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In the Information Age, fleet managers have access to millions of data points at the touch of a button to track various business metrics over time, but still find themselves without a full understanding of the root problems they’re facing or where to start in finding a solution. For example, declining revenue or client retention are red flags for business owners that something (or several things) is wrong and need to be addressed immediately.
Dismissing a lack of renewed contracts or new customers as the result of seasonality or “the economy” will do little to help improve your business practices or impact your bottom line in a positive way. Whether you work in HVAC, plumbing, landscaping, as an electrician or in another service-based field, if you truly want your business to not just survive but thrive, it’s important to take an objective and data-based look at where you may be falling short in customer service and fleet management.
However, when you’ve built your business from seed to sequoia, it can be challenging to evaluate your business objectively and identify areas for improvement, so here are a few red flags of a mediocre fleet to look for that signal it may be time to make some changes.
1. No real understanding of why things are the way they are
Field service businesses face unique challenges that come hand-in-hand with operating a mobile workforce and fleets of vehicles. But even so, it’s critical for owners and managers to look into and understand exactly what is behind the state of their business, whether it’s declining profits or a sudden burst of new business. Data is an indispensable tool that equips owners with critical insights for improved operational decision making.
By mastering the power of data to analyze trends in business behaviors and then using that information to improve overall productivity, business leaders can make the best use of their time and get the most out of their employees.
2. Measurement is an afterthought, if a thought at all
You’ve likely heard the old axiom, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and it certainly holds true for businesses that manage fleets of vehicles and mobile workers. Managers overseeing a mobile workforce face a unique set of external factors that impact operations, but sitting back and assuming every field employee is optimizing their time and schedules could be costing you in a variety of ways.
Managers used to have to battle the negative connotation that came with tracking due to employees naturally assuming the goal was to catch them in the act or get them in trouble. But with transparency and increased communications, fleet managers can help staff better understand how metrics can improve the business overall, helping them stay safe and earn more while they’re at it.
In recent years the ability to automate alerts when drivers exhibit unsafe driving behaviors and then to customize coaching based on specific and individualized metrics while also tracking actual progress has driven positive results for businesses in across industries. According to the 2018 survey of U.S. field service companies conducted by Verizon Connect and Bobit Business Media, 59% of respondents reported they are currently using a fleet tracking system. These companies reported improved productivity, customer service, and cost control. In short, increased reporting has shown a direct correlation to increased improvement of business efficiency.
3. Teams are kept in the dark
The bottom line shouldn’t only matter to the business owner. Maintaining open communication with employees about their direct impact on the company’s reputation and productivity, for example, helps them feel invested in the overall business and garners loyalty. In order to create a passionate workforce, as well as a culture of responsibility and ownership over one’s career, owners need to partner directly and honestly with their employees to drive sustainable growth in a competitive landscape.
Mediocre no longer
Thought it can be daunting, it is crucial for owners to be transparent about current challenges in the business as well as in their industry to effectively rally employees to address those challenges and achieve key business goals. Driving ongoing success in an evolving business environment requires management to think proactively about the future and decisions quickly and effectively by using the resources they have available, employees and equipment, efficiently to increase profitability, and the most effective way to do this is by using data.