How does your business stack up when following the lastest technological advancements?
GPS vehicle tracking is perhaps one of the greatest technology inventions the limousine industry has seen so far. More than just a mapping tool, it provides a wealth of fleet management information that was not previously available.
Let’s face it, once a chauffeur leaves your premises, he is in control of your vehicle until he returns, unless of course you have remote engine disabling or speed governing control. Those two features can quickly get a driver to call you or help reclaim your vehicle if it is stolen.
The biggest advantage with GPS is the all information it generates in real time. That saves time and money. Here are some things to look for on reports and maximize your vehicle and GPS investments.
Using the reports can help you from unwittingly flushing money down the drain. If you are not consistently reviewing your reports, you are not using the available tools. The drains include the theft of time, the theft of gas/mileage, and abusive driving resulting in excessive wear and tear on cars and unnecessary repairs.
Jerry Thomas of Prime Time Limousines and Sedans in Sanford, N.C. shared one such story: “When I first installed the GPS devices in my cars, I found out real quick that I had a chauffeur who was padding his own pocket on overtime charges. Within a week’s time, he had made over $500.” Thomas said he believed the driver was a good, honest guy that he would never have to worry about. “Just goes to show that you really can’t trust anyone these days,” Thomas says.
The top stolen asset in your company involves time. If a chauffeur is using your car without permission, chances are he is picking up a few “side jobs” or extending paying runs for cash at a discounted rate. Remember, he is the guy providing the party, and a bond develops during the night of drinking. When the paid time runs out, it is not uncommon for passengers to ask if they can keep the car longer and pay the chauffeur in cash.
Brandon Kroll from Party Bus Detroit says, “I believe every GPS unit pays for itself multiple times over just for (client time) overages and wages. I tell all chauffeurs that vehicles are equipped with GPS and it forces them to be honest and not take the temptation of clocking out 30 minutes later or letting a client go over for a $20 tip.”
Using your GPS “bread crumb” tracking reports can give you a complete history of where the car has been since the first time the ignition was turned on during the day. You can match the locations and times to your trip tickets to determine if the vehicle was used for unauthorized activity while paying your employee for the time he was actually engaged in service.
For chauffeurs starting from home, this system will help keep you in wage compliance by documenting the actual time it took from when a chauffeur began driving to the pickup location until the job was finished. Kroll also pointed out that when you drop your vehicle off at a repair shop, you can track what they did with your vehicle. When the ignition fires up, you know in theory that repairs are underway so you don’t get stuck paying a mechanic four hours of labor on a one-hour job.
Unfair client claims
Overall, GPS has given operators a powerful tool in the billable-hours arena. What limo company has not had the jovial “big man on campus” drunk that extended his time two hours while boozing away only to call a few days later and dispute the charges on his credit card for the extra two hours?
In the past we often had to relent on overtime charges because we had no clear way to document other than the client’s signature on a contract. GPS offers proof-positive about what really happened and when it happened.
Jess Sandu, vice president of operations for A&A Limousine Services of Seattle, had a passenger recently who claimed to his cargo plane company that the chauffeur dropped him off at the hotel so late that he could not fly a Boeing 747 cargo plane the next day. Not only could A&A have been forced to refund the trip in the interest of saving its contract, it could have lost the contract completely.
“I immediately went to the GPS tracking software and printed out the entire route map from the pickup time at the airport to the hotel drop off and emailed it to the company. This saved me from losing a good contract,” Sandu says. “Although I have never experienced this, I have been told how other limo companies have used this GPS to back up their credit card charges for any overage time on limos when they are disputed by clients.”
Kroll also has had clients claim their chauffeurs got lost and therefore they should not have to pay for the additional time. This is another frequent issue that arises in the chauffeured transportation industry when in reality the chauffeur may have taken a different route than the passenger would have selected but was never lost.
Wasted fuel, environmental pollution, wear and tear
Much fuel gets wasted in the limousine industry because of the nature of the business. Yet it can be controlled and reduced through policy and regular reviews of GPS reports showing excessive and wasteful idling, “lead-foot” drivers gulping up more fuel than needed, or sudden stops that wear out the brake pads. In some regions such as the West Coast, air pollution is a serious matter. Idling vehicles cause unnecessary noise and air pollution.
Also, while having chauffeurs drive your vehicle for personal use such as a trip to the bank or pharmacy may not seem like a big deal, when you have a fleet of 10 vehicles with 10 “side trips” a week, the fuel costs can quickly add up.
One solution is to set up geo-fencing to monitor vehicle use in live mode or through report reviews. In live mode, you receive a text message alerting you that a vehicle traveled outside of a pre-approved area. It may not be an issue because it may be at a client’s request. Or is it? By defining an acceptable area for the vehicle before a trip, a geo-fence will indicate if the vehicle went through the fence. If so, it can examine where the vehicle went and if there was a passenger inside.
Kroll uses the speed alert function of his GPS system to notify him anytime a vehicle exceeds 60 mph. While the legal highway limit is 70 mph, Kroll believes that driving at slower speeds reduces fuel consumption and provides a safer ride.
Adds Sandu, “GPS tracking is a great tool for monitoring activities like speeding or excessive idling that can not only save fuel, but reduce damage done to the engine, brakes and tires.”
How does your business stack up when following the lastest technological advancements?
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