Why you need more than GPS tracker for your fleet

Graham Wood 10/21/2019 Vehicle Management

We get it. You’re avoiding getting a fully-fledged fleet management solution because you want to save on costs. And after all, a GPS tracker is all you [think you] need for your small to medium-sized business.

Well, that’s great and it may serve you well. But only up to a point. If you’re a fleet manager or business owner managing a small fleet (yes, a fleet owner), by using a GPS tracker you’re not only losing efficiency, you risk also actually losing money instead of saving.

But, before you start thinking about the expense, technical issues and complexity pertinent to a fleet management solution, think again. You don’t need a solution with all the bells and whistles. What you need is a simple fleet management solution to serve your needs, as a small or medium-sized business.

You’re probably guessing where we’re going with this. Yes, that’s right, we’re out to convince you that you can get something like what we described above - and you will reap the benefits that come with it.

A GPS tracker is not a fleet management solution

That’s right. We want to make this point totally clear, in the case that you’re looking around on sites such as Capterra — or even Amazon, etc — and need to decide on what is the best solution for your fleet management. So what’s the difference between a GPS tracker and a fleet management app, or fleet monitoring solution.

Well, a lot actually. But don’t worry, we’ll take you through them, in detail, a bit later. The point is, if you are at the stage where you’re currently searching for a tool or software solution to change the way you run your fleet, then you’re already on the right track, so to speak.

The first thing to define is the kinds of use cases you want your solution for. Do you need extra data, for example, for the following?

Location detection

Locate your vehicles and get notifications to help you act in time, in case they have been towed or removed. Knowledge is power, and knowing the location of your vehicles and being able to share it, is vital in fleet management.

Vehicle diagnostics

Use customized diagnostic alerts and notifications to help you handle malfunctions and repairs, as well as to prepare for any visits to an auto repair shop. Especially if they were not scheduled.

Trip log

Use a trip log, which has detailed info regarding events and incidents about your vehicles. For example, you may want to retrieve all the information you need about any business or personal trips, for deductible expenses and more.

Vehicle Status

Get real-time notifications about any engine faults or other mechanical warnings, so you can prevent and cope effectively with unpleasant situations that may incur unexpected costs.

Driver behavior

Evaluate your drivers better and improve how “economically” they drive and generally operate. Data around this topic will help you ensure that your fleet is well maintained and has a longer shelf-life. Also, it can help prevent speeding tickets, as well as hold drivers responsible for any tickets received.

So does a GPS tracker cover all of the above? Certainly not. Hopefully you’re already thinking, OK, I know now what I need.

But first, it would only be fair if we gave a detailed breakdown of what a GPS tracker gives you. Disclaimer: this is only an overview. Others may argue that there is no explicit distinction between the two but while there is some overlapping, we feel that there is.

GPS tracker

The basic features of a GPS tracker, in the fleet management sense, are the following:

  1. Alerts & notifications: concerning traffic on the road, in order to choose alternative routes
  2. Real time tracking: know exactly where your vehicles are
  3. Routing: using this feature you can make suggestions on different routes, based on the type of vehicle and/or type of road.

As well as the above, there are some additional features in GPS tracker solutions. Such as:

Additional features

  • Asset tracking: record all of your vehicles, per type, along with all related details, once you purchase them. This one is useful, mostly for large enterprises that need to manage big fleets
  • Driver management
  • Historical reporting
  • Mobile tracking
  • People tracking

These are all great, but if you really want to help your business make the best out of your fleet, why not try a solution that offers you even more useful features that provide great extra benefits? We’re talking business efficiency and reducing waste.

So, let’s have a look at what you get with a fleet management solution.

Fleet management solution

From our perspective, the main difference between a GPS tracker and a fleet management solution is the depth and breadth of data. Not only you’ll be able to see your vehicles’ location, but you’ll also gain access to additional information, such as engine issues, malfunctions, driving behavior and so on. For example, you’ll get the chance to receive alerts and notifications concerning crucial incidents, such as vehicle towing and internal engine issues, like diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) alerts.

In short, adding to what a GPS tracker provides, a fleet management solution like our very own Veturilo, gives you:

Fleet management features

  • Fuel management: to check your vehicles’ fuel levels and get notifications for low levels calling for unscheduled refueling.
  • Maintenance management: to have the big picture for all of your vehicles’ health.
  • Mileage tracking: maybe one of the most valuable features a fleet management tool has. With this, you’ll be able to track all your trips (business or personal) and use it for mileage deduction purposes.
  • GPS tracking: basically, you want all the functions we described earlier in this article. Most fleet management solutions worth their salt, will offer location tracking, even if the data concerning your vehicles’ location are not all that precise. So, you need all of those functions, by default.
  • Incident reporting: reporting for any unexpected events, which you can set or define.
  • Tire management: you can insert data concerning your vehicles’ tires; for example when was the last time you made a replacement, and plan for future replacements, etc.
  • Inspection management: set parameters for when your vehicles need a check or a safety inspection.
  • VIN lookup: a VIN code is a unique code that’s assigned to every vehicle when it's manufactured. Many data registries use it to record details of the vehicle's history.

So, if you’re interested in buying a used car, you can do a VIN lookup to get the vehicle history report and find records of its previous owners, accidents, and repairs. You can also find out if the manufacturer had ever issued a recall for the vehicle and whether those repairs were eventually made.

Fleet management platforms

Not necessarily named as platforms, the term can also be used interchangeably with fleet management apps or solutions, too. Just to make things a bit more confusing. But let’s just say these are the more comprehensive fleet management solutions that, apart from the basic features above, also have much more specialized additional ones, like these:

  • workflow management
  • customized reporting & statistics
  • real time reporting and real time data
  • invoice management
  • inventory tracking and management
  • document management
  • activity tracking
  • work order management
  • employee management
  • and many others!

All that is really exciting and interesting, but you only really need all of these features if your business — and fleet — is much larger. Plus, these types of solutions tend to be heavier and more complicated, usually meaning dedicated staff and IT resources.

The final word from our side

At the end of the day, you know your business and your needs better than anyone else. Our advice would be: don’t compromise on a simple GPS tracker solution when you can go one step further, without needing to be an expert.

If you have a small to medium-sized business and are operating a fleet of vehicles, no matter how small, then your truth lies somewhere in the middle. That is, leave your GPS tracker solution behind, but stop short of an advanced fleet management platform, packed with specialized features.

For your business, what you need is an effective and easy to use fleet management solution (like Veturilo 🙂 ). What you don’t need is something overly complex that will make your daily routine too complicated, and take your attention away from the more important aspects of your business.