When your company revolves around mobile assets and mobile workers, tracking equipment and people quickly becomes a priority.
And when you’re battling criminals who’re trying to turn a quick profit by stealing your vehicles, tracking becomes an even more pressing need.
Acres Group, a 29-year-old landscape services enterprise based in Illinois, found itself searching for a GPS-based fleet tracking solution a few years ago when the company was bleeding money due to asset theft. The company employs roughly 600 workers—300 of whom are drivers—and operates a fleet of 300 vehicles. It largely provides landscaping maintenance and snow removal services.
Jeff Dumas, vice president of Acres Group North, says his company leases space for its trucks in the towns it serves. “We were having problems with someone stealing our trucks, emptying the equipment out, and then abandoning the vehicle,” he explains. “We had lost in excess of $60,000 of equipment two years in a row.”
Eager to prevent the financial losses from creeping above that $120,000 number, Dumas investigated the NexTraq’s Fleet Tracking platform, which is a cloud-based application that uses GPS to help fleet managers optimize their vehicles’ performance and reduce costs.
Acres Group signed on with NexTraq specifically to prevent the vehicle thefts, says Dumas, and the impact has been significant. “We’ve only had one incident since using NexTraq and we were able to recover the vehicle and save $30,000,” Dumas adds.
The NexTraq application sends alerts when vehicles are in motion outside of specific preset times. “If a truck moves before or after a certain time in the morning and at night, I get a text alert and can notify the manager and then call the authorities,” says Dumas. “We could be online looking at our NexTraq dashboard and see where the truck was going."
Dumas says he appreciates the many features and functionalities of the NexTraq platform—especially that Acres Group could choose to go live on only certain features instead of using every functionality right away. Once the company saw the value that the alerts provided, Dumas turned his attention to speed alerts.
“Speeding was never a big problem for us; we didn’t have our drivers getting a lot of tickets,” explains Dumas. “There were a handful that were occasionally going over the limit. Just by having reports generated automatically, we could go to that driver and say, ‘you’re over limit.’ We rarely get anyone exceeding the limit, but having this feature is a nice little bonus.”
Fleet managers get far fewer speed notifications these days; alerts have dropped by 92% since Acres Group started using the feature.
Enforcing speed limits helps Acres Group optimize fuel efficiency—and so do NexTraq’s idle time reports. Since monitoring those reports and implementing other programs, the company has reduced its fleetwide fuel consumption, which saves quite a bit with gas at $4 per gallon.
Heading into the winter season, Acres Group will be using the NexTraq Fleet Dispatch application on some of its vehicles to streamline communication between drivers and offices. Vehicles are equipped with a mounted Garmin GPS unit with routes preloaded. “Our crew goes on same routes every week so we don’t really need routing,” explains Dumas.
“We feel we’ve gotten a return on our investment,” Dumas adds.