There are many providers on the market today and the key is to find one that fits your needs and is particularly attentive to a small business's needs. - Photo: Getty Images

There are many providers on the market today and the key is to find one that fits your needs and is particularly attentive to a small business's needs. 

Photo: Getty Images

GPS vehicle tracking started as a simple-dots-on-a-map solution to provide basic vehicle location data — providing the answer to one question, “Where are my vehicles?” This technology grew to become much more. It now solves more complex business challenges like improving driver and public safety and inefficient workflows. 

If you are looking at GPS vehicle tracking for the first time and unsure of where or how to start looking for the right solution, then you are in the right place. 

There are five main factors to consider when you begin looking for a GPS vehicle tracking solution:  

  1. Understanding your business challenges and needs. 
  2. What impacts GPS vehicle tracking pricing? 
  3. Assigning a point person. 
  4. Introducing the technology to employees. 
  5. Making an informed buying decision. 

Investigating these five factors with your fleet needs in mind will help you make the right choices before you ultimately decide on the system that is right for your fleet.   

Understand your business challenges and needs 

It is best to begin by understanding what challenges or pain points you need to solve.   

Are there safety concerns, such as collisions or speeding incidents? Are you looking at high fuel bills every month? Knowing the challenges you face will let you know if a potential provider has the functionality to help solve it. While most solutions will have similar basic functionality, there may be differences in how they solve each issue. 

Also, consider what is important to you in a business solution. Many businesses fail to consider certain aspects like customer care or support. Is it necessary to find a provider with U.S.-based technical support? As a small business, do you receive a dedicated account manager who is invested in your success with the system, or do you become a number? 

One of the first things you will learn when researching potential providers is that there are many on the market today. The key is to find one that fits your needs and is particularly attentive to a small business's needs. 

Insider tip: It will be essential to know how you will measure success with a GPS vehicle tracking system. Use metrics you presently have at your disposal to determine your benchmarks. This could be data such as an estimate of vehicle MPG, collision rates, or monthly fuel costs. 

What Impacts GPS Vehicle Tracking Pricing? 

A GPS vehicle tracking solution’s cost will vary based on the business challenges you need to solve. This aspect mostly determines the types of features you will require. Features to help you understand vehicle and driver behaviors will be standard within a software package. However, additional features like driver ID (knowing which driver is driving what vehicle and what time), sensor connections like doors and seatbelts, and connections to vehicle diagnostics will increase cost. That is why it is important to fully understand if it is an immediate business need that solves your challenges. 

Additional costs will come with system upgrades. These may entail integrations with other fleet and worker management platforms and video monitoring of drivers and the road.  

A cost breakdown for a GPS vehicle tracking system could be divided into hardware, hardware installation, system support, and monthly fees per vehicle. These costs will vary based on the number of vehicles, length of the contract (which could reduce hardware and installation costs to zero), and type of install (plug-and-play, or more complicated hard-wiring), to name a few. Although costly, default to a professional installer, as a poor installation job could cause reporting issues and other headaches.  

It will also be important to consider your internal labor costs to monitor the system and interpret the reports, which we’ll cover in detail in the next section. 

There are many factors to consider, but in general, keep in mind your top needs and those that deliver the most return on investment (ROI). 

Insider tip: The adage “you get what you pay for” is extremely applicable to GPS vehicle tracking solutions. Avoid the seduction of a low price tag and invest in your company’s future by finding the right solution that can solve your challenges and grow your business.  

Assign a Point Person 

The GPS vehicle tracking solution itself will not solve your business challenges — it is how you monitor and act on the data collected. One point of buyer’s remorse for small businesses is that they invest in a system but never correctly set up a structure to run and maintain it — leading to never seeing the ROI they initially thought they would receive.  

Ideally, you will designate at least one employee to learn the system, monitor your vehicles and assets, and schedule and analyze reports. This point person will also liaise with internal management, drivers, and your GPS vehicle tracking provider. 

Your internal resources will need to go beyond a single employee. Other management-level personnel must be involved individually to coach drivers, enforce driver policies, and disseminate companywide results.  

Insider tip: Whether it is you, an office manager, or someone else who will run the GPS vehicle tracking solution on a day-to-day basis, make sure to utilize all the automated aspects like scheduling reports, optimizing driver routes, and setting preventive maintenance reminders so that you can mainly focus on growing your business. 

Introduce the technology to employees 

Don’t underestimate the process of communicating the implementation of a GPS vehicle tracking system to your drivers. The notion of “Big Brother” has been around since the beginning and continues to be one of the main obstacles to successfully implementing a system. One of the easiest ways to do this is with an analogy — football coaches review the game film with players, sales managers review sales calls with sales reps. It’s crucial to monitor all aspects and assets of the business, including the vehicles, to solve challenges and improve the business.  

A best practice is to get a baseline of data through a pilot phase where you install the devices without them knowing, then introduce it to them when it comes time to implement the system fully. As mentioned above, it will be vital to understand how you measure success and what metrics you will use. Therefore, be upfront with your drivers on how you will utilize the GPS vehicle tracking data regarding discipline and incentives.  

Running a pilot also can uncover some "a-ha" revelations regarding some of your drivers' actions. You may find some underlying issues you weren't even aware of and would not know to address.   

Insider tip: Studies show that engaging drivers through a gamification program can cut overall driving risk by up to 50%. Incorporate this methodology into your plan from the beginning and communicate the rewards to drivers — whoever has the least amount of speeding incidents in a month receives a gift card, for instance. 

Make an Informed Buying Decision 

You’ve researched the technology. You understand the challenges you need to solve. Your point person is ready. Now all that’s left is making an informed buying decision. At this point, you’re most likely looking at least two providers.  

Ask your finalists to perform a comprehensive demonstration for you. If possible, run simultaneous pilots. Install a device or two from one provider on one set of vehicles, and one or two on another set. Running a side-by-side comparison will give you ample data to find out which system.  

The time to properly vet a GPS vehicle tracking system will be longer than you think, but it will save you from headaches and buyer’s remorse down the road. A haphazard effort could result in the need to switch providers, replace solutions, and restart another lengthy (and expensive) implementation, which will take up more time. 

Whether you run a pilot or not, the differentiating factors between providers usually comes down to: 

  • Customer service 
  • Value (what you receive for what you get) 
  • Scalability of a solution 

Following all these steps and taking all these considerations into account should lead to finding the right GPS vehicle tracking solution for your business. 

Insider tip: Ultimately, do what is right for your business. You may not have the time for a pilot during these times or can invest in a ton of research. If you need a quick and efficient way of finding the right solution, we have a simplified process to match you with top providers. 

About the author
Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Associate Publisher

As associate publisher of Automotive Fleet, Auto Rental News, and Fleet Forward, Chris Brown covers all aspects of fleets, transportation, and mobility.

View Bio