GPS tracking technology on plumbing trucks pays off on many levels
Truck 54, where are you?
It’s 2:37 p.m. Do you know where your trucks are?
If you’ve got the right GPS tracking technology onboard, you have the capacity to monitor the location and travel routes of every service truck. The multi-featured GPS software out there can be configured to meet the needs of a fleet of one or a fleet of 50.
Current fleet tracking technology goes far beyond basic vehicle tracking. Companies face concerns of excessive fuel usage, vehicle maintenance, driver safety, stolen vehicles and inaccurate labor cost accounting. Systems enable a plumbing contractor to monitor a vast amount of data. Systems can track and store data on anything from travel time and fuel usage to efficient control of any size fleet.
While tracking system providers advise moving cautiously when introducing these systems to your operation, plumbing and heating companies are promised reduced costs, more efficient vehicle maintenance scheduling, prompter service calls and even ways to protect that expensive fleet from misuse or theft.
There’s still a resistance to adopting more sophisticated tech among some companies. Some fear that using this kind of tracking technology, employees will feel it’s too intrusive and demonstrate a lack of trust in the crew. System providers emphasize that both management and employees benefit. Others fear too steep a learning curve to implement such systems smoothly.
System providers suggest that contractors look for a GPS with an intuitive user interface and a comprehensive suite of features. Factor in ease or difficulty in learning and navigating a system. They say it’s important to choose a solution with features that meet the specific needs of not only plumbers and plumbing contractors, but the individual business.
Basic truck tracking
Dispatchers appreciate the ability to schedule trucks to calls with minimal travel in time and miles between jobs. In an emergency like a broken furnace or busted pipe in the winter, systems help dispatchers quickly send the closest, best-equipped vehicle to the scene.
An interesting feature for dispatchers is the ability to see vehicles on-screen in real-time and to send them to a new job or a customer emergency. This eliminates the need to call technicians to find out their current location or the status of the job they are on making the dispatcher’s job more efficient and effective. Anytime you can avoid interrupting one job by checking in about another job is another chance to provide better customer service by giving the current job your full attention.
GPS tracking systems offer the option of not only knowing the current location and destination of each vehicle, but also real-time on-screen viewing of where and how trucks have traveled. Companies may increase service revenue with more efficient scheduling and routing from a desktop or smartphone with more sophisticated tracking software. By providing accurate ETAs to customers, you can improve customer service.
Safer, more efficient driving
Fleet tracking can tell you if techs hit appointment ETAs on time, give accurate figures on fuel consumption and even tell you if there is aggressive driving or speeding. This kind of data not only gives you a real picture of how your fleet is performing, but also gives you some ideas on areas needing improvement or re-training.
Location intelligence based on the vehicle is another level beyond basic truck monitoring. Basic devices will show where a technician or vehicle is located but will not help monitor idling, speeding, engine diagnostics, track miles driven or run time for maintenance. Also, contractors need to be aware that drivers could easily tamper with mobile devices so that they are not being tracked. Tracking should reduce operating costs with better fuel management, less idling, maintenance alerts and engine diagnostics.
Vehicle tracking devices allow you to closely monitor each driver’s behavior and find opportunities to improve fleet efficiency. You can set up automated alerts to track speeding and idle engine times. Reducing these driving behaviors, tracking vehicle usage and optimizing driver routes can help reduce fuel costs. Data collected allows the company to improve driving behaviors with driver safety scorecards and training. Software also can help keep fleets moving with alerts for maintenance and when diagnostic trouble codes are triggered in vehicles.
Because response times are important to customers — they want to know precisely when you’ll arrive and don’t want to deal with an indefinite window — the more accurate the arrival time the better. Having a GPS tracking system means you can give those customers the best estimate for when your techs will arrive on site to deliver your products and services.
Plumbing service and repair trucks filled with an extensive stock of parts and tools are an expensive asset to acquire and replace. Consider a comprehensive solution that includes an alert functionality. An alert feature can notify a fleet manager if a vehicle is moving after hours or on the weekends.
Advanced tracking solutions also allow companies to place geographic fences around specific areas to monitor vehicles. If a truck isn’t where it’s supposed to be, that alert can lead to its return, hopefully undamaged and intact.
Using monitoring systems can protect the business from potential liability with proof of service, job details, job notes, photographs and vehicle tracking. Monitoring driver behavior helps to ensure that your drivers are performing their tasks at the correct time and place.
Tracking software allows you to see the exact location of your vehicles, monitor the amount of time a vehicle spent at a particular location. This can also reduce unauthorized vehicle and fuel card use. Handwritten time sheets can be backed up by tracking software which can verify time sheets for you and give you the tools you need to accurately bill your customers or handle any discrepancies.