Update 4/17/17: This post has been updated to include new and updated information. Fleetio has been deleted because they no longer offer a free version. There are now five, rather than six, options.
I always feel sorry for canvassers, clipboard in hand, trying vainly to get the attention of busy passers-by.
But that doesn’t mean I talk to them.
I’ll never understand it, but the phrase “can I just have a minute of your time” is a people repellent.
Or maybe it just is for me. If I see a canvasser on the sidewalk, I’ll make a semicircle with a 15-foot radius around them to avoid interaction, even if I agree with what they’re saying. (I’m an introvert.)
However, if that same person is giving out t-shirts, pens, or stress balls, assume that I’m already wearing whatever they gave me, while writing with the pen and squeezing away on the stress ball. Probably simultaneously.
Offering a free something—anything— can change someone’s behavior, 180 degrees.
I’m not the only one who thinks this way. There was an entire episode of Pinky and the Brain in which Brain builds a new earth (dubbed “Chia-Earth”), then uses the promise of free t-shirts to induce a hesitant humanity to migrate to the new world.
Free stuff moves worlds. Literally.
If your business has a fleet to manage, you still might be hesitant about investing in fleet management software (or investing multiple hours to research all the options).
Fear not, “free” can help you here, like it helped Pinky and the Brain entice humanity to a different planet.
Consider trying out one of the below free and open source fleet management software options. You won’t spend anything, and you won’t even have to leave this planet.
Fleet VIP is a great option if you’re a mom and pop shop, and I don’t just mean that figuratively. The free version covers two vehicles, so if you’re a small business, it could have you covered. Similar to Odoo, it has a lot of necessary features, such as GPS tracking and alerts, vehicle mileage, vehicle cost management, and preventative maintenance due dates. What differentiates Fleet VIP is their due date prediction technology feature.
President Steve Farthing explained that this feature helps companies move “the fleet maintenance tracking function into a modern project management paradigm by providing calendar due dates instead of odometer values for maintenance due triggers.” Due date prediction technology “has the capability to project future due dates that reduces or obviates the need for frequent odometer readings or expensive GPS systems to capture odometer readings.”
Add to this the fact that, in the next few months, Fleet VIP might add fuel usage tracking or vehicle profile CSV data import capability, and you’ve got an app that could help your small business cut unnecessary busy work and keep your fleet sharp.
GPS Wox is another piece of fleet management software that could be helpful for a very small business. It’s free for one object, so if you only have one vehicle or asset to track, it’ll get the job done.
The sole review on Capterra is for five out of five stars, though that user has a more advanced version of the software. Other reviews are similarly positive, and GPS Wox’s customer service provides swift responses.
Open source app developer Odoo offers a wide range of apps for business. It also offers a lot of free and open source programs. It has free programs for everything from HR to event management to enterprise resource planning and, of course, fleet management. Odoo Fleet offers multiple core functionalities, with abilities to manage your vehicles’ fuel use, costs, and insurance. They’ll also send you notifications when a contract is about to expire, allow you to establish a company vehicle policy, and, of course, help you manage information digitally, rather than keep track of multiple post-it notes and papers.
Capterra reviewers praise how easy installation is, as well as the app’s end-user orientation. Other reviewers across the internet praise Odoo for consistently improving their business.
If you don’t already have any of Odoo’s apps, you can get a free version of one of their many products. The free app is good for unlimited users, and features cloud hosting. The downside? Customization and support aren’t available for the free version, and there’s also no GPS tracking or integration with GPS systems. Still, given what Odoo provides, it’s a good deal.
If you want a way to track your vehicles, and you have some ability to code, the Open GTS Project might be the right option for you. A word of warning: the Open GTS Project is not a full fleet service program like the ones above. It can track where your fleet’s vehicles are, but it isn’t designed to track things like fuel use, maintenance, costs, or warranty expiration.
That said, there are a range of ways to adapt Open GTS to your needs, like customizable reports based on XML, integration with multiple different mapping software programs, and even adaptable web page decorations. The Open GTS software is compatible with Linux, Mac OS, Windows, and Free BSD and Open BSD. There are client apps that run with it on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, so mobility won’t be a problem.
While the vast majority of the reviews are positive, the naysayers highlight redundancy and “code bloat.” Others criticize Open GTS’s use of Java, and even one positive reviewer notes that it’s “tricky to install for people not familiar with Java.” That said, if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and dig into the code, OpenSource GTS offers a lot of customizability.
Traccar is another free GPS tracking system. Like Open GTS, this is a comparatively stripped-down application. It’ll tell you where your vehicles are, but it won’t manage any other business-side concerns like using proactive maintenance scheduling to save money.
Traccar has a server-based version, as well as a native mobile app. Their software works with a dizzying number of tracking devices, and even integrates with Open GTS. The folks at Traccar stay busy, and show no signs of slowing: they’ve released five new versions of Traccar Server in the past 13 months, and also bring out new versions of the mobile app on a frequent basis.
Reviews for Traccar are primarily positive, with the program getting an average of 4.6 out of 5. If you need help with the program, questions on the Traccar forums are answered with the precision of a Swiss wristwatch by owner Anton Tananaev.
Other Free Tools?
Be like the Brain. Move the world with free stuff. Just make it software.
If, like Pinky, you’re pondering something I didn’t think to ponder, please mention it in the comments below. I promise I won’t respond like Brain usually does.
And if you like any of these free options enough to invest in a bigger fleet management software program (and you should—a Verizon study found that “nearly half of all respondents started to realize a return on investment within six months of implementing a GPS fleet management system”) check out Capterra’s Fleet Management software directory.
Looking for Fleet Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Fleet Management software solutions.