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Intro to Telematics: How to Use Tech to Track Your Workforce

WHERK blog: Introduction to Telematics

Intro to Telematics: How to Use Tech to Track Your Workforce

Whether you’re a [lumber, an HVAC professional, electrician, repairman, mover, painter, or a general contractor, you all have one thing in common: being on the move most of the day. These pros go from one job, or service request to another, and they also need to ensure they’re following protocol and moving through their queues with efficiency and diligence. In the past, the only way to keep track of field-based employees was over the phone. For operations heads, this has long been a limiting and often flawed way to manage their workforce. While field workers update you and tell you where they are in the field, keeping track of them throughout the day can prove to be a challenge.

There’s plenty of potentially critical data—related to both driver and vehicle—that a phone call can’t convey. It refers to hardware that’s installed in vehicles to capture a wide range of data. Telematics devices can seamlessly transmit to back-office databases, business software, or other organizational platforms. A telematics system’s capability can be broken down into three major categories: GPS vehicle tracking and two types of driver behavior monitoring.

Below we’ll explore each of these functionalities in greater detail. Also, we’ll explain how small business owners can use them to make their operations safer. Making drivers more efficient, while also implementing accountability. What follows is a discussion of how telematics can lay the groundwork for a more evolved, cutting-edge, future-proof fleet. 

GPS Tracking 

While the particulars of features vary from one telematics system to the next, nearly all of them start with a GPS system. While this technology isn’t new, the way telematics systems use vehicle tracking makes it much more valuable. A fully integrated telematics solution can take location data from devices inside vehicles, and send it to an online platform. At that central location, back-office personnel can see where field team members are located throughout the day. This gives them a powerful level of visibility and allows them to carry out their responsibilities with greater precision. 

When a fleet manager can refer to real-time mapping visualizations and see where his drivers are, he can make smarter decisions about whom to assign incoming work orders to. Depending on their skill sets of course. This can optimize driver routing by keeping an eye out for traffic jams, accidents, and inclement weather. Giving fleet managers and dispatchers the power to see where their drivers are in the field can tighten operational efficiency. Also, it can also guide your personnel toward sharper judgments.

Driver Behavior Monitoring I: Driver Habits 

Telematics technology’s greatest innovation is the data it captures on how a vehicle is being driven. If you’ve heard of car insurance companies’ tracking devices, then you’re already somewhat familiar with these capabilities. Telematics devices are able to track a range of driving metrics, including average speed, acceleration, braking, and even how well your drivers are making turns. This is prized data with a host of implications for your organization. Business owners and fleet managers can use this information in a number of meaningful, difference-making ways. When you can examine and analyze your drivers’ behaviors and habits behind the wheel, you can learn about your business’s liabilities. Telematics can show you which team members regularly exceed the speed limit, who jams the brakes at the last minute, and drivers frequently caught on congested roads at high-risk times of the day. 

Small business owners and fleet managers can do so much more than just scan through all this driver data, though. This information epitomizes actionable insights. Managers whose team members are regularly engaging in risky driving habits can give warnings, or incorporate consequences into company policy. Supervisors can start by speaking to their riskier drivers in one-on-one settings. Explain to them what their driving habits could cost the company. Maybe give them some incentives to be better drivers. Telematics establishes a level of accountability that pushes your drivers to be safer and more effective behind the wheel. 

According to a 2018 study, the annual commercial fleet accident rate was 20 percent. That is, one in five drivers was involved in some kind of incident each year. The average loss for those accidents was a whopping $70,000. Companies that pull together data and see just how their drivers are performing behind the wheel, can definitely hone in on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities. Then, they can carry out measures to reduce or eliminate them. It’s a clear-cut path to reducing your company’s liability, saving money, and making the roads safer for your drivers.

Driver Behavior Monitoring II: Fuel Efficiency

Vehicle tracking devices collect data on other aspects of driver behavior so important it justifies its own section: fuel efficiency. For small businesses that rely on fleet-based teams, fuel can represent a significant percentage of their entire operating budget. Finding just a single strategy for decreasing fuel spend represents a major victory in the never-ending struggle to cut overhead. Fortunately, telematics actually gives you several paths to increasing your team’s fuel efficiency.

The first and arguably most important of these paths is cutting down on idle time. Only in the past few years have fleet-based companies discovered just how costly rampant idling can be. Telematics captured the data that first revealed this staggering hidden cost. Small businesses can use telematics technology to see exactly how much idling is costing them. They can then train their drivers to avoid this wasteful and expensive habit. It’s also worth noting that cutting down on idling has a direct impact on your company’s carbon emissions. While individuals and organizations are looking for ways to “go green,” simply reducing idling time is an easy and effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Telematics can also show each vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and owners can use this data to pinpoint inefficient vehicles and drivers alike, implementing strategies to phase out bad driving habits that result in fuel waste. With that, they can compare their numbers with industry benchmarks to get a sense of how their employees are performing. They can also compare the data with their peers and competitors.  Small businesses interested in enhancing their efficiency and employing powerful strategies for growth should take a look at WHERK.

WHERK is a brand-new home service software built for small businesses. Whether you run an HVAC firm, a plumbing company, or a landscaping business, WHERK has features and functionalities designed with the goal of helping teams just like yours to thrive. Visit the WHERK website to learn more.