Big Data & Small Fleets: Misconceptions About Adopting New Fleet Technology
Updated: Mar 27, 2021
How many vehicles classifies as a small fleet? The small fleet label has been applied to fleets with up to 10, 20, 50, or even 100 vehicles. In general, we think of a small fleet as having 50 vehicles or less. So how can a small fleet benefit from using telematics?
Why Should I Adopt Fleet Technology?
Small fleets are not always overseen by dedicated fleet managers. Instead, the task might fall to the office manager, someone in accounting, operations, or many times the owner themselves due to the company’s size. For these individuals, fleet management is an extra responsibility on top of their normal priorities. Telematics, in turn, can help make these responsibilities easier to handle through integrated fleet management features.
Before we dive into some of the common misconceptions surrounding telematics, it is important to note the benefits. Here are the most frequent areas that telematics has an immediate impact on:
Gain visibility into fleet operations and trends
Manage fuel efficiency and reduce waste or fraud
Optimize routes and vehicle use
Reduce idling time
Decrease Maintenance Costs
Increase driver safety
Insurance discounts and savings
These benefits can be seen regardless of fleet size or structure and programs can be customized to maximize the impact. For most, results are immediate providing instant ROI.
Misconceptions About Telematics
Adopting new technology can be confusing and seem like a daunting task, especially with so many misconceptions swirling about. The key thing is to take the time to understand what your fleet's needs are and ask questions as you learn about the various platforms. Getting an outside perspective can help resolve any concerns. Here are a few that we hear regularly:
Telematics Systems Are Expensive
“Telematics will cost me thousands of dollars to implement,” is something we hear often from smaller businesses. Depending on fleet size, your needs, and the vendor you select, telematics can be as expensive as $1,000 per month for an enterprise-sized corporation or as affordable as $15–$20 a month for a small business. When looking at a telematics solution, there are a lot of factors to consider such as equipment costs, ease of install, monthly fees, and even contract terms.
At Argos, we try to make all these factors as simple as possible. The Geotab GO9 device is a true plug-and-play solution. For a budget-conscious fleet, this is a smart option as is inexpensive, simple to use, and can be installed in seconds.
When budgeting for fleet solutions it is important to look at it as an investment, not an expense, and the ROI should be considered. Once implemented, most fleets recoup the cost of the service by using the software to tackle goals such as reducing fuel use and lowering maintenance costs.
In other words, if you could put $1 into telematics and it returned $2 or $3, would you care how much it costs? Before purchasing a solution, run a cost-benefit analysis. Estimate the amount of money a device could save you or make you and compare that to the costs.
ROI considerations should also include discounts and savings from insurance companies. As telematics has become more relevant, many insurance companies offer additional discounts when utilizing a telematics system.
Managing a Telematics System Will Cause More Work
From installing devices to managing the data, it’s understandable why there’s a misconception that it can be time-consuming to manage fleet data. The truth is that a telematics solution can be as time-intensive as you want it to be.
Starting with installation, it can sound like a complicated or technical process needing an expert. With some telematics solutions, this can be true and require a lengthy installation process requiring multiple tools and wires to be hardwired. There are also solutions like our solution, the Geotab GO9 that are the exact opposite. Not only are the latest GO products small and compact, but they are designed to make installation quick and easy. You just locate the OBD-II port in your vehicle, insert the device into the port, and voila! And if you do not feel comfortable installing the devices, we offer professional installation services.
For collected fleet data, the more time you spend on it the more likely you are to see a positive ROI, but many functions can be automated. For example, you can create alerts that are sent to your phone or inbox when a driver arrives at a certain location. For safety-conscious fleets, notifications can be extended to instances of excessive speeding, idling, braking, cornering, or if the vehicle has been in an accident.
As you look at providers, make sure that any data that is collected can be consumed easily. What does the dashboard look like? Is it customizable. No two fleets are the same, and technology should mirror your company's needs.
Drivers Don't Want to Be Constantly Monitored
This is probably the most common objection we hear from fleet owners. The fear that rolling out a system will cause an uproar with their employees and drivers. Telematics tracks information about a vehicle and how you use it. It’s important to not get vehicle telematics mixed up with some of the cell phone GPS tracking systems out there, where drivers must download an app onto their phone. Those types of systems mean the driver’s cell phone is the focal point, not the vehicle. While these systems provide “dots on a map,” they don’t tell the whole story, and your drivers would probably agree.
If there’s a behavior that can mean lowering the risk of an accident, and therefore lowering the risk of losing a job, drivers are likely to be open to the feedback. In some cases, the information can even exonerate drivers when frivolous complaints are received.
Besides, most fleet managers aren’t interested in and don’t have time to watch each driver minute by minute. This is especially true as your fleet continues to grow. They are more concerned with using telematics data to help meet company goals such as reducing fuel costs, minimizing the number of accidents, ensuring overall fleet safety, and increasing productivity within the operations.
In fact, we recommend using our Safety Scorecard to reward drivers for exhibiting the right behaviors. Fleet managers can use the information from telematics to create quantifiable goals that come with incentives for drivers. Having a bonus program based on safe driving behavior, productivity or efficiency can be easily accomplished because of this objective method to measure driver performance.
As new telematics are rolled out, executives and managers emphasize the role the technology will have for the company moving forward. Transparency will help calm any concerns and get your fleet behind the new initiatives.
I Trust My Team, I Do Not Need To Track Them
You trust your employees and hire only the best. This is a common myth that can get owners and fleet managers into trouble. Not that employees aren’t trustworthy, but we all make mistakes. And for an employee, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to try to hide a mistake or cover it up.
To make our business better, we must see the individual employees’ activity holistically through telematics. As data comes to light, using that information to correct less than desirable actions opens the door for continues coaching and improvement.
For companies that use specialized equipment that can be expensive, the information goes beyond driving behaviors. If a vehicle (or expensive piece of equipment) is ever stolen, with the help of real-time GPS tracking, your chances of recovering these assets increase exponentially.
Finding a Telematics Provider - Indianapolis, IN
Before you make any additional assumptions about telematics, consider how much the industry has grown in recent years. If you first heard about telematics 10 years ago, then it’s likely a lot of your ideas about telematics have since changed through technology improvements. Geotab is at the forefront of technology, constantly updating and improving software, hardware, integration, and adding new partners via our Marketplace.
Finding a telematics solution shouldn't feel overwhelming. That is why the team at Argos Connected Solutions has been helping small fleets in the Midwest since 2016. Having worked with fleets of all shapes and sizes, we understand the complexities that come with adopting new technology.
Connect with our team for a consultation to learn more about how big data can impact your growing fleet.