Joe Runyan always suspected that his pickup-and-delivery dry cleaning business in Kansas City could be operating its fleet of vehicles more efficiently. He just wasn't quite sure what to do to find out how.
Runyan's Hangers Cleaners pretty much pioneered the we-come-to-you approach to dry cleaning in Kansas City when he began his operation nine years ago. Hangers Cleaners serves a generally upscale clientele on both the Missouri and Kansas sides of the city, with his vans covering regular routes daily.
He admits that for quite some time he suspected that his drivers, despite their good driving records and strong levels of customer satisfaction, might not be operating the vans as cost-effectively as he would like in a business where every dime matters. It wasn't until he heard about Sprint Connected Fleet solutions – and talked with his Sprint representative about how he could better manage his fleet -- that he found a way to test his suspicions.
For Hangers Cleaners, each van is outfitted with a Geotab device that logs data for every aspect of the drivers' daily routes. It records vehicle stops, how fast they drive, how hard they brake, when they go into reverse, and perhaps most importantly, how long the van idles at any one time.
The Geotab fleet management solution collects all of this data along with when and where it happened and for how long, then sends that information over the wireless Sprint network to a secure cloud-based server. There the data is processed into actionable reports for the fleet manager, in this case Runyan. "For years, I was thinking we needed to do things better," Runyan says. "I trust our drivers, but always thought it would be nice to know where they are and when they're there. I was always asking the FedEx and UPS guys about this when they made deliveries to us, and was impressed by all the things they tracked.
"The Sprint Connected Fleet solution is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to be able to know where my drivers are and get feedback on their speed and especially about their backing up. Almost every time we have had any kind of accident in our vans, it has been when a driver was backing up." Runyan installed the Geotab GO6 device into all his delivery vans, noting that it only took a few minutes each to plug it into the diagnostic port and start generating vehicle data. He didn't tell the drivers about the Geotab installation for a few weeks, so he could get a baseline on their driving behavior and see how it would change once they knew their driving was being tracked.
"For the most part, I was pleased with the data," Runyan says. "They weren't stopping for two-hour lunches or wasting time. Some of them were speeding a bit, but what I really noticed was that they were idling a lot."
Just by reducing the idling time, Runyan says, should generate enough savings to make the solution quickly pay for itself. For instance, he found out that during some stops at grocery stores for pickups and deliveries, a driver might leave the van idling for 20 minutes while inside the store. But almost all the drivers were guilty of allowing the vans to warm up on cold mornings for far too long – as much as an hour – before hitting the road. "Now that they know the devices are in there and what we expect of them, we're seeing a big reduction in idling, and their driving has gotten less aggressive," Runyan says. "A little speeding on the highway may be one thing, but I don't want our drivers blowing through residential neighborhoods."
To correct the drivers' performance issues, Runyan is opting for a more positive approach, giving them a financial incentive to drive safely and efficiently and improve mileage. Everyone wins, because with less aggressive driving, he points out, the tires, brakes, transmissions, and everything else on the vans will last longer. That's good news for vehicles that can be particularly expensive to repair. With Sprint and Geotab riding along, the impact on Hangers Cleaners' customer service was immediate, Runyan says. He displays drivers' routes and locations on a large video screen at the company's main facility, and now Hangers Cleaners can accommodate unscheduled stops better than ever before. Runyan is already contemplating how he can integrate the Geotab data with Hangers Cleaners point of sale system, to text or email customers and let them know their order was delivered, or to remind them the van is on its way and make sure their cleaning bag is on the porch.
"With all the routes showing on a big monitor, we can really see where there is overlap and see which routes and areas of the city are the most profitable," Runyan says. "We can add or cut routes and make sure that all the routes are equitable for the drivers." When it comes to the bottom line, Runyan estimates that the fleet management solution "will save us thousands of dollars a year. I calculated the cost of the morning idling for just one driver, and figured out he had cost us more than $12,000 since he has worked for us. If we can cut down that kind of idling, especially with diesel fuel costs what they are, it should save us a lot."
Fleet management solutions offer a wide range of features that enable smarter management. Specific solutions and benefits vary from company to company, depending on how it uses its fleet. While a delivery company like Hangers Cleaners benefits from a real-time view into its vans' locations and activities, a construction company may be focused on ensuring on-time deliveries to job sites and tracking time on a given job. Sprint Connected Fleet teams work with individual companies to understand how their company can work smarter and implement the best solution for its operational objectives.