GPS Insight CEO Rob Donat: Fleet Tracking Solutions Save (Big) Money

Tell us about GPS Insight.

GPS Insight is a commercial and government fleet tracking solution. We help customers to save money by helping them become more efficient, saving fuel from reduced idling, curbing their speeding and odd hour’s usage, and generally making their drivers more accountable.

GPS Insight was founded almost ten years ago. We knew that eventually we would become big enough to accommodate large, multi-thousand unit fleets. We initially had our two and ten and five unit deals but we always kept in mind that eventually we would need to scale and accommodate very large fleets. There is a big difference between your average, every day dots on a map player in this space, which does great for somebody with ten or twelve trucks, and GPS Insight which is able to accommodate a three, four, five thousand unit fleet. There are a lot of reports that are necessary to take care of a fleet that large – a lot of alerts, a lot of administration, a lot of mapping and API requirements that we have really honed our product toward.

We still take care of small fleets, it is still a great product for them but, generally speaking the evolution of GPS Insight has been to accommodate those very large enterprise fleets.

Your product feels extremely visual and quite simple as far as looking at where the fleets are, etc. Could you speak to that a little bit?

GPS Insight is unique in that we have a dashboard which is highly configurable by the end user. Every user can drag and drop whatever it is that they really need to see on a daily basis onto multiple dashboards and then they can pull them up on whichever dashboard they need at that moment. It is highly configurable but it is also very simple out of the gate so you can make it as simple as you like, you can make it as complex as you like.

The interface itself is highly usable and very real time so that helps with the dispatch, but we always have a number of customers that use our APIs which aren’t visual, you don’t see them. It is just our servers talking to their servers; either they are asking us for data or subscribing to it and we send it to them wherever an alert occurs, whenever there is a geo-fence infraction, whenever someone speeds perhaps, or on a nightly basis if they just want a raw data dump of all of their vehicle’s activity.

What is really new and exciting this year that you are telling fleet managers about and what are you hearing from them?

I think one of the biggest things that is changing is fleet managers realize that they really have to have a GPS fleet tracking solution. There has been some hesitance to adopt in prior years and at this point, as evidenced by all of the players at NAFA I&E, it is really becoming a must-have item. I think the shift seems to be that companies are no longer focused so much on absolute price and getting the cheapest, least expensive product, but getting the one that delivers value and the most return on investment.

In terms of technical additions that are coming into most products, there are a lot of diagnostics, a lot of driver behavior type quantification and reporting. In addition to adding those types of capabilities to our products, we also continue to focus on what will save our customers more money. There are a lot of efficiencies, a lot of automation that really is fundamentally the most important thing. Of course, risk and efficiency are great to be able to get your head around and improve with a GPS tracking solution, but ultimately fleet managers want to save money whether they are commercial or government. It is a big ticket item and that is what we really try to strive to help our customers with.

What would you say would be the biggest objection that a fleet manager who needs to install this sort of tracking solution might have and how would you overcome that?

Everybody has their own objection. Of course, different vertical markets have different concerns. Sometimes it is driver response to the Big Brother aspects. A lot of times you can overcome that by saying – we are helping you to prove that you are doing a great job that we know you are. We are helping to make you more efficient so we can all be more profitable, and so that you can hopefully make more money. But on top of that, I would say the other big objection is – I can’t afford to take my vehicles out of service for that long for an install. A typical install is only, perhaps, fifteen to thirty minutes. If you can take your vehicle out of service for about thirty minutes and hopefully over the next year using GPS tracking gain at least multiple hours if not days’ worth of productivity out of that vehicle, I think that is a no-brainer.

Do you have any particular success stories that you would like to share with us?

We have many different success stories. Everything from finding out about bad employees to just simply saving lots of money. One that comes to mind in particular is a large one thousand unit fleet that asked us to help them save money using a new technology that we developed for them in about three days. We started sending their drivers messages every time they left the vehicle on for more than seven minutes. The first day we launched this we sent ten thousand messages to their roughly thousand drivers. They instantly curbed 95 percent of their unnecessarily idling, saving them about $100,000 in fuel costs the first and second month and then beyond that.

In addition to that $100,000, their drivers were doing their job, not sitting in a cab with the air conditioning running. They are getting more efficient, there was less overtime, and there was more customer satisfaction. Ultimately, that customer achieved 1,000 % first year return on investment using GPS Insight. They saved $5,000,000 on a $500,000 investment.

We also have a very large 1200 unit cable company that is national in presence. They wanted to focus on safety so they used reports to help supervisors coach their drivers on how to curb speeding. They took their posted speed violations down by 98 percent within the first year. The byproduct of that was a $500,000 fuel savings. So, by keeping their drivers from speeding relative to the posted speed limit, not only did they make them safer but they saved roughly a half a million dollars, which is about the cost of that product for that customer for the first year.

What are your next steps?

This year, GPS Insight is launching two major, new enhancements to the product. One is we have completely revamped our mapping and made it much better. The new mapping is a huge improvement. It is as real time as it can be, very easy to administer and customize to your exact requirement as an end user.

The second thing that we are adding to the product is a roll-up report which allows you to traverse your hierarchy. You might have several thousand vehicles in all of these different regions, districts, cities, states – whatever you might quantify your vehicles as. We now have a matrix that will allow you to color code whatever it is that is interesting to you from a key performance indicator – a KPI standpoint. If you are interested in idling as a percentage of the total and red is more than three percent, we can give you a nice consolidated way of looking at millions of miles worth of data so that you can just drill down on your hot spots, find your difficulties and fix them.

That will be very customizable by our end customers. If they want to add a metric which is the number of customer visits in minutes relative to the number of vendor visits absolute, that might be really key to their forward profitability. We can help them to quantify that in a quick, easy, drill down manner so they can find costly issues before they turn into a lack of profit.

BIO

Rob Donat
Founder and CEO, GPS Insight

I have 2 boys (13 & 11) and one daughter (7) and my wife and I live in Scottsdale where GPS Insight is headquartered (our 75+ employees are located here, as well as in 1 other office in Chicago and a few home-based locations across the country).

I graduated from the University of Illinois, spent some time on active duty in the Army and then in the Guard as an Artillery Officer, held some high tech, database administration/management jobs, and completed two graduate degrees in Finance and Computer Science at DePaul in Chicago. I started Sedonatech, a consulting company in 2000, and consulted to Hedge Funds and Dot-Com’s for years, eventually moving from Chicago to Scottsdale. At that point, I founded GPS Insight.

rdonat@gpsinsight.com

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