Fleet Managers Share Best Practices
Installing security company executives explain their strategies for procuring, maintaining and keeping track of their vehicle fleets. Among their priorities are identifying fuel efficiencies, managing drivers and upfitting.
Fuel Cards and Routing Software
Each of the executives interviewed for this story has, at one time, operated his fleet without a fuel card. Each, in turn, became a convert.
“Not having a fuel card became unruly,” Jagger recalls. “We tried sharing a credit card. It didn’t work.”
Jagger switched to Petro-Canada, whose stations can be found almost anywhere north of the border. As Canada’s 11th-largest company, the fuel provider’s massive scale allows it to offer several programs to fleets, each carrying a per-liter discount. Every penny counts, but Jagger, Creenan and Bonifas each enjoy the added benefits of a fuel-card partnership as well.
“We use Wright Express credit cards,” Creenan says. “They are good at almost every gas station and we get reports on mileage, etc., from them. We used to use one local gas station chain’s private-brand card, but that limited use to their stations.”
“Our fuel-card provider is T-Chek,” Bonifas says. “They provide mileage reports, and those are very useful. Our lead mechanic uses them to check on usage and keep track of oil changes.”
Keeping track of vehicles and drivers is another major concern in the security game. Without even realizing it, Creenan and Jagger were well on their way toward GPS-enabled tracking before either adopted the technology.
“The provider found us through our dispatch software provider, and they were actually able to integrate it with the dispatch software,” Creenan says. “The install was easy; they did all the vans in one night.”
Jagger’s GPS system is similarly tied into his alarm response software and connects to his drivers’ handhelds as well. In snowy Western New York, Creenan also relies on the software to minimize idling.
“The GPS is programmed to give us an alert whenever they idle for more than five minutes,” he says. “That’s especially important in the winter months. Now the software generates a report automatically. It even shows if a driver was speeding.”
Bonifas uses tracking software as well, but cautions other security executives against the notion that it may one day replace dispatchers.
“We do use GPS to locate the closest vehicle and to verify time entries,” he says. “We do not use it to automatically route service technicians, as much of our calls are dependent on skill level and appointment times. This has been a very valuable tool for our service dispatchers.”
[Side bars: To read how ADT cut its fleet emissions, click here. Also, check out iPhone apps that can help you monitor fuel usage and other maintenance facets.]
Tariq Kamal is Managing Editor of Business Fleet Magazine, which serves business owners and managers of small fleets. He can be contacted at [email protected].
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