Fleet managers are often hesitant to switch from pen and paper to software and digital record keeping.
Who can blame them?
Shopping for a major investment like fleet management software can be both stressful and monotonous. Shopping for any major purchase can be—unless we’re talking about something fun like an air hockey table or an original Galaga machine.
If you’re cautious or thrifty, big purchase shopping probably means a long buying process of trying to find the right businesses, comparing prices and features, and deliberating, a lot. It’s like when I go to the video store. Yes, I still do. Below is my Blockbuster card to prove it. No, I didn’t vote in the hotly contested Abraham Lincoln/George McClellan election of 1864.
My record for selecting a movie is -and I wish I was joking- 50 minutes. Popes and Supreme Court Justices have been chosen with less deliberation. What can I say? I want to get the most bang for my buck. An investment (even a four dollar one) is a gamble.
I can make that gamble easier for you by giving you an idea of just how much fleet management software costs, what you need before you buy, and some other information to streamline your shopping and searching.
Shopping for fleet management software may not be as much fun as getting that air hockey table, but I can help make it easier than going it alone.
What you can expect to pay
Generally? Fleet management software can cost anywhere from $15 a month to $80, dependent on several factors:
- The vendor: there are hordes of vendors, as with any business software. Our Fleet Management Software directory can help give you a sense of the breadth of choices.
- The size of your fleet: is your fleet five vehicles or fewer? Maybe ten, but looking to expand to 15? Or are you an enterprise-sized business with over 1,000 trucks?
- The version you want: no-frills? Bells and whistles? A bell and a whistle?
Though prices can vary widely, based on those three factors, here’s the basic rundown of what I found:
- The average: about $30-35 per vehicle, per month.
- The outliers: anywhere from $15 a month, to $40, to $80 for some high-end packages
The pricing’s different for enterprise-sized businesses, and complete packages can run from a $10,000 overall flat fee, to the $1,000-$2,500 per user range.
Keep in mind this is a general idea, and if you want a better estimate, talking to a vendor is your best bet.
Bear in mind what you’re paying for, too. Most companies use a pay-per-vehicle model, but some are pay-per-user, and some let you choose either option.
The difference between the two, of course, is whether the software (and possibly hardware) you buy is linked to the employee or driver using it, or the asset or vehicle being tracked.
Either way can get the job done, but pay per vehicle has a weakness. If you’re locked into a contract, and a vehicle is damaged, or just isn’t used for a while, you might wind up paying money for a service, and possibly hardware, that isn’t giving you any return on investment. If you sell that asset, you might be looking at a buyout.
Another difference is between leasing and buying. Some companies will sell you the software, and maybe hardware, directly. Others lease it to you. Be aware, also, that some companies will have you sign a contract. Most I found are either 24 or 36 months.
Also, I realize this is an article on software, but so long as I mentioned hardware, a word of warning: you may wind up buying some. If you want GPS tracking to let you know where your people are, for instance, you’ll need sensors that track each truck.
Tracking devices run the gamut from $100 to $600 dollars. Some companies sell you the hardware as part of the package, but it’s an extra fee when installed. The hardware’s cost can differ based on the plan you buy, too. Several plans I found bundle the hardware cost in the monthly fee, but those who charged a lump sum charged anywhere from $80 to $200. In some cases, software will integrate with existing trackers, as with some of the free GPS options in last week’s post on free fleet management software.
What you should know before buying
If you know what you’re looking for, an otherwise tedious shopping experience can look more like a well-shot sequence in a heist movie. Or a close approximation thereof. To make your experience more Beverley Hills Cop II than Bottle Rocket, though, you’ll need knowledge.
The first fact you’ll want to have ready for a prospective company is the size of your fleet. Some vendors work only with large fleets of 100 units or more, where others target small fleets of one to five vehicles.
Lori Higdon of Fleetio also says you should know how your fleet numbers break down. “There are a lot of diverse fleets out there with cranes, trucks, or other vehicles,” she notes, and all this knowledge can help the vendor get a sense of your needs.
Second to know, Higdon says, is “what are the needs and pain points, and what do you want to improve?”
In other words, have a knowledge of what problems you want to solve with fleet management software. That will help the vendor guide you through their options and features that might be particularly helpful.
This is another bit of intelligence that can help you in the initial internet search part of the process, too. Are you looking to just track your vehicles, or do you also want to keep up with things like battery warranties? Do you want to reduce fuel spend, or are you looking to cut down on idling? If you’re a smaller business, one want that can help frame your thinking is how, and when, you want your business to grow.Each program has a wide range of tools, but the right ones for the job depends on your needs and wants. Page two of this General Services Administration guide to selecting Fleet Management software is particularly helpful.
From those general ideas, narrow even further. If you know you want scheduling in your fleet management software, then you should know what your company’s workflow is, even to the level of whether you issue work orders beforehand or not. The more specific you are, the better help you’ll get from the vendor.
More help finding your free fleet management software
If this article helped you, Capterra has experts who know the field even better, and would be happy to help you find the perfect fit for your company.
If I missed anything, or you have further questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below. I’m better at responding to comments than I am at air hockey.