Whether a company has a fleet of 10 or 10,000, it can benefit from cloud-based GPS fleet tracking technology. Many companies may have avoided this investment due to high costs, lengthy installation processes or inaccurate or insufficient data. With recent technological advancements in the industry, next-generation solutions are able to give plumbing and/or heating contractors GPS, fuel, driver behavior and engine diagnostic data that helps manage fuel expenses better, increases usable vehicle life and improves productivity.

All this, at less than 70 cents per vehicle per day, with a return on investment realized so fast that the ROI calculator has fallen by the wayside.

Benefits of the cloud

In the past, when GPS costs were much higher, GPS vendors relied on ROI calculators and lofty ROI projections to back up the expensive cost of GPS. However, the common complaint throughout the fleet industry remains the same — these projections are overstated. The emergence of plug-and-play, born-in-the-cloud GPS fleet tracking is, for the first time, helping alleviate fleet managers’ challenges and headaches around implementing a valuable tool without worrying about significant startup and monthly costs.

Operating through cloud technology has shaved off nearly 25% of the cost of running such a system and these costs should be passed on to customers. Device hardware prices are falling and so are wireless data plans. Yet, the industry is clinging onto lengthy contracts, severe early termination fees and high monthly price points that traditional GPS companies offer.

In addition to cloud-based technology, the device hardware is undergoing sweeping changes. Many of you have seen Flo, the lady in the white dress in the Progressive Insurance commercials, talking about the company’s Snapshot device, which is plugged into the onboard diagnostic port of a customer’s car. Real-time driving information is shared with Progressive and may save customers money with discounts on their insurance.

This same compact device has now found extensive use in the commercial fleet industry. This device differentiates itself by reading a vehicle’s engine data up to 60 times more often than other GPS fleet tracking systems, providing fleet managers with highly accurate, real-time snapshots of location, entry and exit into virtual perimeters (geofencing), as well as vehicle health, fuel usage, carbon footprint and driver behavior — all accessible through desktops, tablets or cell phones.

Benefits of cloud-based GPS telematics solutions are plentiful and continue to grow. Below are a few of the major benefits that are most likely to affect your bottom line.

1. Opportunities to create social telematics. For the last two years, driver turnover rates have been above 90% for large truckload carriers and more than 30% for small-business drivers, costing companies thousands of dollars a year in hiring and onboarding. Surveys have shown that “organizational climate” and “incentives” are two of the top five reasons for driver turnover. Therefore, a driver-centric fleet-tracking platform is an ideal tool for hiring the best drivers and keeping them.

Social telematics not only aids in increasing overall fleet performance, but also enhances driver loyalty by giving the driver the opportunity to earn rewards and enhance his social profile, benefitting everyone involved.

Like many other industries, GPS companies have continued to drag their feet when it comes to going social. But with the emergence of social media and social sharing, cloud-based GPS technologies now allow fleet drivers and managers to interact with one another — they can share achievements, driver rankings, driver scores or improvements they have achieved on the road.

Social telematics with built-in rewards management capability changes the conversation between a fleet manager and the driver. The conversation can shift from “Big Brother GPS” to driver performance, driver rewards and driver retention.

2. Decrease fuel costs.Advanced fleet-tracking technology truly opens a window of transparency between drivers and managers of any fleet, allowing an accurate read on fuel-guzzling issues such as excessive speeding and breaking, and unauthorized vehicle use. In addition, these devices are capable of offering low fuel alerts, and notifications of where the nearest and cheapest fuel stations are located.

These features result in more accurate feedback for managers and drivers as well as improved efficiency behind the wheel.

3. Saving on maintenance.While vehicle maintenance is considered a premium feature by many providers in the GPS tracking industry, new plug-and-play, cloud-based solutions can give small and medium fleets the benefits that were only previously available to Fortune 1000 companies at almost half the cost.

The technology helps choose the best routes, which saves time, fuel and mileage, ultimately reducing wear and tear on the vehicle. Moreover, a tracking solution ensures vehicles are serviced regularly, which streamlines maintenance processes as well as helps to avoid costly breakdowns.

Traditional open-sky GPS systems track mileage inaccurately and don’t take into account critical factors such as engine run time and engine load factors to advise when maintenance is required. With the new breed of GPS tracking, you can automate your maintenance protocols, prolong the life of your vehicles and avoid downtime from neglected vehicle repairs.

4. Additional benefits:

• Plug-and-play cloud-based hardware installs instantly, within seconds, underneath the vehicle’s dash;

• The system monitors a range of driver behaviors including excessive idling, speeding, hard braking, sudden starts, miles driven and in-cab cell phone use;

• Reduces carbon emissions and lowers fuel consumption;

• Insurance premiums are decreased due to safer driving; and

• The same device can help the customer when new regulations come into effect, be it EPA idling, tax-by-the-mile or OBD-II emissions testing and avoiding trips to the smog station.

Plumbing and mechanical fleet managers who utilize the functionalities of the device will report increased ROI through customer retention, risk reduction, decreased fuel costs, decreased maintenance costs and customer acquisition through referrals from satisfied customers based on the increased speed, reliability and accuracy of their companies’ fleet.