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What vehicle data analytics can do for small businesses

When you buy a vehicle for your business, you aren’t just buying a hunk of metal. You’re buying the thing that’s going to move your people around, keep them safe and keep your customers happy. 

It’s why it’s vital that even if you’ve only got a couple of vehicles, you plan for their long-term efficiency, your drivers’ safety and the way they impact your entire operation. 

Now, you might be thinking you’d need a bunch of complicated tech and fancy maps to really do that planning well. The good news is that none of that tech is out of your reach – and you certainly don’t have to be FedEx to use it. 

The great thing is that with vehicle data analytics can help you have a huge impact on your business by helping you monitor GPS location, driver behavior, fuel consumption, distance traveled and engine health. 

So you can do some pretty big things with all that data. 

Deliver a better customer experience

“I like waiting”, said no customer ever. 

With telematics, you can combine driver location data with other traffic, weather and news sources to inform drivers which roads are congested or how to avoid hazards. 

More important, you coordinate your drivers to do some smart things. Say you’re delivering dry cleaning to your customers and your driver Bill is on his way back to the office. 

Bill won’t know this but your customer Andrew is actually ready to drop something off – and on Bill’s way back to HQ. 

With telematics and a GPS-powered map of the city, you can spot that opportunity, save the fuel cost of going to Andrew’s on a different trip and give Andrew a better experience than he was expecting. 

Another thing you can do is to start telling customers like Andrew when to expect drivers – something that’s impossible to do when you can’t track them. 

Protect your drivers from accidents

Last year, 2.35 million people were injured in car accidents nationally1. Many of these accidents are unavoidable, but data can significantly reduce a drivers’ risk of an accident.

Sensors that monitor risky driving maneuvers – like speed, aggressive driving and idling time – can immediately alert drivers of any dangerous behaviors through voice or audio notifications. 

What’s more, these notifications make drivers conscious of their actions behind the wheel and coach them towards better driving behavior over the long-term.

Road crashes cause more than just physical damage, they cost businesses big time too – $230.6 billion per year, in fact2. So the safer drivers are, the better it is for business too.

You could even set up a small rewards program for the safest drivers to incentivize the right behavior.

Keep your vehicles safe and efficient

A story: a small business owner was worried about his fuel costs. He didn’t understand why but over the last two months of the year or so he’d seen costs rise. 

So he looked at the data. What he realized was that his drivers were idling in the car when they had their morning coffee. It was cold and they needed a place to get going. 

He gave them keys so they could start the day in HQ – and saved a bunch of money. 

These are the insights that make a difference. 

But even beyond the efficiencies on the road, they also help prevent issues that cause unnecessary maintenance. You can see when cars need a check up and improve their performance. Or just spot when erratic driving erodes at the car’s brakes. 

You could even cut down on accident-related costs by, for instance, telling your drivers to get better at reversing (given that in-reverse activities are one of the main causes of accidents). 

Accurately forecast vehicle costs

Collecting data over a sustained period can translate into valuable business insights. Knowing how far a vehicle travels each month can help to estimate fuel costs and how frequently vehicles need tune ups. 

Zooming out, when you can roughly estimate how much you’re spending, it makes business planning much easier.

You can tell how much costs will vary by seasons, what adding a new vehicle would look like and even what different vehicles can do for your business. 

Make strategic data-driven decisions

Vehicle data also acts as a valuable piece of strategic insight. If you can see a majority of your deliveries are in a specific part of the city, for instance, it might be worth several thousand dollars to reorganize your business around that location. Some other useful insights might include:

  • Which jobs take the longest? 
  • Which require the most visits? 
  • How often are vehicles just sat in your car park?
  • What time of day are vehicles in use most?
  • What is the longest delivery we can make without losing money?

All of these are examples of the big and small changes you can make to your small business with vehicle data analytics. They’re all problems worth solving.

And the technology’s mature enough that even the smallest businesses can start solving them. 

This could be the start of something special for you and your drivers.