Why Businesses Need GPS Tracking Services

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Provider Enterprises has an important job to do. Through their 250-vehicle fleet of buses, the company is charged with the safe transportation of special-needs students to and from schools throughout New Hampshire. It serves more than 1,700 children daily.

The company is roughly 25 years old, but in 2008, it decided to implement GPS-based fleet tracking technology -- at first to monitor the location of its fleet for routing and quality-control purposes, it says. Provider soon realized the benefits of having the technology at their disposal, though, including cost savings in fuel and labor and improved bus driver routing, student safety and carbon footprint reduction, it says.
With gas prices through the roof, incorporating GPS can lower fuel costs and improve efficiency.

In its first year alone, it saved $50,000 in fuel expenses.

With the national average for regular unleaded gas hovering around $3.74, according to AAA, prices at the pump are painful at best. For small businesses with delivery trucks, fleets, transport equipment and supplies, it's very likely fuel costs are eating into profit. With gas prices expected to go over $5 a gallon this summer, getting that fuel dependency under control could make or break a business.

Mike Henn, CFO of Navman Wireless, shared how using GPS tracking services helps businesses control costs, increase cash flow, improve customer service and help employees do their jobs more efficiently through its so-called fleet and mobile asset intelligence.

What does Navman Wireless offer small businesses?

Henn: Navman Wireless helps businesses reduce the operating costs of their vehicle fleets with GPS-based fleet tracking technology. By combining GPS tracking units installed in each vehicle with back-end software that analyzes the data, Navman Wireless' fleet tracking system helps businesses reduce fuel consumption and other waste, improve dispatch and routing efficiencies by seeing where all vehicles are in real time, optimize vehicle maintenance schedules and identify problems, such as unauthorized vehicle use. Customers typically reduce fuel usage by 10% or more versus those who don't use the technology.

What types of businesses or industries would benefit best from these products? Can someone who has, say, two delivery trucks use this technology efficiently?

Henn: Any business that has vehicles on the road -- or off -- can benefit from using fleet tracking, whether service, delivery or even construction equipment. Navman Wireless' customers range from pest control services, marine parts distributors and specialty cleaning companies to waste haulers, school transportation services and commercial trucking firms. Fleets can be as small as three and as large as tens of thousands.

Do small businesses know this service is available to them?

Henn: There are 20 million commercial vehicles in the U.S. and only 2 million of those vehicles use fleet tracking technology, according to industry reports. In the case of Navman Wireless specifically, the company tracks 140,000 vehicles with 14,000 customers globally. That's a gain of 80,000 vehicles in five years, so our market share is growing rapidly as more people become aware of the benefits and as smaller competitors disappear.

Especially with today's gas prices, why is it important to use GPS tracking?

Henn: We have businesses that have saved $40,000 tracking only nine vehicles in one year and another business saving at a minimum of $36,000 per year tracking only 12 vehicles.

Provider not only cut their annual fuel costs by $50,000, but they also eliminated $400,000 in inaccurate or inflated driver timesheets and associated pay. This was achieved because drivers now punch in and out of a messaging terminal in their vehicles for accurate time reporting, and because the system makes it possible to draw virtual perimeters around each driver's home to monitor when a vehicle is being used outside of work hours.

How much does it cost?

Henn: We are not a one-size-fits-all company, thus the cost will vary depending on which features a customer is most interested in. However, on our most common platform, the cost ranges from $37 to $75 per GPS tracking unit -- per vehicle -- per month. That "buy-what-you-need" fleet tracking subscription structure is a first in the industry that eliminates the need for customers to pay for features they are not going to use.

How else can a small business benefit from GPS tracking services?

Henn: For some businesses, there are a lot of additional benefits. It all depends on the nature of your operation.

For example, one of our customers operates a door-to-door frozen-food delivery service with 145 vans and pickup trucks that are driven by independent contractors. With fleet tracking technology this company has gained:
  • Connectivity to refrigeration sensors that help prevent food spoilage;
  • Near-immediate GPS-enabled recovery of two stolen vehicles;
  • The ability to improve contractor productivity by showing them GPS-based visual replays of their entire workday;
  • Continuous visibility into the activities of the independent contractors who lease the vehicles, helping to be sure they work at full capacity and are thereby generating profits for the company.

The company is easily saving tens of thousands of dollars a year even though they don't pay to fuel their vehicles.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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