Search form

Cellphone Versus Vehicle-Installed GPS Tracking

06/26/2020

Dozens of industries trust field employees every day to make deliveries, service customers at their homes or businesses, or work across multiple job sites — sometimes all of the above. Vehicle tracking is the way to keep these remote employees accountable and keep business trucking along, but which is a better form of GPS tracking: cellphone or vehicle-based?

While cellphone tracking jumps out as the cheaper and more turnkey solution ("Isn't there an app for that?"), it lacks the features that are at the core of why you would track your fleet in the first place.

Explore the pros and cons of vehicle GPS trackers versus cellphone tracking to see which fits your business needs and bottom line.

Vehicle or Phone GPS: Which Technology Is Best for Your Budget?

To determine if GPS tracking versus cellphone tracking is better for your bottom line, you must first understand how these technologies work:

  • Cellphone GPS systems: Cellphone systems rely on apps your drivers, delivery personnel and field reps download on their phones. These apps come in several forms — such as mobile workforce management software — yet all rely on a steady cellular connection to function. They can track only a phone's location, and they won't work if the phone is turned off or dead.
  • Fleet GPS systems: Vehicle-based GPS systems are powered by vehicle batteries, meaning they carry far less risk of having battery issues compared to cellphones. What's more, the systems don't rely on a cellphone to operate. These two characteristics are especially imperative for dependability as the fleet manager does not have to rely on the driver to have the cellphone on and charged.

Even today, many people assume cellphone tracking and vehicle-tracking technology are interchangeable. They're not. GPS trackers inside vehicles are more advanced devices containing a suite of features that a cellphone GPS simply can't match — that is, without installing add-on devices like vehicle sensors, antennas and backup batteries that mirror vehicle-based trackers.

Disadvantages of Cellphone GPS Tracking Systems

Opting for cellphone GPS systems for fleet management comes with a few challenges to consider, including:

  • Privacy concerns: Employees may find a cellphone-based tracker to be more of an infringement than a GPS placed in a company vehicle. Security concerns surrounding a tracker deployed within a device they constantly carry — and keep in their own homes — makes pitching pure cellphone-based systems difficult.
  • A lack of features: A phone's GPS permits the use of mobile time cards, allowing your employees to autonomously "clock in" and "clock out" while you track total routes. What phone GPS systems don't allow are more robust fleet management features, including speed monitoring, fuel usage tracking, route optimization, vehicle maintenance projections, fleet utilization information and emergency notifications. This lack of relevant fleet management tools means fewer communications with your field personnel, plus the inability to optimize your operations based on fleet data.
  • Less information: When it comes to GPS systems, you get what you pay for. Cellphone app trackers have less visibility, less accountability and fewer features to take advantage of. Opting for them over broader fleet telematics technology will inhibit your collection of rich data that can lead to more profitable fleet management. Put plainly, you cannot expect the same degree of operational advancements with a low-cost phone-based system.
  • Lost or damaged phones: Cellphones are much more likely to be lost, stolen or burdened with performance glitches. Using a phone-based tracking system is, therefore, contingent on employees keeping their phones fully charged and on them at all times, plus enabling the tracking feature.
  • Lack of reliable remote-area tracking: While both cellphone GPS tracking systems and vehicle-installed GPS systems rely on cellular network coverage, cellphones are much less reliable in remote areas where coverage might go out. Unlike cellphone trackers, both cellular-based and satellite-based in-vehicle systems will store information when out of coverage range to ensure that data isn't lost. This data includes GPS messages and Key On/Off events. When the GPS tracker returns to an area with cellular coverage, the data is sent to the system.
  • Many vehicle GPS solutions already come with apps: Though phone apps are cheaper upfront, many businesses don't realize they can "double-dip" with a full fleet telematics suite that includes vehicle trackers — meaning they receive both in-vehicle units plus a mobile app to integrate with larger fleet management software. This solution provides a one-two punch assuring continual communication, accountability and information exchanges between home base and remote staff. What's more, this setup means managers can check into the fleet management platform from their own cellphones, yet have access to far more information than any pure phone-based tracker could provide.

Understand your organization's main reasons for needing a GPS tracking system in the first place. Do you just want to make sure employees are where they need to be? Or are you interested in a diverse and multifaceted piece of technology to improve end-to-end fleet management? Knowing the real value required from a GPS will help you select the most appropriate system.

Return on Investment From Vehicle-Installed GPS Tracking

Overall, vehicle-installed GPS tracking provides more value based on its 24/7 reliability and richer variety of features. In fact, vehicle-based GPS trackers with integrated fleet management tools actually generate a much higher return on investment, with numerous ways for administrators to calculate their system's exact ROI. Doing so supports the business case for picking a vehicle-installed system in the first place. What's more, only vehicle-based fleet tracking has the features necessary to increase your business' revenue. They do so through:

  • Enhanced productivity, tracking time spent on job sites and setting reasonable expectations for employee productivity.
  • Better scheduling, using job-site time averages to revamp how you schedule field personnel, client appointments, home visits and other remote staff work.
  • Increased site visits, making the most of your newly optimized schedule to serve the most clients or customers.
  • Accurate ETAs, taking the guesswork out of the equation for both your employees and the customers they're serving. Prompt, on-time appointments boost customer satisfaction and, in turn, brand reputation.
  • Real-time alerts, notifying field reps of any changes to a job site, task, route or schedule, all while removing the danger of reps having to use their cellphones while driving to receive such alerts.
  • More completed jobs, which means more revenue in your pocket.
  • A true win-win, with GPS fleet tracking cutting overhead expenses like fleet fuel costs while simultaneously maximizing your appointments and, therefore, profits.

Unlock Fleet Intelligence With Track Your Truck

Track Your Truck's GPS systems offer an innovative and diverse suite of vehicle-installed devices to make managing your fleet easier. Try out any of our vehicle GPS tracking devices with a free demo.

Get A Free Quote