to change schedules on such short notice.
From the driver’s point of view it is just as much of a headache to be constantly called and harassed by beeping phones or a humming radio. Productivity drops when drives feel stressed. The driver might fear to misunderstand information and won’t be able to focus on the road as much as he or she should while receiving a call. This might lead to accidents, which will cost the business a lot in both profit and reputation.
If you want the best method out there, which is able to deliver instantly new coordinates to your vehicles and able to immediately know where all your vehicles are, you need a GPS tracking system. This system will make it easy for you to determine which vehicle is closest to the new destination and it will also allow you to deliver those new coordinates through the GPS tracking system itself.
Your clients will be pleasantly surprised when their emergency delivery is so timely, which makes your business seem extremely reliable. Taxi clients will also rejoice when they find one of your cars any time they need to, no matter the time or the unknown road they are standing in.
In short the benefits of a GPS tracking system when it comes to communication with your drivers are:
- You will know where your vehicles are and you will be able to determine on your own which vehicle should change route and which not.
- Your drivers can receive new information without needing to answer the phone or radio. This way you improve the safety conditions in which your drivers work in, since driving while answering the phone is just as dangerous as driving in a mildly intoxicated state.
- Your clients will enjoy quick deliveries and pickups, marveling at your planning abilities and punctuality, no matter how urgent an emergency they throw at you. This way your reputation improves and you become very competitive in the market.
No matter what type of vehicle fleet business you own, you will often find it difficult to communicate correctly with your drivers. This will often lead to many contracts being lost and a lot of profit too, not to mention reputation. A GPS tracking system can take away all your communication troubles, by making you able to pinpoint the position of all your vehicles and send the best suited vehicle all the information it needs on the new contract via the tracking system itself. This way there is no radio or phone calls and your business can be conducted swiftly and safely.
Business Control: Clear Rules for Clear Profit!
All good businessmen know the importance of clear rules being set to the employees. Rules don’t only protect the interest of the employer, but they also help the employee know his safe limits. Often employees do not know that their behavior is out of line, because they don’t know exactly what their employer desires of them and what the goals of the company are.
Some of the most important reasons to have a set of clear rules for all to refer to are:
- Safety of the human personnel. Many rules are designed specifically to protect personnel from accidents and other types of harm. In vehicle fleets it is important to protect the drivers by setting clear rules about speed limits, area limits and time limits.
- Protect the personnel’s employed status. People who adhere to a set of rules at work are less likely to behave in inappropriate ways while employed. This does not only protect productivity and the working environment, but it also protects the employee’s status as a working person. Helping your personnel be up for the task helps them keep their jobs and all the benefits they reap from it.
- Keep the working environment positive. Displeasing a superior will only lead to a negative working environment. If employees do not know exactly how to keep their superiors pleased it can actually be tricky to preserve a positive atmosphere. People who work at places where they do not feel comfortable in are less productive and suffer from more stress, which can cause accidents to happen.
- Protect your business from lawsuits. If you already have set your rules before someone misbehaves you are less likely to get sued for removing that person from your employment. Being clear about the behavior you expect from your personnel leaves no room for arguments and costly lawsuits. People will know that they are in the wrong.
- Raise productivity. Employees who know exactly how far they can go without getting burned will rarely overstep those boundaries. Clear rules will diminish idling about and secret cigarette breaks, since the employee can’t pretend that he or she did not know that their behavior is out of line. Having your workers take less undue breaks will raise productivity.
The problem with clear rules is that whatever you might decree as a rule does not always carry the same importance. If you forbid untimely cigarette breaks, but there is nobody around to check that your rules are being upheld, then your rules might as well not exist. People will rarely follow a rule out of the good of their hearts or because of their moral fiber, and even if they do, a business’s operations cannot depend on the goodwill of its employees alone.
If your business is situated in a building you can easily supervise your employees through a video camera system. If your employees are on the road, driving your vehicle fleet, then it is a whole new kind of game. The best way to check that your drivers are following your rules is to have a GPS tracking system do it for you. The tracking system works similarly to the video cameras, but it also gives you many added bonuses. While you actually need someone to check the video footage to catch someone red-handed, the GPS system can do that on its own.
For instance, you can set a clear rule that your trucks or taxis should never drive above a certain speed. The moment your driver steps too hard on the pedal you will immediately know. You could also forbid your drivers to take certain routes, or to operate outside a certain perimeter. As soon as someone oversteps those boundaries your GPS tracking system will inform you.
You can see easily on your monitors if your driver is taking too many toilet or coffee breaks, or if he or she is driving the wrong way. This allows you to have proof when you treat your employees in the way your business plan deems fit when they ignore your rules. Having proof of the employee’s deed will save you from lawsuits and their disruptive protests.
Having clear rules for your employees to abide by is a must in any decent business. You can’t expect your personnel to know how you want to run your business and which behaviors you do or do not endorse, unless you make it perfectly clear with written rules everyone needs to know about. Having rules alone won’t cut it. You need systems to make sure your rules are being followed, since no healthy business can rely on its employee’s moral integrity. The GPS tracking system is the best, if not the only, way to make sure that a vehicle fleet is being driven according to your standards. You will save yourself a lot of pain and money by making sure your drivers do not overstep the boundaries you set for them to protect your business interests as well as your employees’ own safety.
Should You Invest In GPS Tracking?
Many business owners with vehicle fleets find themselves in a dilemma; on one hand they already have a successful business but on the other hand they know they could squeeze more profit out of it, if only their operations were more organized. However, investing in a GPS tracking system is not an easy decision to make. There are the initial and recurring costs, as well as the fear that it all might be in vain. Below, we will look into the benefits of operating a decent GPS tracking system.
GPS tracking systems can eliminate many of the problems you face when trying to manage a fleet of vehicles efficiently. The main points a GPS tracking system can vastly improve are:
- Eliminating idle driving. It sounds innocent enough, but we all know how much money we lose because a driver took another cigarette break or he drove the vehicle for his own purposes. It is all too often when drivers do not feel that they are being kept accountable that they use the vehicle for personal affairs and that they allow themselves too many breaks during their route. Simply driving slower than they could can be a hassle too. A GPS tracking system eliminates all such trouble by keeping your drivers accountable.
- Improving routing. Even if your drivers are experienced, the human mind can do a lot of mistakes under pressure. With a GPS tracking system you always know the fastest and most economic route to reach your target. This way you can save a lot of fuel and be more competitive, since you’ll reach places faster than others that don’t own a sophisticated system like yours.
- Control of speed and safety. You will immediately know if one of your drivers is being reckless with your property. People tend to drive vehicles they don’t own less carefully, something that might cost you in vehicle maintenance afterwards. With your GPS tracking system you will know the exact speed at which your vehicles are being driven and you will know whenever the drivers are driving dangerously, crossing red lights or taking forbidden turns. In the end you’ll keep both your drivers and vehicles safe.
- Faster communication with your drivers. When there is a change of plans a GPS tracking system can immediately inform your driver of his new assignment. That way, you do not have to call the driver personally anymore, something that can be quite dangerous at times. You can react quickly to new opportunities without having to think of the hassle of changing your driver’s plans via telephone or texting.
- Strict and monitored rules. If you want your vehicles to stay within a certain area you can easily set that rule and have an alarm ring whenever a driver disobeys the rule. This way you can set clear boundaries to your drivers and you can handle the problems arising in any way your business policy agrees with.
As we can see, a GPS tracking system tackles pretty much every problem that can arise in the management of a vehicle fleet in a business. It is just as good for a small fleet as it is for a large one, as the rise in profit and return on investment actually comes from each car individually and is not tied to fleet size. This means a business with two cars will increase each car’s profit just as much (proportionally) as a business with a hundreds of vehicles. In other words, GPS tracking systems are perfectly scalable.
If you are still in doubt consider this: Fuel prices will only rise from now on. Idle driving increases together with the fuel price since people will consider using the work’s car for personal business to save their own money. If you wish to keep your profits high you have to find a way to spend fuel wisely and keep your employees in check. It is in human nature to cut corners, so it is in everyone’s interest to set clear rules and have a good, reliable system watching over your fleet. This way you can watch your business bloom and your employees know exactly what is asked from them.
Looking at it from the client’s point of view, when you are transporting people they will certainly be pleased your driver does not dally or take wrong turns. Punctuality and honesty goes a long way as far as customers are concerned. If a customer feels that he is paying more than he should, because a driver took wrong turns, you will lose business. If you are transporting goods you can bet on it that your customers need very punctual and fast transport. If a business realizes you are the fastest transport they will use you and a solid GPS tracking system may be all you need to prove that you are the best there is!
Taxis And GPS: A Match Made In Heaven
Anyone using a taxi in our days knows: no serious taxi business works without a GPS tracking system anymore. There are very serious reasons for that. The GPS tracking system actually seems to be the taxi businesses soul mate, as if they had been made for each other. Before the GPS tracking systems taxis had a hard time communicating with each other and their central control. Radios were most often used, since phones only recently became hands free and mobile.
Before those the taxis had to hurdle at certain places, hoping that an adjacent busy street will bring customers. People who needed an emergency taxi, but lived in some little known area, had to order these via phone and wait a long time for their car to arrive.
The calls made to the drivers actually added many problems to an already difficult business niche. Radios were constantly turned on, causing a lot of annoying noise due to all the contracts being sent out continuously. Phone calls were too hazardous for most drivers, as well as too expensive for the business. Receiving a call via radio or phone also added the problem that one hand left the driver’s wheel for a while, increasing the risk of car accidents exponentially whenever a call was received.
The central control had to employ a horde of calling ladies or gentlemen, who had to receive the contracts and find a suitable taxi to carry them out. This suitability was very hard to determine, since the only way to know where the vehicles of the fleet were positioned was by calling and asking them. Usually the call would be made to all taxis, asking the driver closest to the destination to answer and take the contract.
This caused both competitions among drivers who both wanted the same contract and laziness by those who were close but didn’t want to bother. Idle driving was at an all time high, since it was near impossible to determine where the cars were and who they were carrying. Drivers used their taxis for grocery shopping, to pick up kids from school and even to take small vacations. All that happened with the businesses gas money of course.
Taxi businesses were thankfully profitable nonetheless, but the profits were damped by bad planning and control. Contracts were quickly lost or a better competitor or a luckier one and the taxi business that had the most cars was usually the best and most reliable to get the job done, creating a monopoly in the market.
All this ended when GPS tracking systems hit the market a few years ago. For the first time central control could actually see all its vehicles on a map, live. This meant that the business had no longer need to rely on its driver’s reliability and desire to work. The car closest to each destination could be easily determined and picked for the contract when there were no clients in it. A single call to a specific car was enough to get every job done.
Another of the GPS tracking system’s immense benefits to the taxi industry was that the taxi drivers could now rely on a computer driven and thus highly accurate GPS system to guide them to their destinations via the fastest route. No longer was there need to grab a map from the glove compartment or to ask central control or the client for directions. This lifted the prestige of the driver, as he no longer got into the difficult position of needing to ask help doing his or her job. Taxi drivers with the new GPS tool could work with confidence and reliability.
One of the biggest problems of taxi fleets is that taxis often do not obey the driving laws as much as the average car. To increase profit taxi drivers often speed drive and cross red lights, hoping to earn that little extra by running from one destination to the next in the most extreme way possible. This harms both the taxi business’s reputation and can potentially harm the driver and the client. It is safe to say that a taxi business that kills its driver and a client will soon have to close down, because of irreparably damaged reputation. The GPS tracking system is a good way to try and prevent something like that from happening. With the GPS tracking system the central control can monitor driving speed and have alarm ring when top allowed speeds are surpassed.
Any taxi business that doesn’t yet have a GPS tracking business is working on borrowed time. Profits and reliability is so vastly improved by the system that no taxi business can hope to be competitive without one. Clients trust taxi businesses with GPS tracking systems better, because the drivers seem more knowledgeable about the streets, the contracts are picked up faster and the speed limits are being respected. GPS tracking systems and taxi businesses surely are a match made in heaven from the moment they hit the market until now. Control your fleet, pick up clients the fastest and challenge your drivers to be the best via the GPS tracking system.
Idle Driving: The Money You Don’t Know You’re Losing!
It is common in businesses that work with vehicle fleets for drivers not to work to their full potential. It is a sad reality that employees lose their passion to work hard when their salaries are fixed, no matter what they do and when nobody can prove what they are doing instead of working. The excuses you hear will range from the typical to the bizarre:
“The streets were busy”, “There was a car-crash a few meters before me”, “I had a stomach ache and needed to stop thirty times to go to the toilet”… there is no end to it.
You might think you have your driver’s idle driving under control by setting them tight hours to work in and by monitoring their times like a hawk. This can only bring mediocre results, because drivers will choose to speed on the road to get some extra time to idle about. Speeding and dangerous driving can cost you an employee and a car at the same time, not to mention you will scare your customers and irreparably lose face in your market.
To understand the problem, you need to know what causes it. Here are some typical reasons why your drivers will choose to work less efficiently:
- The call of nature. Drivers will use their need to visit a bathroom as an excuse to grab a cup of coffee or a snack and before you know it fifteen minutes have passed instead of a two minute toilet break.
- Family. When people have a driver in the family who works with other people’s gas money they will often find it very logical to abuse the system and use that car for family affairs. This can range from a simple lift to get the kids from school to shopping trips and whole journeys with the family in the vehicle.
- Boredom. Drivers will often get frustrated and drive slower or do detours to visit a place they like.
- Ignorance. Some people are used to driving on certain roads and will avoid others, which might actually be better and faster routes. Drivers do not have innate knowledge of the best routes and rarely choose them as well as a computer system does.
- Conducting personal business on the side. It is not unheard of that drivers will use the vehicle for their own small business at the same time they use it for yours, without of course paying you any rent or asking for rights.
- Abusing changes to the schedule. Sometimes you have to change a route quickly because a pressing deal has come up. Drivers will often use the confusion created by the telephone calls and the new information given to delay their work and you will be blamed for it.
Fact is you can’t know how much money you are losing unless you actually look into it deeply. Another fact is that businessmen lose on average more money than they think they are. Thankfully in our times there is a simple technological answer to this dire problem. Any serious business man owning a vehicle fleet has at least once considered buying a GPS tracking system, and for good reason.
With a GPS tracking system you will immediately know where all your cars are, how long they are stopping, where they are stopping and how fast they are driving. Immediately, you have solved over half of your businesses problems:
- Drivers will not even think of using their car for their family or for personal business, since you can easily catch them red-handed with your tracking system. What used to be a logical thought by irresponsible employees has now become a dangerous gamble thanks to this simple technology.
- Your drivers won’t speed drive ever again. Your GPS tracking system will immediately alert you if your driver does anything dangerous with your vehicle and it is impossible to cheat it. This way you don’t only save your own property from damage, which drivers often don’t care as much about, you also save your employee from danger.
- Your GPS tracking system will alert you at once if your driver is taking any other route except the fastest one. Your system will also help your driver by suggesting the fastest route immediately once you want it.
- No more excuses about misinformation and confusion. The moment you want to change a route your driver will have the exact information on his screen. There is no room to claim to be confused.
Even if you try to guess what your drivers are doing behind your back, you probably can’t imagine the whole truth. From catering to the family needs to selling drugs (yes we’ve seen that too!), your drivers could be losing you a lot of time and money and even endanger the reputation of your company. A GPS tracking system won’t only eliminate idle driving; it will also prevent your drivers from doing illegal actions, like abusing your property and stealing your gas money. Your tracking system will also protect your drivers from their urge to drive faster than they should or cross a red light. In the end everyone in the business wins.