A Technology Solution with an Immediate Payoff

Chris Ransom

Director of Sales Engineering, Networkfleet

Tell us about Net­work­fleet. What is the focus of your busi­ness right now?

We help fleets man­age their busi­ness­es bet­ter. That is in essence what we do. We design and man­u­fac­ture our own hard­ware as well as have all of the depart­ments that you might imag­ine — mar­ket­ing, sales, return autho­riza­tions, cus­tomer care. The end goal is to bring solu­tions to our cus­tomers; fleets of all types, com­mer­cial, pri­vate, pub­lic —  all over the Unit­ed States. To bring them a solu­tion that will help them save on fuel, will help them reduce costs, will help them dri­ve few­er miles, will help their vehi­cles run bet­ter and more effi­cient­ly and ulti­mate­ly save them mon­ey. We help them to be more effi­cient to bring con­sumers like you and me a bet­ter prod­uct for a low­er price.

What sorts of chal­lenges are you hear­ing from fleets? What are their con­cerns?

The same chal­lenges that many busi­ness­es face. They need to be more effi­cient. They need to do more with less. We have had tough eco­nom­ic times for the past sev­er­al years so we have a sce­nario where they need to pay less on fuel, less on labor, less on main­te­nance, less on vehi­cles in gen­er­al. They need to do a bet­ter job run­ning their busi­ness; become more effi­cient at doing their jobs because they have less busi­ness and because there is less mon­ey to go around in gen­er­al. So, the main goal real­ly is to increase effi­cien­cy. You can increase effi­cien­cy in a num­ber of ways. You can reduce the amount of fuel you use, dri­ve few­er miles or just be more effi­cient with how you work.

What are some of the solu­tions that you are bring­ing to fleets?

We have a tech­nol­o­gy solu­tion. Net­work­fleet is a tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny at heart. That said, we are a total full ser­vice com­pa­ny from con­sult­ing to soft­ware to hard­ware. In fact, we man­u­fac­ture and design our own hard­ware and soft­ware; one of the only com­pa­nies to do both. The rea­son we do that is for qual­i­ty con­trol to make sure that we can bring the top qual­i­ty hard­ware and soft­ware to our cus­tomer. In the end, a cus­tomer gets a piece of hard­ware to put in their vehi­cles that con­nects over the air — wire­less­ly — to the Inter­net to our soft­ware. They use our soft­ware and report­ing and alert­ing and oth­er things to man­age their fleet. To under­stand how fast they are going, how much they idle, where they are going, how many jobs are com­plet­ed, how their vehi­cles are uti­lized and any num­ber of oth­er things that will help them deter­mine how their busi­ness is being run in regards to their fleet.

Do you have any sense of the cost sav­ings a fleet can antic­i­pate by using a pro­gram like yours?

Absolute­ly. First of all it is an across-the-board sav­ings so every­body sees it whether they are run­ning reports or not. Dri­vers ulti­mate­ly know that there is a new piece of hard­ware in their vehi­cle and that it is report­ing infor­ma­tion back to their man­agers and oth­er peo­ple. You get an imme­di­ate cost sav­ings just by bet­ter dri­ver behav­ior. In the end, if peo­ple man­age their sys­tem well using Net­work­fleet and the dri­vers know it is hap­pen­ing and they are being coached, you are talk­ing a fuel sav­ings of 10%-30%. You are talk­ing labor cost sav­ings or increased effi­cien­cy of 15%-50%. You might be able to do one or two more jobs, so 15%-20% increase in rev­enue if you are a rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fleet. You are talk­ing few­er vehi­cles, so a fleet uti­liza­tion sav­ings of 5%-20% is pos­si­ble. Real sav­ings, real hard core sav­ings across the board with fuel, effi­cien­cy, uti­liza­tion, main­te­nance, assur­ance and a num­ber of oth­er places.

Do you have a suc­cess sto­ry that you want to tell us about?

I would love to, we have many. One I will tell you about is the East­ern Munic­i­pal Water Dis­trict. They are a pub­lic agency in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia and they use a lot of work trucks. They use a lot of big heavy duty equip­ment as well as vehi­cles like Ford F-150s. They saved $700,000 a year in effi­cien­cy from labor and increased work orders. They were doing X num­ber of work orders before they start­ed using Net­work­fleet. How­ev­er, they were doing many, many more after they got Net­work­fleet. Why? The dri­vers become more effi­cient, and with that, they were able to cut their over­time and the sav­ings end­ed up being $700,000 and that is on top of the fuel sav­ings they had as well. They saved 140,000 gal­lons of fuel in one year. When they first installed Net­work­fleet, fuel was about $3.00 a gal­lon. Now it is about $3.75 in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. So you can imag­ine 140,000 at $3.75 — that is a lot of mon­ey!

What kind of response have you got­ten from the dri­vers?

You know, it is inter­est­ing that you ask that because ini­tial­ly most of the time it is neg­a­tive. GPS is still in its sort of infant stages so you still don’t have a lot of peo­ple that know about it. Even dri­vers that hear about it are all still sort of neg­a­tive, right? So, you get a lot of the neg­a­tive but it almost always turns pos­i­tive. The rea­son it turns is because good busi­ness­es incen­tivize their dri­vers. They coach their dri­vers. They don’t pun­ish their dri­vers. They say lis­ten, it is our best inter­est, it is your best inter­est for you to go slow­er, to idle less. It is more job secu­ri­ty; we are going to be a bet­ter com­pa­ny. In the end, employ­ees want to buy into that,  includ­ing dri­vers. That is on top of the exon­er­a­tion. All com­pa­nies receive complaints…your dri­ver was going too fast in a school zone or if they cause an acci­dent. When they find out that most of the time there is an exon­er­a­tion there, the dri­ver real­ly wasn’t going too fast or wasn’t even in the area for that mat­ter, dri­vers real­ly start to buy in at that point.

In the end, peo­ple want to be bet­ter at what they do. They want their busi­ness­es to be bet­ter at what they do even if they are a dri­ver. In the end, they come around and it doesn’t take that long either.

What is your assess­ment of the indus­try?

All inno­va­tions: The spoon, sliced bread, the cell phone, radio and TV all go through a stage — the ear­ly adopter stage. The first 20% of cus­tomers that buy — it takes a long time, too — ten, twelve, fif­teen years where it is all the new­bies buy­ing, right? Then they have to tell their friends whether it is good or bad and after that, the indus­try either fails or dies or peo­ple start begin­ning to buy very quick­ly. The curve sort of looks like an “S” right, it starts sort of slow and then it gets fast real­ly quick­ly. That is where we are right now; we are at the bot­tom of an S. We are at the end of the ear­ly adop­tion stage. The last ten or twelve years there have been enough peo­ple that have bought; we are at 20% pen­e­tra­tion rate now but the word is out. GPS, telem­at­ics is extreme­ly valu­able. Their return on invest­ment is there and Net­work­fleet as well as com­pa­nies in our space are see­ing that rapid increased growth. Hav­ing to build and design soft­ware, hard­ware, sales peo­ple, and process­es to han­dle that sort of growth, which is what we are see­ing now. I think busi­ness­es and fleets under­stand that this indus­try is grow­ing quick­ly

And your sense of where the econ­o­my is going?

The econ­o­my is going up but it hasn’t hurt most of the com­pa­nies in our space the last few years. Net­work­fleet has had record years in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and we expect that here again in 2012. It is not just about the econ­o­my, it is about the fact that peo­ple know they can save mon­ey using tech­nol­o­gy like telem­at­ics. Even though the econ­o­my is get­ting bet­ter, it doesn’t real­ly mat­ter because we have been econ­o­my proof the last sev­er­al years and I think it will con­tin­ue that way, which can only help folks like Net­work­fleet.

BIO

Chris Ran­som, Direc­tor of Sales Engi­neer­ing
[email protected]

Chris Ran­som is the Direc­tor of Sales Engi­neer­ing for Net­work­fleet, Inc. In this role, he is respon­si­ble for work­ing with com­mer­cial and pub­lic fleets to under­stand their oper­a­tions and how they fit with Networkfleet’s capa­bil­i­ties.

In his five years with Net­work­fleet, Chris has spear­head­ed the organization’s efforts in the clean tech­nol­o­gy are­na by work­ing with its part­ners to quan­ti­fy the clean air ben­e­fits of Net­work­fleet. Through part­ner­ships with nation­al, state, and local clean air agen­cies like the Unit­ed States Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Qual­i­ty Man­age­ment Dis­trict, and Neva­da DMV, Net­work­fleet has become a lead­ing telem­at­ics tool used by fleets to reduce green­house gas emis­sions. He has also worked with hun­dreds of fleets across the Unit­ed States in order to merge their needs with Networkfleet’s tech­nol­o­gy roadmap. Chris has spo­ken at dozen of events and is rec­og­nized as an indus­try leader in fleet telem­at­ics.

Before join­ing Net­work­fleet, Chris worked for tech­nol­o­gy con­sult­ing com­pa­nies like SAIC, Accen­ture, and Gart­ner Group as an indus­try expert where he assist­ed com­pa­nies of all sizes with strate­gic ini­tia­tives. He was also the Direc­tor of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment for the tele­com soft­ware start­up, Cygent.

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