Telematics is a method of monitoring a vehicle. By combining a GPS system with on-board diagnostics, it’s possible to record and map exactly where a vehicle is, how fast it’s traveling, whether the vehicle requires maintenance and other key metrics.
When used effectively, pest management professionals (PMPs) can use fleet telematics to turn data into valuable information that drives strategic decision-making and management.
Regardless of your company’s size, properly harnessing fleet telematics can lead to the following benefits.
1. Improved customer service.
Software connected to telematics devices can show authorized users a great deal of real-time information, including where every vehicle in the fleet is located. So, for example, if your branch receives a call from a customer reporting a pest issue, you can refer to the telematics program to find the vehicle closest to the customer’s address. This makes dispatching a field associate quicker and easier — often on the same day — than calling around to see who’s available to visit the customer.
Some telematics programs even integrate with other business software, allowing users to dispatch vehicles from the telematics system for a more streamlined process.
2. Safer driving habits.
PMPs can use key data to identify unsafe driving behaviors, such as how often a driver exceeded the speed limit, how many times the driver applied the brakes harshly, how many times the vehicle accelerated quickly, and seatbelt usage. Not only does this help employees become more conscientious about safe driving, it also allows management to identify subpar driving and coach safer driving habits, such as through incentive programs.
3. Longer-lived vehicles.
Telematics can monitor mechanical issues, like tire pressure, oil levels and remaining battery power. Some programs allow PMPs to review this information online and set alerts signaling when maintenance is due. For example, when one of our vehicles is due for an oil change, the branch manager and the driver receive a notification that it’s time to take the truck in for service. Plus, coaching safer driving habits as mentioned in No. 2 can add to vehicle life — thanks to less wear on the brakes, for example.
4. Decreased fuel expenses.
Using telematics, PMPs can monitor two big fuel-wasters: an idling engine and excessive speed. Drivers who sit in an idling car are unnecessarily burning fuel. Also, our company research has shown that traveling under 67 mph in a 70 mph zone helps significantly cut back on fuel costs. As a result, our telematics program is set to trigger alerts for any vehicles that have been sitting idle for more than the set time limit or traveling above 67 mph.
5. Greater visibility and control of maintenance costs.
Larger companies that work with a third-party organization to manage its fleet and provide the telematics program also can gain a clearer picture of fleet maintenance costs. Telematics software can track the maintenance history of each vehicle, helping to avoid unnecessary service. Some fleet management vendors have pre-negotiated rates with in-network mechanic shops or are familiar with the typical costs of labor and parts. This helps PMPs get fair pricing on necessary service, and gives them the ability to easily review these expenses.
A variety of telematics devices and programs are on the market for different industries. Whether you have 10 vehicles or 100, there’s likely a telematics solution that could work for your company. The key is to clearly understand the data you need to have, thoroughly research the available options, and consider whether the potential upside — both from a customer service and financial perspective — of telematics supersedes the costs involved.
Michael Rolman is vice president of sales and operations for Environmental Pest Service (EPS), which operates Arrow Environmental Services in southwest and central Florida; Bug Out Service in north Florida; Skyline Pest Solutions in metro Atlanta; and State Pest Control in central North Carolina. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-318-0578.