You’ve just installed a GPS tracking system and you now have access to the location of your vehicles. You’re ready to save on operational costs by reducing the occurrences of missing, overdue and stolen vehicles and boost revenues by getting these vehicles back on the road with paying clients and increasing your cash and debit rentals Now what? It is important the return on investment you anticipate, expect and need becomes a reality. Implementing the following procedures into your daily routine will help to ensure you are maximizing your investment’s full potential.
--Log In Every Morning First, always log in to your GPS tracking system upon arrival in the morning. This will ensure it is always available and will become an automatic action to use it as needed. You should not need to worry about overuse of your system; most GPS tracking systems have basic plans that include more than enough usage to cover your needs. When making a purchase decision, make sure you understand what is available and how you will be billed if you use more than your plan offers.
--Understand the Location of Your Fleet After logging in each morning, run a report that identifies the location of your vehicles from the previous evening or the last time each vehicle communicated with the system. This will tell you:
- How many vehicles you have available on your lot(s)
- If any vehicles are out of state
- If a vehicle is in a location it should not be, for example, an impound yard, airport long-term parking or a dealership.
--Investigate Further So you know where your vehicles are. Now what? After reviewing the report, a few items may prompt further investigation:
- For vehicles out of state, are they due back today and won’t make it? Will this jeopardize a confirmed reservation?
- For vehicles at a dealership, are they waiting for pickup?
- Are any vehicles sitting in impound yards or in airport long-term parking? Upon identifying this information, immediate action to pick up your vehicle will enable you to reduce operating costs and get the vehicle to a paying renter.
- Are too many vehicles available at one location, and not enough at another? This view of your fleet will enable you to make fleet adjustments, ensuring your fleet is balanced between location and rental requirements. Answering these questions using your GPS tracking system will enable you to quickly determine vehicles that are not generating revenue and allow you to make an informed decision on how to maximize each vehicle’s revenue potential.
--Identify Overdue Vehicles’ Locations Each day you should generate a report from your rental software that shows the vehicles that are due back but have not been checked in. Check this report against the tracking system’s “location report” you ran that morning. With this information, you can determine:
- Does the last reported address match the address of the rental agreement?
- Is the reported location known to you, i.e. impound yard, long-term airport parking?
- Is the vehicle location showing as “on your lot”?
- Is the vehicle out of the state or country?
This information will guide you in your next steps:
- Do you need to check in vehicles that have been missed?
- Do you need to run the credit card for additional rental days?
- Do you need to pick up a vehicle from a dealership, or long-term airport parking?
- Do you need to gain access to another vehicle to satisfy a booked rental? Each of these items will impact your revenue, utilization and operating costs. Understanding the location of your vehicles will enable you to make valuable decisions about your next steps to ensuring your vehicles are available for “paying renters.”
--Introduce Cash Rental Revenue The topic of cash or debit rentals has always been a little scary. However, introducing a cash rental program can be very lucrative and provide a marketing edge over your competition. Having a credit card on file does provide some sense of security; however, being able to locate your vehicles instantly mitigates your risk with cash or debit customers. You have now rented to a cash customer, and you want to ensure all is fine. Again, the report run each morning will help you determine where your cash rentals are, as well as:
- Does the address match the address provided at the time of rental?
- Is the vehicle still in your area? If you have any concerns on the information provided, you can run an “on-demand locate” to determine the vehicle’s current position.
--Reduce Operational Costs The time spent phoning renters for additional money, looking up renter information and searching for vehicles can be virtually eliminated by incorporating a GPS tracking system into your operation. What might have taken hours previously can now be completed in a matter of minutes. With a location report, your operations staff can now determine:
- The location of overdue vehicles.
- The precise locations to send tow trucks to pick up overdue or stolen vehicles.
- If vehicles need to be moved from one location to another.
- If rental needs will be met by current vehicle availability. Costs for GPS tracking systems have dramatically reduced over the years, and monthly fees have been eliminated in some systems, while messaging volume has increased. With procedures in place and good habits formed, it is possible to “Realize the Maximum ROI” in just months.
Rent-A-Wreck Licensee Upgrades from Starter-Interrupt Devices Mel Morris, a Rent-A-Wreck licensee in Canton, Mich., recently installed a GPS tracking system from Enfotrace in his fleet. He upgraded from starter-interrupt devices, which rely on a code to be inputted once a bill is paid. Without the code, the car shuts off at a pre-programmed time after a grace period. The system could not manually shut down the cars, and without GPS, did not locate them. Therefore Morris had to track down overdue renters or wait until the car got impounded. When an overdue customer called, Rent-A-Wreck would go out and program the car to activate the starter, for a fee, or wait until the customer came in with payment. Now, with the Enfotrace system, Morris says he can be more proactive by locating (“pinging”) any vehicle on a map instantly. The car can be shut off and turned back on remotely at any time. Generally, though, he doesn’t worry about his fleet until vehicles are past due. Morris expects the return on investment will far outweigh the costs. “Before we had any system, I lost quite a few cars,” Morris says. “I’ve had cars to this day that I don’t know what happened to them. These systems pay for themselves, no doubt about it,” he says.
Dealership Rental Agency Gets Peace of Mind Peggy Cowsert runs the rental division of Toyota of Stuart in Stuart, Fla. Though locating stolen vehicles is anyone’s concern, Cowsert implemented the Enfotrace system for other reasons. First, simply knowing the location of an overdue vehicle gives her a leg up when calling the overdue renter. Two, close to 50 percent of her customers are more than 65 years old — if she has not heard from an elderly customer, locating the vehicle is one step to ensuring the customer’s well being. Cowsert can also use the system’s location and boundary notification features to help protect her rentals from being used for criminal activity, and can work with police if a problem occurs. “The [tracking] system is an extra precaution for the few times we need it,” says Cowsert regarding the system. “And the price makes it worthwhile for that peace of mind.”
Road Star Car Rental Minimizes Miles Driven, Loss of Use Road Star Car Rental of Toronto has 80 percent of its fleet installed with Enfotrace units. Road Star offers unlimited miles in the province of Ontario, though that privilege is void when a customer travels outside the province, says Haiven Duong, general manager. Customers sign the agreement acknowledging that they will pay a per-kilometer charge for miles incurred outside of Ontario. Duong checks the program’s “Device Final Location” report each morning to identify rule breakers, who are presented with a satellite photo of the car out of the province limits. “Usually their jaw drops and they pay the charge,” says Duong. Duong says the system also mitigates loss of use. Duong pinged the car of one wayward customer and found it was in a police impound yard. Duong picked up the car the same day and put it back on rent immediately. “If I had not used the tracking system, that car would have been sitting in the pound for five or more days,” says Duong. “I saved a bunch of money and we charged the customer for the trouble.”
Anne Taylor has been in the GPS market for more than 13 years. She can be reached at 1-800-815-3639 ext. 754, or firstname.lastname@example.org.