White Paper: How to Choose a GPS Tracking Vendor
You are in the market for GPS tracking and you don’t know where to start. It’s an investment and you want to choose the right company to work with. You conduct a search and you see that there are so many choices. How do you pick the right supplier for your company? It is our approach to educate our consumers and indicate to them their best course of action, whether it be partnering with our company or another company more suited to their specific needs. For many in the industry, the sales process is not so transparent and can lead to wrong decisions, long term unnecessary costs and less than optimal results. In this paper we are going to provide you insight into two distinct industry profiles, the available technology and specific questions you should be asking when determining which vendor to choose. We sincerely want you to find the best fit for your company no matter which vendor meets your requirements.
Always start the process with a clear objective in mind. From that objective outline the functionality you would need to meet that clear objective. For instance, if you are a large trucking company and you have legal requirements that must be met then electronic logs integration may be a necessity. If you’re a landscaping company, and you’re a working owner, you may require good historical data, a system of alerts to keep you abreast of important daily events and map replay so you can view an historical bread crumb trail of what your drivers did on any given day. This provides you the tools you need to effectively manage your business.
If you want standard tracking, then please know that there is wide variation in what each company offers as standard tracking. Ask for a list of items that standard tracking includes and ensure that you are provided the ability to view a demo of the interface prior to making a decision. Know that some companies provide all functionality under the basic plan at a much higher price point while others provide very little functionality using other enticements to gain your business. The question you have to ask is, “does this platform meet my company’s specific needs?” Your objective should be to get the tracking functionality you need, the support you desire and the price point that provides the most value for what is being offered. And know that support is a critical factor that can mean the difference between a highly simple, cost effective experience to a highly frustrating, cost prohibitive experience. Know what you need and do your homework.
There really are 2 main profiles in this industry that you should be aware of. The first is the company that has recently introduced its product to this market with a less than stellar interface preying on consumers that believe everyone has the same basic functionality. Let’s be clear, that could not be further from the truth. Besides having very little experience in this industry, many have paid third party development companies to adopt their generic and less than stellar applications so they can quickly enter this market. The offering of these companies is weak and diluted and will be a disappointment to those lured by the belief that everyone sells the same product.
Also, many are selling hardware that is not carrier certified, likely made overseas with little in terms of guarantees or warranties. Believe me, hardware developed overseas without carrier certification can be a gamble. Besides the obvious quality concerns, the entire industry is talking about not allowing data delivery access to companies that are not using certified GPS units. Purchase with these companies and risk working with an obsolete process in the near future. Bottom line if the company has no certification and offers no guarantees and warranties they are far beyond the normal risk to work with.
If you are purchasing 10 or more units does the company offer a free trial period allowing you to evaluate the hardware and test the system to see if it meets your needs prior to making such a significant investment? This is important even if you don’t plan on taking advantage of this free pilot. It demonstrates confidence by the company in its product and allows the potential buyer proper evaluation leading to better decisions.
Finally, does the company have a strong support system and is their support stationed here in the United States? Support is critical for any software interface. It can mean the difference between an easy transition with a stellar product or a frustrating experience with a product that fails to pay dividends. If the company you are considering does not have a service department contact page or problem submission page then you know they are likely offering poor service, if any service at all. If they seem to have proper support infrastructure set-up -- then test them. A good way to check their service capabilities and customer focus is to call, arbitrarily, and see if you get an answer. Have a standard question ready such as; “are your GPS units carrier certified and does your company work with a reputable manufacturer?” Ask them about their service hours and whether or not they provide one on one attention. Do they offer training and how does their training process work? If you get the run around then you know immediately what your experience will be like if you decide to contract with this company. Don’t be fooled by the sales process where the sales representative gives you all the attention you need and more. It pays to know what happens after the sales process. Check on their support system before becoming a customer.
Each of these factors is available with credible companies that believe in their product. They stand behind their product and they value their customers.
The next profile that you will likely be exposed to in your research is the industry leader. These are normally reputable companies with competent systems in place. But don’t be fooled. They are not all made equal and some utilize the same ploys of the substandard competition as noted above. Many times their monthly costs are significantly higher. They offer a lot of functionality at these prices but if you are only in the market for standard GPS tracking then ask yourself -- can you really afford to pay this much for functionality that you will likely not be using? Know the monthly price per vehicle and know the functionality you are getting before signing on the dotted line. Do not pay exorbitant prices for functionality that is not in alignment with your company needs.
Also just because they are industry leaders does not mean they have a strong support system. Check on their support process. Give them a cold call and test them with pre planned questions. It is likely these companies will provide you unlimited attention during the sales process but that does not necessarily hold true for the support process. Take a few minutes and check on their service. It will likely save you hours in time and frustration down the road. Industry leader does not translate automatically into top service provider.
Know your costs. The 3 standard costs in this industry are the unit cost, the monthly cost per vehicle and the one time activation fee. Your monthly fees are the ones that add up. Always verify what your monthly fees are and how long your contract period is. Avoid getting locked down for extended contract periods in a system that provides less than optimal value for the money you’re paying. If the contract period is extended to more than one year ask what you are getting in return for this extended contract period. Do you get an extended warranty on the equipment? Does it lock in the agreed upon fees for that period of time? And most important are you paying a fair price for fair value in return for this extended contract period? You don’t want to become a victim of a company that woos you during the sales process and sells you on paying excessive monthly fees over an extended contract period only to find out that once the contract is signed they are not easy to deal with. And you don’t want to find out after you are fully committed contractually that you only need and use 50% of what they provide in this package. That is not value.
Know your contract terms. Some in the industry offer what is referred to as Evergreen contracts for up to 3 years in length. At the end of the 3 years if you decide you do not want to renew the service agreement, for whatever reason, you must contact the company and follow their procedure for stopping the service. If you don’t follow proper protocol for stopping the service, you can be forced, by contract, to extend the unwanted service for another 3 years. Be careful. Ask each vendor if they use Evergreen contracts.
All long contract periods are not necessarily bad. Assuming you have done your homework, extended contracts can be advantageous when you are locked into favorable terms and you are provided functionality and service that are in alignment with your company goals. That can be a good thing. You have a trusted vendor working for your best interest long term -- with provisions that you feel are fair. Know the difference. Your decision must be value based and not determined by a pressured sales approach or “perception” that this is an industry leader that must offer a reputable service.
There are some in the industry that use installation as a primary carrot alluring potential customers into longer, more expensive contracts. It seems appealing when you know that they will take care of everything, including installation. You don’t have to lift a finger. Sure installation is an unknown to those that are beginning their research. Whether a company offers installation or not should not be a primary determinant in your decision making process. These units are easy to install for anyone that is mechanically capable. All that is needed is a good set of instructions and the ability to call support with any questions about the installation process. “Any” reputable mechanic can do this install. It’s similar to installing a car radio. There are normally 3 wires involved -- Ignition, power and ground. Connect those 3 wires, go through a simple diagnostics process and you are done. Do not allow the allure of “we handle everything, including installation” to entice you into a long, expensive contract where you are paying for functionality that does not serve your business needs. Do your homework. It’s not a cumbersome process when you know what you are looking for.
In conclusion it’s key to note that the variability in sales approach, quality, functionality and service in this industry is wide. You can’t assume that all GPS tracking companies have the same capabilities and approaches. Get a clear understanding of your objective. Be aware of the different company profiles in the industry. Ask the proper questions and do your homework ensuring you get the best deal for your company.
We at Track Your Truck do our best to make that process easy and painless. Ask us any question and we will provide you the truthful answer. We know that our business grows by partnering with those that can benefit by what we offer. To us the game is not about sales -- it’s about honesty, quality and service in everything we do and that includes directing potential suitors to other solutions if we are not a good fit. Good luck in your pursuit of a “quality” GPS tracking system.
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