Make Smarter Decisions About Your Truck Fleet

Technology can help you better manage your plumbing business and increase profits.

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Who can imagine life without computers, cellphones, CCTV and GPS tracking devices? It wasn’t long ago we put pencil to paper, and perhaps still do, but today there are better ways to manage your vehicle fleet, the theme for this month’s Plumber magazine.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend the NTEA Green Truck Summit in Indianapolis, where discussion focused on the use of technology to monitor vehicle and driver behavior for a better bottom line.
Here’s how.

Beginning with built-in vehicle intelligence, filtered real-time feedback can help you make smarter decisions on vehicle maintenance. Instead of an arbitrary monthly schedule, service can be based on actual vehicle condition. That means catching small problems before they become big ones, and delaying maintenance when it’s not required, which can be a big cost saver, depending on the size of your plumbing fleet.

According to a recent report, preventive maintenance costs have increased about 9 percent since 2008, primarily due to higher oil prices and the shift to synthetics — about an extra $3 a quart for some models. To offset higher costs, manufacturers such as General Motors and Ford suggest truck owners adopt an oil-life monitoring system rather than changing oil at traditional intervals.

Basing maintenance on actual vehicle condition can also help avoid unexpected downtime — a huge drain on productivity and company profits.

Another way to cut costs and increase profits is through gamification. Primarily used to improve driver behavior, gamification taps into an individual’s inherent desire to succeed.

“Individuals want to win,” says Kelly Frey, vice president of product marketing at Telogis. “Ninety-five percent of mobile workers want to do a good job, and if given the right information will do a good job.”

The result can dramatically impact driver safety and professionalism.

“Safety is one aspect of professionalism — wanting to do a good job, to have a good relationship with your employer and with your customers,” Frey says. “It’s self-respect.”

Through coaching software, drivers receive in-cab alerts that reinforce good habits and correct those that need improvement, such as speeding, hard braking, harsh acceleration and seat belt use.

Real-time feedback enables drivers to view their scores and compare them to others. The result can be greater economy for your plumbing business, increased productivity and overall improved customer service.

Brham Trim, owner of The Gentlemen Plumbers in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, tracks nearly every facet of his company’s operations. The subject of this month’s profile, “Dressed for Success,” Trim says technology enables him to know in real time how his business is performing.

“To me, business is just a big chess game,” he says. “You’re always trying to figure out the next move, but unlike chess, the rules in business are always changing. I love being able to make decisions — especially important ones — with all the facts in hand.”

We hope this month’s issue of Plumber helps you do the same. Have a good day.


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