Fleet Tracking Buyer’s Guide
The question often comes up “Are fleet tracking devices and service just a commodity and it doesn’t matter who I choose?” Let’s be honest. You are reading this article on a site that sells fleet tracking devices. So, it stands to reason that we would tell you that fleet tracking devices and services are most certainly not a commodity.
So, with honesty established, let’s discuss what is and what is not a commodity in the GPS and fleet tracking industry.
First, you have the GPS tracking devices themselves. These range from vehicle tracking devices to equipment and asset tracking devices (including trailer trackers).
If there is a commoditized portion of the market, this is it. In the world, there are a few manufacturers of GPS chips that every tracking device manufacturer solders onto their silicon boards to make the “guts” of the tracking devices. There is a similar issue with the cellular chips and antennas.
THE DIFFERENCE IN FLEET TRACKING DEVICE MANUFACTURERS
The key difference is in the service and reliability of the manufacturers of GPS tracking devices. Here are some questions to ask when shopping for a GPS tracking device:
WHERE IS THE MANUFACTURER HEADQUARTERED?
Notice I didn’t ask where the tracking devices are actually manufactured. The reason is that, as far as I know, every GPS tracking device manufacturer has manufacturing facilities either owned or by contract in Asia. Most are in China with some in Taiwan.
The important part of the headquarter location is that you, and/or the company from which you purchase your device, has recourse if something goes wrong if the manufacturer is headquartered in the United States. If the manufacturer is headquartered overseas, that is understandably more difficult.
HOW MANY UNITS DOES THE MANUFACTURER HAVE IN CIRCULATION?
This question is ”how many total devices?” This gives you an idea of how long the company has been doing business and also lets you know that they have solved problems if they have a significant installation base.
In our case, our manufacturers have millions of units out in the world.
HOW MANY OF THE UNITS THAT I AM LOOKING TO BUY, ARE IN CIRCULATION?
This is secondary to the question before. Think of each fleet tracking device like a new model of car or truck. Ford or Chevy might produce a new truck that is simply a slight change to the last year’s model or they might revamp the entire line.
GPS tracking devices are ever evolving and can run into issues with new models. Like cars, the first iteration of a revamped device might have more issues than the 2nd or 3rd iteration.
WHAT IS THE WARRANTY?
Almost every manufacturer gives a 1-year warranty. That’s just standard. I can’t think of any that are offering anything more.
THE DIFFERENCE IN FLEET TRACKING SERVICE
This is where differences are the greatest. The software, the cellular network, and the customer service are tops when it comes to selecting a fleet tracking company to help you with your business.
WHAT CELLULAR NETWORKS DO YOU OFFER?
This used to be an easy answer, but it is more difficult now. If you like AT&T, make sure the unit you purchase is 3G compatible. AT&T is reducing their coverage on their 2G networks and will become less reliable in the future.
Beyond that, select the provider you know to work best in the areas your vehicles travel. Keep in mind that GPS tracking requires less bandwidth than a phone call and therefore will work in places where a phone call might be very difficult.
WHAT MAPPING SOFTWARE DO YOU USE?
You can learn a lot about a fleet tracking service company with this question. I will use us as an example. We chose to use Google Maps® for our mapping solution for the simple reason that almost everyone in the world has used it, and is familiar with Google’s mapping software.
For us, this was a customer service choice. If you can use Google Maps®, you are pretty well trained on our software (though we provide free, live training). Global coverage was of great importance too. Others have chosen Bing’s mapping solution and there are others as well. Google is the most expensive of the common mapping solutions.
WHAT ARE YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE HOURS?
If a company is dedicated to your business, you can reach them day or night and on holidays if you have an emergency. And we aren’t talking about an answering service; we are talking about in-house representatives that understand your business and fleet tracking needs.
FEATURES – ASK ABOUT THE FEATURES YOU FEEL WOULD HELP YOU RECLAIM EXPENSES YOU PAY EVERY MONTH.
Maybe the website can help you learn some from a fleet tracking video, but you might need to ask “how can this help my business?” The following conversation will tell you how much the fleet tracking company cares about you and your business.
DO YOU HAVE A MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE?
If they don’t, just keep shopping.
I hope you find this helpful. If fleet tracking is new to you, just ask a lot of questions and tell the sales representatives you speak with about your business. They might tell you ways to improve your business that you haven’t even thought about because they speak to owners like yourself every day.
Best of luck from the Rhino Fleet Tracking Team!