“Give me a call when you get there.”
It’s something I still occasionally hear from my parents, despite the fact that I’ve been of driving age for well over a decade. They’re the nervous kind, but they want to make sure I get where I’m going OK (get stuck in a snowbank once, and they’ll ask every time…).
That’s also something fleet managers want to know from their drivers. Not so much for the sentimental reasons, however. Timely service and deliveries can be the difference between saving, or spending, a few extra hundred (or thousand) dollars a week. But how do you keep track of your drivers?
One word: geofencing.
What is geofencing?
Geofencing is a virtual barrier made possible by GPS tracking . Like so:
The blue line is a geofence, and the blue area is geofenced. If a vehicle enters, or leaves, that area, you’ll get an automatic notification. That is, if you have fleet management software with geofencing capabilities. I’ve made this comparison before, but it still works: geofencing is like that clock Mrs. Weasley has in the Harry Potter movies that keeps track of where her family members are.
For fleets, the possibilities are apparent. Want do know when a driver gets close to a destination, or whether they’re going somewhere they shouldn’t be? A geofence and alerts can tell you both. But that’s not all geofencing can do. Here’s four ways fleet management software with geofencing can keep money in your company’s coffers.
1. Geofencing can prevent vehicle theft
The FBI’s most recent data on motor vehicle theft had it up by 3.1%. When you crunch the numbers, that means a motor vehicle was stolen every 45 seconds in 2015. In the time it takes you to read this post, five or six vehicles will be stolen.
Geofencing is an insurance policy against vehicle theft. If you know a vehicle’s only going to be in certain areas, create a geofence for those places. If the vehicle’s stolen and goes outside the geofenced area, you’ll be alerted. That’s what fleet management software vendor SkyBitz‘s program, Local Fleets, did for Kline Construction.
Kline Construction saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, thanks to Local Fleets. When thieves stole a Kline Construction truck, along with a trencher, they were making off with roughly $300,000 of Kline equipment. Thanks to SkyBitz’s geofencing capabilities, however, the company knew as soon as the truck had left their lot. With the geofence alert, and SkyBitz’s telematics tracking, Kline Construction got their assets back in about two hours. Local Fleets had paid for itself, and more.
2. Geofencing can keep you on track
Geofencing can let you know when someone arrives at a site, and leaves. That provides driver accountability, and an easy way to make sure your drivers are on schedule.
ProTradeNet signed a deal with telematics vendor Zubie to do just this. With Zubie’s geofence-triggered alerts, ProTradeNet will be able to tell when your vehicles arrive at, or leave, a job. Rather than having to contact a technician in the field, a geofencing alert will tell you they’ve arrived at their site.
Denver-based NuBilt Restoration tracks their employees with geofencing. “Because of the nature of the work we do, the employees are setting their own schedules,” explains NuBilt’s IT administrator Steven VanVladricken.
Geofencing helps NuBilt’s office staff make sure employees are managing those schedules well. For each new job, office staff “put in a 300-foot geofence, and when we dispatch a vehicle to that job site we can see if they got there on time.”
It’s a mix that provides for trust between field technicians and office managers.
Mesilla Valley Transportation also used geofences to improve efficiency. The New Mexico- and Texas-based freight carrier also uses SkyBitz’s geofencing capabilities, in this case for a real-time look at drivers’ progress.
Mesilla Valley’s CFO Dean Rigg describes how the ability to geofence a location makes tracking drivers easy: “I can geofence a location and know when a trailer specifically arrived. In the past, I had to look for a specific trailer and manually ping it in the system. Now I have that up-to-date information without having to go looking for it.”
As a result, Rigg’s schedule, and brain power, are free of one more piece of busy work.
Geofencing can make other parts of the supply chain more efficient, too. If the recipient knows the driver has entered a certain area, they can be prepared to unload when it arrives.
3. Geofencing can help you with time management and payroll
If you’ve got technicians paid on an hourly basis, geofencing can help you keep track of their hours.
Wyn Partington, Vice President of Marketing at NexTraq, explains how some NexTraq clients make “virtual timecards” by creating geofences, and geofence alerts, around job sites. When the technician passes the geofence, the fleet management software will record the time. This provides definite records of how long your employees were at work on a certain job. When it comes time for payroll to log the hours, this saves them time, which frees them up to get other work done.
4. Geofencing can provide the intelligence you need
By pairing up the data created by geofences with other information, managers and drivers can make sure they’re paying attention to the right key performance indicators.
Jeff Fiore of Telogis notes that geofences paired with “automated workflows” can help managers discover available workers: “When a geofence condition is met, an event can be triggered which initiates an automated decision-making process that may, for example, search for nearby work that can be assigned to otherwise idle/ underutilized workers.”
Geofencing can thus help you increase technician utilization.
Geofencing can also provide managers with information about whether their employees are engaging in unauthorized side jobs. If you know the areas where an employee’s going to be, you can put geofences around those areas, and enable alerts if an employee goes elsewhere. Some fleet management solutions, like Verizon Networkfleet, let you set up specific reports for geofence violations, making your job even easier.
Are you using geofencing?
Has your fleet used geofencing to save money and be more efficient? If so, let me know in the comments below!
If you’re interested in what geofencing can do for your small business, check out these other Capterra posts: