Michael Rolman

Telematics is a method of monitoring a motor vehicle. By combining a GPS system with on-board diagnostics, telematics can record and map exactly where a vehicle is, how fast it’s traveling, whether the vehicle requires maintenance and other key metrics.

Pest control companies of all sizes can use fleet telematics to turn this kind of data into valuable information. The insights it brings can help drive strategic decision-making and lead to better management of resources, including staff and the fleet.

When used effectively, fleet telematics can “rev up” a pest control company with the following benefits:

1. Enhanced Customer Service

Software connected to telematics devices can show authorized users a great deal of real-time information. This includes where every vehicle in the fleet is located. For example, if your branch receives a call from a customer reporting a pest issue, you can refer to the telematics program to find the vehicle closest to the customer’s address. This makes dispatching a field associate quicker and easier — often on the same day — than calling around to see who’s available to visit the customer.

2. Safer Driving

Pest control companies can use key data to identify unsafe driving behavior. This can include how often a driver exceeds the speed limit, how many times the driver applied the brake pedal harshly, how many times the vehicle accelerated quickly and seatbelt usage.

Having fleet telematics on board can be a powerful reminder for drivers to follow safety protocols. Knowing that the vehicle is being monitored makes drivers more conscious. Telematics also allows management to identify subpar driving behaviors and coach safer driving habits, such as through training and incentive programs.

Fleet telematics on all of EPS’s vehicles, including Arrow Environmental Services’ trucks in Florida, help improve several areas of the business.

3. Longer Running Vehicles

Telematics also monitors vehicle mechanical issues, like tire pressure, oil levels and remaining battery power. Some telematics programs allow PCOs to review this information online and to set alerts signaling when maintenance is due. For example, when one of our vehicles is due for an oil change, the branch manager and the driver receive a notification that it’s time to take the truck in for service.

Also, certain driving habits, such as harsh braking, can wear out a vehicle more quickly. Because telematics provides a window to driver behavior, PCOs can coach driving habits that help prolong vehicle life.

4. Decreased Fuel Expenses

Using telematics, PCOs can monitor two big fuel-wasters: an idling engine and excessive speed. Telematics allows pest control leaders to identify these habits and provide coaching to help save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on fuel, depending on the size of the fleet.

Drivers who sit in an idle car, filling out paperwork or talking on the phone, are unnecessarily burning fuel. And, our research has shown that traveling under 67 mph in a 70 mph zone helps significantly cut back on fuel costs. Our telematics program triggers alerts for vehicles that have been sitting idle for more than the set time limit or traveling above 67 mph.

5. Maintenance Savings and Better Budgeting

Larger PCOs that work with a third-party organization to manage its fleet and provide the telematics program also can gain a clearer picture of fleet maintenance costs. Telematics software can track the maintenance history of each vehicle, helping to avoid unnecessary service. In addition, some fleet management vendors have pre-negotiated rates with in-network mechanic shops or are familiar with the typical costs of labor and parts. This helps PCOs get fair pricing on necessary service, and telematics software gives leaders the ability to easily review these expenses.

Telematics also can display data about each vehicle, such as mileage. With a better grasp of when older vehicles will need to be replaced, management has a clearer timeline and better ability to budget.

6. Improved Operational Efficiency

Some telematics programs integrate with other business software. This can help increase operational efficiencies in a number of ways.

For example, users can dispatch vehicles directly from the telematics system for a more streamlined process. In the telematics program, the dispatcher will be able to see which vehicle is closest to the customer requiring service. Then he or she can dispatch the nearest team member directly from the telematics system, without having to go into another program.

In addition, some telematics programs can integrate with route planning software. By retaining and monitoring vehicles’ historical routes, telematics can connect with a route planning tool to help with route optimization, thereby saving time and money.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of telematics devices and programs on the market for different industries. Whether your pest control company has 10 vehicles or 100, there’s likely a telematics solution that can help rev up your business. The key is to clearly understand the data you need to have, thoroughly researching the available options, and considering whether the potential upside — both from a customer service and financial perspective — of telematics exceeds the costs involved.

The author is vice president of sales and operations for Environmental Pest Service (EPS). EPS operates six brands: Arrow Environmental Services and Bug Out Service in Florida; Skyline Pest Solutions in metro Atlanta; and State Pest Control, Smith Exterminating Company and Wood Termite & Pest Control in North Carolina. Email him at mrolman@environmentalpestservice.com.