The influx of “no heat” calls and the rise of replacement projects is a clear sign for residential and commercial HVAC contractors that winter is coming. During the winter, HVAC professionals contend with everything from frozen pipes and broken thermostats to clogged heater filters, all while traveling to and from jobs and facing potentially dangerous weather and road conditions along the way. For HVAC businesses, it can be a challenge to dispatch jobs, keep drivers safe and keep tabs on the vehicle health.
Ahead of the winter season, fleet management software can help provide managers with a platform to better assess their individual drivers’ strengths and weaknesses for more hands-on, tailored coaching.
This is where advanced fleet management software comes in. Complete with GPS tracking capabilities, fleet managers can use the technology to monitor their vehicles’ locations in near real time, initiate weather alerts to drivers and make sure that jobs are being completed as efficiently as possible – and it all starts with a plan. With that in mind, see below for three steps fleet managers can take to utilize fleet management software in order to properly prepare their fleet and drivers, and why the technology is worth the investment this winter season.
Step One: Prepare Vehicles
When unpredictable weather hits, the last thing managers should be worrying about is if their vehicles can endure the storm. While there’s no way for an HVAC fleet manager to completely control what happens on the road, GPS tracking technology can help bring them one step closer to a peace of mind with advanced predictive analytics.
GPS tracking technology goes above and beyond manual checks to brakes and tires, it also monitors fuel usage and mileage, which indicates how long a vehicle has been in service and provides alerts for when maintenance is needed. This not only helps boost productivity and time between vehicle maintenance check ups, but also provides fleet managers with increased visibility of individual maintenance issues before the winter season hits and gives them the opportunity to act accordingly.
Step Two: Prepare Drivers
While drivers should always be exhibiting safe driving practices, it is especially important in the winter when icy roads and snow can quickly affect road conditions. Ahead of the season, fleet management software can help provide managers with a platform to better assess their individual drivers’ strengths and weaknesses for more hands-on, tailored coaching. Utilizing the technology’s rich analytics, managers can monitor harsh braking, harsh acceleration, excessive speeding, speeding versus the posted speed limit, and seat belt utilization - all from their offices. Once the data is collected, the software helps determine how to assess an individual’s driving habits with a numerical scoring system, which will permit fleet managers to take extra steps to coach their drivers through unsafe driving behavior. Ultimately, this is helpful for fleet managers to be able to monitor how their contractors and technicians drive when they cannot have eyes on each vehicle, and for the drivers to be as prepared as possible as they face harsh road conditions.
Utilizing the technology’s rich analytics, managers can monitor harsh braking, harsh acceleration, excessive speeding, speeding versus the posted speed limit, and seat belt utilization - all from their offices.
Final Step: Become the Navigator
Today’s fleet manager wears many hats, from tracking job progress and dispatching teams for incoming orders, to scheduling maintenance of business vehicles, but when winter strikes, the job entails more responsibility. With ever-changing road conditions due to winter weather, HVAC contractors may not know what’s in store on the roads. Utilizing GPS tracking technology within fleet management software can provide fleet managers with the ability to play the important role of meteorologist along with their everyday role as navigator.
The technology contains the near-real time location information of all vehicles in their fleet overlaid in the software with traffic and weather condition information, providing a multitude of benefits. During a particularly bad storm, a fleet manager can quickly alert drivers to road conditions while they are on their way to or from a job. This data can also help provide visibility into which roads are plowed, and which ones to route away from with safety and productivity being top of mind.
Overall, companies and drivers who proactively take steps to practice safer driving will be better prepared to take on the winter months. Fleet management technology today can help you keep your contractors and fleets safe this cold-weather season, especially as winters become increasingly unpredictable, no matter the weather forecast.