Zubie CEO Gary Tucker has more than 30 years of automotive industry experience. Prior to joining Zubie, he led the growth and exit strategy for DealerRater, resulting in a sale to Cars.com in 2016. He spent more than years as an executive at JD Power, and has held executive positions with GE Capital and American Isuzu. Tucker started in his career in automotive retail spending 10 years leading a dealership.
In the first installment of a wide-ranging interview about the benefits of Zubie for rental operations, Tucker discusses how the company’s solution delivers better transparency and efficiency to its clients and their rental customers.
Keeping vehicles on the road and earning revenue are always hot-button issues with rental operators. How can telematics keep vehicles on the road and maximize profitability?
The way that telematics can generate value for the rental operator around maintenance and uptime is by creating a lot of transparency around the health and diagnostics of the vehicle itself. So, by capturing data from the vehicle such as the odometer reading, we can tie that odometer reading back to specific mileage service intervals and so that they are alerted in real time about the service needs for vehicles in the fleet. And this can be beneficial for cars that are coming off rent, but also cars that might be in a long-term rent situation and are reaching thresholds while they're still out there.
If the fleet operator has the data, they have the opportunity to reach out to that customer and proactively swap that car so the service work can be done. And then for unscheduled maintenance, we're capturing a lot of data from the car around DTCs or fault codes that would typically trigger a check engine light. So, we're not only notifying them that the check engine light is on, but we're alerting them as to why it's on, so they can make a decision around, "Hey, do I need to go get that car back or can I wait for it to be returned on the natural sequence to address that." The issue there is that check engine lights can come on from everything as severe as a fuel control module to a loose gas cap, and understanding not only that it's on, but why it's on gives a lot of information that lets them make a good customer decision about that particular vehicle.
It's just all about providing information around DTC codes, battery voltage, scheduled mileage intervals, and providing that in a way that's easy for them to interpret and act on.
How is telematics helping improve vehicle utilization, and why should rental operators be focusing on this aspect of their operations?
Well, the reason to care about it is because utilization drops right to the bottom line. So, in the rental space, the asset itself is the fixed cost. You pay a fixed amount of money per month to have that Toyota Camry in your fleet. So, every extra day you can rent it, it drops right to your bottom line, hence, the focus and importance of utilization.
For example, the Zubie Rental Connect product helps the utilization performance of the fleet in really a host of ways that all add together to make an impact to the bottom line. And the way we do that, again, is through this notion of transparency, through our dashboard and our platform, letting the fleet operator know at all times what's the status of this particular vehicle. If it's out on rent, the cash register is clicking along for that particular vehicle. If it's not on rent, what is its status? And more importantly, where is it? Is it on our lot? Has it been one of the really valuable use cases for our rental customers, particularly in the franchisee space? Has that car been returned to a corporate location and it's just parked out behind a building somewhere? And maybe it was returned to the body shop across town on Friday night and no one at the body shop has gotten around to calling us yet to let us know if that car is there. Or maybe it's in the impound yard, because the city picked it up in a bad neighborhood and towed it in, and the customer that rented it hasn't alerted us yet that the car has been towed away.
So, through our geofencing and GPS location technology, we can provide real time alerts for every one of those scenarios. So, if one of the cars in my fleet shows up at the body shop across town, it can alert me in my dashboard that, "Hey, vehicle number 123 just showed up at the body shop across town." Now I don't have to wait for that body shop to call me for me to go pick up that car. I can dispatch a team to go get that car and get it back out on rent right away. If the car was towed into an impound yard, we'd geofence all the local impounds, car shows up at the impound yard, we immediately know it's there. We immediately dispatch a team to go get it and we can get that car back on rent, helping the revenue side, but also get it out of storage much more quickly saving on the cost side.
The airport drop-off is a great example for our franchisees. It might be a small market franchisee, customer takes a rental in Athens, Georgia, and drops it off in Atlanta. Knowing that it was dropped off in Atlanta, I can dispatch my guys to go get it, and get it back out on rent. So, every day that we can keep that car available for rent is an opportunity to turn the utilization number upward for our customer, and that's a big part of how we display the information and display the data in the dashboard so that they're always seeing where cars are inactive or off rent.
One of the trends in the market is being able to integrate various business platforms to create a more coherent view of a business operation. That’s something that Zubie brings to the table, but what are the efficiencies that come with this integration?
So, if we think about the integration opportunity, what you're really gaining through the technology integration is the opportunity to impact the operational efficiency of your business. So, if Zubie has a standalone telematics solution, it's going to help you with your utilization, it's going to help you with vehicle location, health, and diagnostic information, all of that value that we talk about still exists without integration.
When you go the extra step of integrating with your counter system [you see some important benefits]. For example, Zubie is now partnering with TSD and we integrate with the TSD platform. The data that's captured in Zubie can be pulled into the counter system in real time. And that, for example, is where the fuel and odometer readings can be really valuable in improving not only the accuracy of your fuel charges over time, but improving your operational efficiency by not having to rely on a person to slide behind the wheel, turn the key on, write down the miles, write down the fuel, and keystroke that somewhere into the system.
So, the integration provides an opportunity for operational efficiency that otherwise doesn't exist, but all of the other geolocation utilization benefits can still be there without the integration.
To request a demo of Zubie's telematics profile, visit the company's website here.