Owning and operating vehicle fleets is part of everyday business for most South African small enterprises, such as builders, plumbers, and electricians. Since transportation doesn’t form part of their core business operation, many of these owners find it challenging to optimise their fleets as they are often unaware of how to do so.
However, optimising fleet operations is more straightforward than most small business owners think, and it can help them save money by reducing the cost of operation per vehicle.
“No matter how many vehicles a business operates, an effective telematics solution can provide business leaders with access to and control over their vehicle data, along with the tools and features needed to optimise their vehicle usage,” says Justin Manson, sales director of Webfleet Solutions. “As a result, businesses can improve driver behaviour that may harm the brand’s reputation and damage vehicles, get more jobs completed on time, and encourage fuel-efficient driving.”
Telematics is more than just GPS fleet tracking; it provides managers with real-time data by combining software and hardware installed in each vehicle. This technology can collect speed and driver behaviour data, such as harsh braking and acceleration, and excessive idling, which helps small businesses save on fuel costs, improve vehicle and people management, as well as driver and vehicle safety.
If telematics technology sounds like the right solution for your organisation, then the following guide will help you choose the most suitable supplier for your business, Manson says.
Identify the business needs
It is crucial to determine what business goals you want to accomplish before investing in telematics – for example, do you want to solve an existing problem or do you just want to cut costs by saving money and streamlining processes?
Consider ranking the benefits of telematics by importance for your business to help you determine this, including more efficient planning control, higher productivity, reducing costs, or more accurate record-keeping.
Knowing your business needs will help you find a telematics provider who can provide the right solution.
Involve your colleagues
A fleet management solution isn’t just beneficial for your drivers; it can also benefit departments across the business, from IT to finance and even HR. Consider taking time to identify colleagues who will use some aspect of the fleet management solution and ask for their input.
Most importantly, be sure to keep your drivers, or a representative of your drivers, in the loop. They’ll be the ones using the system daily, so they must understand the system’s benefits right away. This stage will also be ideal for listening to and addressing concerns about how such a system will affect work, security, and privacy.
Ask suppliers for proposals
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to start browsing. When reaching out to telematics suppliers, make sure to let them know what your priority objectives are, and then ask them to submit a proposal to you regarding the solution they think suits your business best.
Not only is this the simplest way to get the information you need, without having to wade through webpages and brochures, it will also give you a good idea of what the supplier is like to deal with and how they handle clients.
Include everything in the contract
Once you’ve decided on a solution, you can start discussing the terms, conditions, and rates with the supplier. Don’t forget to arrange planning, installation, training, and service. After all, you want to ensure everyone can operate the new system effectively.
Lastly, ensure you set out everything in a contract, with maintenance, warranty, and security agreements. It’s also advisable to reach agreements on data privacy through separate processing agreements. With this, you specify who has access to which data and why.
“When weeding out supplier proposals, make sure you understand precisely what your telematics will deliver, including functionalities like vehicle tracking, driver behaviour analysis, navigation, geofencing, and reports. So, make sure to discuss the system’s functionalities with suppliers,” concludes Manson.