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GPS / Telematics

January 2013, Business Fleet - Feature

The Power of Data: Changing Driver Behaviors

Technology can help monitor your drivers’ behaviors, but this small fleet puts the data into the drivers’ hands with a friendly peer competition.

by Joanne M. Tucker - Also by this author

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Expanding into commercial services and responding to emergency calls, Sure-Fire Inc. in Wisconsin has to be prepared with a full inventory in each vehicle. This added weight makes each driver’s fuel efficiency a top priority.
Expanding into commercial services and responding to emergency calls, Sure-Fire Inc. in Wisconsin has to be prepared with a full inventory in each vehicle. This added weight makes each driver’s fuel efficiency a top priority.

The power of peer competition can play a strong role in changing behaviors at the workplace, and the same is true for drivers in your fleet.

Sure-Fire Inc., a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) service company in Horicon, Wis., has had telematics for more than four years with different companies. But Sure-Fire’s Risk Manager Casey Malesevich says that what became most effective in achieving those goals is how information from those telematics systems is used to promote friendly competition and open communication.

“Our biggest concern is fuel economy on top of the ability to carry all the weight that we could possibly need at any point,” Malesevich says.

‘Put a Dollar on It’

Since tracking speeding and other driving behaviors with NexTraq beginning in February 2012, Sure-Fire has realized a noticeable decrease in speed alerts. The company has a two-tier system: drivers caught speeding up to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit receive a regular speed alert; greater than 15 miles per hour warrants a severe alert.

Malesevich says the fleet has reduced its severe speed alerts since February by about 50% and regular speed alerts by 25%.

Aside from safety, Malesevich says the reason behind the speed alerts was also to help with fuel economy. But just installing the software is not necessarily what brought the alerts down so quickly. “I am pretty proud of the monthly reporting we do and being open to the employees about the results,” he says. “You put it right in their hands.”

Part of this open reporting is that every driver can see where others stand in their driving alerts. Every quarter Sure-Fire compiles the alerts, and drivers with the lowest ratio of alerts per 100 miles win a small cash prize. “Put a dollar on it,” he says, adding that “no one likes to be on the bottom of the leader board.”

Being Flexible

Sure-Fire was established in 1947 as a family-owned residential service company. But now with a fleet of 20 vehicles, it also provides commercial and electrical services. Because of this growth, Sure-Fire’s fleet needs to fit each job and have all parts on hand as much as possible, which means a fleet consisting of mostly Ford E-Series cargo vans, five Ford F-150s, a Ford Ranger and another handful of Chevrolet and GMC pickups.

A lot of the calls are for emergency repairs. “It’s a constant inventory battle,” Malesevich says. “The ideal is to have every part of every furnace ever made, but that’s just not possible. You would like to know, but you just usually don’t.”

Five of the fleet vehicles are considered spares, being used sometimes in service or for running inventory out to a job. Malesevich says moving into the commercial side of business has forced the company to be more flexible and have a spare vehicle on hand for a new hire. “It’s difficult to predict our labor force,” he says.

The company tries to stay within 25 miles of its office, but has had jobs far enough away to necessitate temporary housing for the workers.

On top of it, Malesevich says not every employee has the same skillset. The dispatcher sends the employee who has the best skills for the job, not who is closest in miles. “You have to be flexible as a smaller company,” he says.


See more articles from the January/February Business Fleet magazine issue here.

You can also view more small fleet profiles at www.businessfleet.com/profiles.

Comments

  1. 1. Robert [ September 23, 2013 @ 07:00AM ]

    I thought this was a great article. As a GPS fleet tracking company ourselves, we have seen the business intelligence that the VirtualFleetSupervisor.com application provides to fleet managers allow them to create policies and make choices which drastically improve their company's bottom line and overall efficiency. Like the example above, incentivizing great driver behavior and turning things into a friendly competition between the driver often has a positive result.

 

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