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GPS tracking helps FM businesses maintain good reputation

13 July 2015

Managing a fleet can be onerous. GPS tracking systems can offer valuable assistance in keeping the fleet under control.

As with most of the UK economy the FM sector is feeling the squeeze. Their clients are demanding better service, more cost effective delivery and greater accountability.

For many companies operating in this competitive sector, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, managing a fleet can be onerous, says Derek Bryan, European sales director of Fleetmatic. “GPS tracking systems can offer valuable assistance in keeping the fleet under control.”

Bryan says a testament to this is Liverpool-based Taylored FM, an expanding company aiming to ‘provide an efficient, cost effective and rapid response service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week’.

“We only have a small fleet, but it is useful to know where engineers are if we get emergency calls that need a quick response,” says Paul Kelly at Taylored FM. “With the GPS tracking system we can allocate calls in a more logistical way, meaning engineers can respond to emergency calls quicker, thus helping us live up to our customer service credentials.”

Bryan notes that another key challenge that GPS tracking can help FM firms address is compliance with international accreditation requirements including ISO 9000 on quality management and ISO 14000 on environmental management.

“As part of our ISO accreditations we have to prove we’re managing fuel consumption, emissions and driving styles, and our GPS tracking system helps us to check that our drivers are following company policy,” says Paul Kelly.

Heatcare Oil & Gas, a Merseyside-based service, maintenance and installation ?rm is another company that has seen a vast improvement in driving behaviour since adopting GPS tracking. “All our vehicles are branded, so it’s important our engineers are complying with the speed limits and rules of the road as they’re representing the company,” says Darren McLeod, director of Heatcare Oil & Gas.

“Our GPS tracking system monitors and alerts me to excessive idling times, use of the vehicles out of hours and speeding violations, which can then be dealt with quickly and effectively. Keeping a close eye on each vehicle’s activities has also helped the company save a great deal on fuel costs.”

Enhancing productivity and customer service
Bryan notes that to stay competitive in the FM market, maintaining high productivity levels is crucial. One way of achieving this result is to adopt GPS tracking.

B&K Boilers Services is a privately owned, family-run business based in Blackwater, near Camberley in Surrey. The boiler services company has been trading since 1983 and their 18 engineers cover Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hants and Surrey.

Company owner Mark Worthington says before fitting a GPS monitoring solution, each engineer used to call into the main office after each job had been completed before moving on to the next job. “As each engineer can complete up to 10 jobs every day, that’s a lot of calls to answer in a week,” Worthington explains. “The sheer volume of calls meant we had at least one member of staff working full time managing calls and the diary.”

Another key challenge was to provide customers with precise information with regards to an engineer’s arrival time. “As we didn’t know the exact location of each van on the road, we were unable to accurately predict when the engineer would arrive at the next job and scheduling in emergency jobs was a nightmare. As a result, we were weakening the standard of service we aim to provide.”

Since turning to the GPS tracking, Worthington reports, the scheduling of jobs has become very efficient and effective, and he can better manage his engineers. “Previously, the average number of jobs completed by an engineer was between eight and nine jobs a day, it’s now between nine and ten – the GPS system has paid for itself 10 times over,” he explains.

Gaining insight into the location of its fleet of 100 vehicles was a problem that concerned Ian Kennedy, head of maintenance at Paradigm Housing Association, which manages thousands of properties in the southeast. The company’s aim to excel in customer service was being hampered by this poor visibility.

“Efficient scheduling of the vehicles was virtually impossible for the fleet manager,” Kennedy explains. “We knew by installing a fleet management solution the fleet manager would have location visibility of each van and hoped that this would help improve our customer service.”

“GPS tracking has definitely helped improve customer service,” he adds. “For example, being able to give the expected arrival time of an operative to a tenant is really helpful. We can also accurately distribute jobs to our operatives and ensure everyone is running to schedule.”

Unexpected benefits
It is not just the expected improvement that can be garnered from the system. Sometimes there are also unexpected benefits. “One occasion, in particular, springs to mind,” comments Paul at Taylored FM explains. “Our van was in the garage for service and testing. Part of the work required that the van was road tested, but we could see our van had not been moved from the garage! A strong complaint to the garage followed.

“We can also tell when drivers are exceeding speed limits and emails are sent to their mobiles. One driver complained about the emails and ‘beeps’ on his phone all the time so he was told to stop speeding and he would not get them. Drivers are driving more safely and economically in general.”

All the testimonies presented in this article demonstrate GPS tracking can be a great fit for companies working in the UK FM sector, says Bryan. To be competitive in this crowded market, ensuring high efficiency, productivity and customer service standards is essential and GPS tracking systems can play a key role in helping FMs meet customers’ expectations. 

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