When a little black box and a computer can save your company money
By Robin Walton, CPA
To hear my husband, sons and brother-in-law describe it, I’m some kind of a control freak.
While it’s true that some accountants simply keep track of the money, I have a vested interest in the bottom line of our construction company and finding waste is one way I can help us all meet our financial goals.
Lately, geography has played a role in my tracking potential financial waste.
We’ve been bidding a lot of jobs out of town, which makes transportation costs an important consideration.
Each job is calculated with a certain number of round trips to complete the contract. Unnecessary trips must be kept at a minimum to maximize our profits. Additionally, our crews are spread out over more area and not everyone is as trustworthy as they could be.
You’d think with jobs being hard to come by, everyone would be on their best behavior, but recently an entire crew found themselves as part of the unemployment statistics for getting creative on their time cards. Our company is not alone.
Employees who show up late, take a long lunch and return to town early (amazingly clocking a full shift) will help themselves to other “fringe benefits” as well.
According to the National Labor Bureau, 5.7 percent of workers engage in moonlighting or side jobs (in service industries the number is even higher).
Not only lost income for your business but also potential of inventory stolen from you when company vehicles are used after hours.
This is enough to keep a financial control freak like me awake at night.
What I need is a way to keep track of our company’s vehicles, and there are a number of companies across the country offering such services. One we are looking at is US Fleet Tracking (USFT).
They offer a variety of devices to give you all kinds of live information with up to 1-second updates (different update speeds available for different subscription rates).
Having an extensive GPS tracking system like this prevents abusive use of company vehicles while helping optimize routes, prevent backtracking, and improve customer response time.
All positive things toward improving a stronger corporate bottom line.
Return on Investment
There are several ways “geotracking” can benefit your company such as cutting back on nonproductive miles saves in fuel costs.
Some USFT customers see significant reduction in fuel consumption right away with an overall decrease of 15 percent in the first few months.
Less nonproductive miles reduces the costs of maintenance (oil changes, tires and repairs). You can even set up maintenance alerting to ensure your vehicles get the right amount of attention in the shop.
One USFT customer, Kirby-Smith Machinery, has had five stolen vehicles in the last couple years, which they recovered within a matter of hours of the notification.
Identifying wasted man hours from vehicle usage data can improve overall productivity as well.
It doesn’t take a control freak accountant to realize guys showing up on time, taking appropriate breaks and leaving the jobsite at a time that actually matches time cards can be a big boost to the bottom line.
Types of Devices
Vehicle tracking services offer a wide range of hardware to track vehicle locations, gather information or send messages to the driver.
USFT devices integrate with Garmin nüvi and dēzl GPS units. They allow you to send and receive messages to and from your drivers from any computer connected to the Internet.
Need a stealthy application? USFT has it covered. They offer tiny, portable, battery-powered units that require no installation and can be fitted in Pelican Case or OtterBox protective covers. An 80-pound pull magnet secures the unit out of sight under the truck.
Alerts and Reports
USFT provides customers with live information from their 100-percent Web-based system, which requires no software installation, so you can access their system 24/7.
The system allows you to set up virtual geo-fences and speed alerts that deliver notification by text and/or email whenever the electronic map barriers are broken.
You can run reports and analyze data, too, which can help you make changes to improve efficiency.
The idling time for vehicles in your fleet and the mileage a vehicle travels in a single day are among the useful reports you can generate using the system.
You can also run reports to help minimize risks to which your employees may expose your business.
For instance, an “aggressive driving” report takes parameters you select – such as a change of 35 mph in less than 10 seconds – to detect if drivers are accelerating normally to get onto the interstate or driving dangerously down city streets.
You can run a speeding report to determine whether a vehicle is traveling at any speed greater than 65 MPH (or whatever speed you choose).
Visit USFT’s website (usft.com) and click on the Live Demo button to see exactly how the GPS system looks while tracking vehicles real-time, or go to our website’s home page to see ProPickup’s Big Red’s location and speed.
Fleet tracking systems like this are designed to let you monitor, control, report and analyze your fleet.
That’s why when money matters, utilizing such electronic tracking tools is a smart move because you can now keep an eye on those areas prone to wasting dollars.
About the author: Robin Walton has been a licensed contractor for more than 20 years and has 16 years of financial accounting and systems experience. With a degree in accounting/economics and hands-on construction experience, she understands the day-to-day business of contractors and landscapers.