When considering telematics adoption, medium- and large-size commercial fleets have very different needs. Certain needs may be critical to medium-size fleets that larger fleets may not even bat an eyelash at.
Let's take a closer look. In a recent Automotive Fleet telematics survey, medium fleets (100-399 vehicles) cited four major areas that they wanted to improve by implementing telematics. In order, they are:
- Improve productivity (50 percent)
- Decrease fuel consumption (45 percent)
- Improve vehicle maintenance (43 percent)
- Decrease accidents (28 percent)
Larger commercial fleets (400 or more vehicles) cited the same key areas that medium-size fleets did, although in a different order:
- Decrease fuel consumption (75 percent)
- Decrease accidents (73 percent)
- Improve vehicle maintenance (65 percent)
- Improve productivity (58 percent)
This data suggests that larger commercial fleets plan on using telematics to more directly reduce operating expenses by cutting down on measurable business expenses. Medium-size fleets on the other hand are looking for telematics to provide a wider scope of benefit that makes managing their fleet easier overall, not just reducing specific expenses.
It is likely that larger fleets already have programs in place to maximize routing, schedule vehicle maintenance, and accurately bill payroll as these issues have to be addressed when a fleet business expands. Mid-size fleets are less likely to have these systems in place and are therefore looking to telematics to provide comprehensive improvements in fleet management in areas outside of directly reducing business expenses.
Another interesting key area to analyze is what each size fleet considers the most important in choosing a provider. Each respondent was asked to rank these categories on a scale of 1-5 ("not important" to "extremely important"). Here are the average scores for certain categories: (medium-size score is given first, large is given second):
- Upfront cost (3.72 vs. 3.66)
- Monthly fees (4.04 vs. 3.94)
- Service coverage (4.08 vs. 4.25)
- Software features (4.05 vs. 3.94)
- Customer service (4.24 vs. 4.09)
- Return on investment (3.88 vs. 3.84)
- Ease of use (4.36 vs. 4.22)
It appears that initial and long term cost affects mid-size fleets much more than large fleets, suggesting that mid-size fleets do not have the same access to funds that large fleets enjoy. In its place, large fleets cited that service coverage was by far the most important aspect of choosing a provider, likely due to the fact that larger fleets operate on a more expansive geographic region and thus need to know that they can track their vehicles anywhere.
ROI was an important issue for both size fleets, as was ease of use. I suspect that the reason larger fleets are not as worried as mid-size fleets about the customer service of their providers is also due to their more vast pool of resources. Because they spend more money, they expect to be catered to more than mid-size fleets and therefore expect better service.
All-in-all, mid-size fleets are fairly similar to larger commercial fleets outside of a few nuanced areas. The differences in resources available generally account for any discrepancies in the need for telematics. One could justifiably argue that larger commercial fleets turn to telematics for more specific needs, whereas mid-size fleets prefer to use it as a more general fleet management enhancing tool.