Nov

Q&A for Newcomers

2010-11-01 21:02

FleetWatch put together some questions we feel a newcomer would ask and put them to Brendan Horan, general manager of sales and marketing for MiX Telematics, for answers. Take his advice for he makes pretty good sense.

What should you look for when buying a vehicle fleet management system?
It is crucial that the customer understands their long-term needs and equally, the service provider is able to assess the customer’s needs and offer the appropriate solution. Too many systems are taken “just because we need a tracking system’ which results in buyer’s remorse and poor service received for the contract period. You need to look for a reliable andsustainable service provider who is willing to understand your environment and essentially become a partner in the efficiency, security, health and safety of your drivers and fleet.

It is important to invest with a company that has control over its technology. We find too many flyby- night operations that purchase in systems and then have no real control over the technology. Signing with a technology leader will always give you investment protection. You also need the assurance that the business will be around to service your contract in the future so financial stability and a critical mass of customers is a must.

Also, look for a solid service network not only where you are but also where your vehicles operate to ensure you have a high degree of system uptime and data integrity.

What are the common pitfalls operators must avoid when selecting a tracking system?
Avoid buying the cheapest option because you think every system is the same. Rather buy from a reputable operator. Also, spend some time not only with the technology but also interacting with the service team (if they have one) and support staff. A reputable supplier should be able to provide solid references and display long term relationships with large fleets.

What are the benefits vehicle fleet management systems should provide?
The main benefits should include business efficiency, cost saving, improved utilisation of vehicles and staff, security and safety. If used to the full, all these benefits can be unlocked and will provide ongoing return on investment. As part of the service to our customers, we work on ensuring that the benefits result in tangible savings.

As regards fleet management systems pricing. Are operators getting what they pay for? How do you avoid hidden costs?
It is important to assess the cost of the service against the intended outcome and requirements. Buyers should beware of contracts that appear cheap but have a number of variable expenses. The onefixed- price approach has worked well for us. Often the customer is enticed by a lower perceived cost and is then shocked at the real cost of ownership.

How much fleet management does a fleet really need?
This all comes down to the intentions of management and the method in which the business is run. What we do advocate for companies starting off is that they focus on certain areas and grow their competence and efficiency in these areas.

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