Geofences Are a Powerful Way to Manage Your Fleet | ClearPathGPS

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Geofence Tracking Features You Need to Improve Your Business

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Draw a GPS Geofence Around Your Assets

A geofence is a location-based technology that works by drawing a virtual or imaginary border around an actual geographic area. (This area can be any size and any shape.) Using tracking technology (such as GPS), the person monitoring a geofence can receive alerts when specific devices or assets enter or leave the geofence area.

Let’s assume your company regularly sends a lot of assets to job sites: trucks, trailers, containers, heavy machinery, etc. With ClearPath’s geofencing feature, you can use an aerial view of the location to literally draw a virtual “geofence” around it, and the app will automatically monitor and record the comings and goings of all your assets there.

Big Value in Little Squares (or Polygons)

Geofences have many practical uses today, and the chances are you’ve encountered them yourself many time.

When you allow the mobile app from your favorite coffee place to “Enable Location Services” on your smartphone, for example, that company adds your device to the geofence it has drawn around that location (as well as its other locations). This is why, when you pass that coffee shop again, you might see an ad or text pop up on your phone offering you a discount if you stop by that day.

Once you start drawing GPS geofences in our app, you’ll find all sorts of ways the tool benefits your company. Use it to automatically monitor the comings and goings of your fleet. From unauthorized, after-hours use of your vehicles, to proof of service, to monitoring “forbidden” locations like bars or clubs. You can have several geofences active in your ClearPathGPS portal at the same time, and you can even color-code them.

Assuming you know the site’s address, cross streets, or coordinates, you should be able to zoom in from a satellite view and draw this geofence in just a few seconds.

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Powerful Geofence Reports & Alerts

Custom geofences automatically log arrival and departure of each vehicle. Reports can be used to audit time cards, provide proof of service, and verify client billings by job site. If you’ve got employees working at a single location for a prolonged period, keeping track of their times at the job site (versus when they’re away for a lunch break, for example) can become a tricky and time-consuming task. Plus, if you’re relying on your employees’ self-reporting on a handwritten time card, that won’t help you with a customer who challenges your invoice’s billable hours.

But with geofences, you can automatically capture and record the moment each vehicle enters and leaves the fenced area. This will help your own team make time card tracking easier and more accurate, and give you documented proof of your employees’ time for billing and SLA purposes.

In fact, you can think of the geofence you set up around a job site as the easy, automated version of having your employees punch in and out.

Also, that same data your geofence is automatically capturing can also help make generating accurate invoices much easier, because you’ll have a detailed report of every moment each of your employees and assets were within the geofence boundary.

Plus, this data can help you answer a customer’s challenge to your invoice with documented proof. Say a customer disagrees that your crew was onsite on a given day for as many hours as your invoice states. You can show that customer your third-party ClearPathGPS geofence report proof, and settle the issue with verifiable evidence.

Geofences Help Protect Your Assets Against Theft

Imagine you know your workers at that job site are just an hour or so into their shift — and you receive an alert that one of your trucks just left the perimeter. Now you can call your staff onsite and ask if someone on the team had to leave for some reason. If they tell you no, everyone’s working, then you might have just discovered a thief took your truck.

There’s also a bonus here, if you’ve got a GPS tracking device on the vehicle. You can immediately locate your stolen vehicle online, monitor its route in real-time, and even let the police know where it’s heading. With the cops in hot pursuit, the thief is far less likely to be able to take your truck to a secure location and begin chopping it up — let alone steal any expensive tools or equipment you have stored in that vehicle. Just like this business owner.

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Geofences Improve Customer Service and Satisfaction

Thanks to the truism that what gets measured gets improved, just knowing your company has geofenced a jobsite—and someone is watching—will encourage your field employees to take their scheduled arrival and departure times more seriously.

This means you can take on jobs with much more confidence that your staff is going to be arriving on time each day for that customer.

And here’s an unexpected way geofences can benefit your customers… Geofences help customers get ready for arriving drivers at the right time – not waste their time during a painful four-hour expected arrival window.

Let’s say your customers want to know when your employees are about to arrive at their site, so they can begin preparing equipment for your tech’s work, or readying a shipment for your driver to pick up.

With a geofence, you can trigger an automatic alert for your team (or your customer directly) as soon as your employee crosses into the area. This can save the customer from preparing too early and waiting around, or having to scramble to get ready as your employee knocks on their door.

This advance notice is great for two reasons. First, it helps make your employees’ time onsite much more productive, because they won’t waste time standing around when they arrive, waiting for the customer to get the site ready for work to begin. Second, it means your customer’s experience will be better — because they’ll always be ready for your arriving drivers.

That can lead to lots of great benefits for your company: customer referrals, better customer reviews for your service, and even repeat business from that customer.

Are Geofences Difficult or Time-Consuming to Create?

Not even close! That’s our final piece of great news about geofences. They’re sort of the opposite of most tricky new technology you need to learn for your business.

If you can draw a square… or a circle, triangle, diamond, or any squiggly shape… you can set up a geofence in about 5 seconds. All you’ll need is some details about the physical location: address, cross streets, lat-and-long coordinates. (Oh, and the ability to draw that squiggly square.)

When you want to create a new geofence around, say, a new job site, you’ll just go into your GPS tracking app, use the map feature to find an aerial view of the location, and draw your geofence boundaries however you’d like. That should take all of a few seconds. When you’re done, you’ll see a colored border around that site. This will be your virtual fence line, and your GPS tracking system will record (and alert the appropriate people on your team) every time one of your assets crosses that line and enters or exits the job site.

Then you can set up rules in your GPS tracking app about what types of data you want recorded, who you want to be alerted about events relating your geofence, etc. That part should take just a minute or so — and you can update those rules online, anywhere, anytime.

Like we said, easy, right?

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Geofences Help Boost Revenue

Here’s another benefit of using geofences, which we think is important enough that it deserves its own section. Using geofence data can actually help your company increase its bottom line.

That’s because the data your geofence tool generates over time can give your team real-world data and analysis that helps you develop smarter bids for jobs, improve your relationships with general contractors and other key partners, and boost revenue.

To see how this works, let’s think about two hypothetical scenarios:

Hypothetical 1: Bidding without real GPS and geofence data from your company’s previous jobs (The “Guess-Wonder-Hope” Strategy)

Let’s say you’re bidding on a construction project, and the GC is looking for timeline estimates. Your company has worked as a sub on similar projects before, so you have strong evidence on how long (in days, weeks, etc.) this one should take. Or… do you? For your employees’ time on each job, you have only their self-reported, handwritten time cards from previous jobs.

Hmm.

You can sort of double check this, because your dispatcher or office manager always makes a note of when your field team leaves in the morning with your vehicles and equipment, and when they bring it all back at night. But still…

Hmm. 

What you don’t have, unfortunately, is actual hard data to tell you exactly how long each of your team members were at these job sites, how long they took for breaks and lunch, and during what percentage of their time onsite they actually had your equipment powered up and operational.

For the rest of that time, were they preparing? Discussing details with the customer? Scrolling through Facebook? Telling jokes?

In other words, you’ll be totally guessing about how long this type of job actually takes your company. Guess too long, and you could turn off the GC. Guess too short, and you’re committing your company to an unachievable goal — and creating an angry GC who probably won’t want to hire you again.

It’s the same story when it comes to your bid’s estimated costs without the benefit of a history of your GPS and geofence data.

For labor? You’ll have to guesstimate based on previous timecards—all self-reported by your employees.

For equipment costs? Who knows how much wear-and-tear your pneumatic blowers or bucket arms are going to sustain on this job, and whether you’re going to have to stop in the middle to service or replace a failing piece of equipment?

Heck, who even knows how many lifetime hours any of these tools have already put in, how many they have left, and what that says about how much you can rely on them for this job?

Bottom line: Without the right type of data, your company risks submitting a bid so high that you miss out on a potentially profitable job… or so low that you actually land a job that turns out to be a money-losing nightmare.

Hypothetical 2:
Bidding
 with GPS and geofence data from your company’s previous jobs (The “We-Got-the-Job-and-it’s-Actually-Profitable!” Approach)

Now imagine you’re about to bid on the same project, but you’ve got data from your GPS tracking app. That service provides you a wealth of ongoing GPS data about your vehicles’ health and performance, your employees’ time in the field, and even the status of your power take-offs, so you can track your total engine hours and equipment health.

That means you can craft a bid around much more accurate assessments of:

  • The number of overall hours your company has spent completing similar projects.
  • The number of hours your employees actually spend onsite during such jobs — onsite as opposed to, say, on their lunch breaks, or traveling to and from the job site each day.
  • The actual number of hours each of your vehicles’ engines spend operational during such jobs: daily, weekly, or over the entire course of the project.

What this means, of course, is that with the right tracking solution, you’ll be in a much stronger position to use the GPS and geofence data you’ve collected to bid effectively for jobs.

It also means that because your estimates will be based on real data and analysis — as opposed to the “guess-wonder-hope” approach — your company will also be better positioned to deliver on your bids’ promises. That will not only delight the end customers but will also strengthen your standing with the general contractors who represent the lifeblood of your business.

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