Why Use a GPS Fleet Tracking Service
The top performers in our review are Verizon Networkfleet, the Gold Award winner; Fleetistics, the Silver Award winner; and NexTraq, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 services.
When delivering goods or services is an important part of things running smoothly for your business, GPS fleet tracking services can help you make sure that the drivers of your vehicles are being safe, that they're following the prescribed routes, and that they're not making any unauthorized stops. Most services also provide information on drivers' safety and other data on your vehicles. As you choose a service, it's important to think through what you want from a tracking service so you can be sure that the one you select matches all of your needs.
Our articles about fleet tracking services are geared toward the needs of small businesses that move goods and services to their customers using a small fleet of vehicles. Brickhouse Security is a little different in that it also advertises GPS tracking for just one vehicle or for a family, such as tracking your teenager driving your car. However, if you're looking for this kind of tracking, our GPS Trackers site reviews devices designed for personal or family GPS tracking.
How GPS Fleet Tracking Works
GPS fleet tracking services track information like safety, routes and maintenance in your vehicles through a GPS hardware device that's installed into each vehicle. The hardware automatically reports back to the cloud-based GPS fleet tracking software, and you pay a monthly fee to the company in order to use the software and access customer support.
What Can Be Tracked with a GPS Tracker?
Every GPS tracker can track the routes of your vehicles, including where your vehicles stop and how long they're stopped. This can help you keep track of how long each installation, delivery or other service is taking, and with that information you can improve your efficiency at each type of stop.
All GPS trackers in our review can also track how fast your vehicle is going. You can create custom alerts to let you know when your vehicle exceeds a certain speed. You can also track how much your vehicles are idling, which can give you a good idea of how much fuel is being wasted so you can take steps to reduce the waste.
These devices also track safety information, such as harsh braking, hard acceleration and seatbelt wearing. You can also track maintenance information with many of these services, and several of the companies in our review provide engine fault codes, which can help your mechanics quickly identify the problems that arise in your vehicle.
For all of the services we reviewed, geofencing is available. With geofencing, you can draw a virtual fence around an area in your tracking map (by zip code or manually), and the software will notify you if your driver enters that space. This can be useful to help you know when your driver goes somewhere that is off-limits or, conversely, if they arrive at a common place. For example, if you make a lot of deliveries or service calls to a particular location, you can create a geofence around that area. Receiving the notification that your driver has entered the geofence can assure you and your customers that your goods or services are being delivered on time.
Interactive Maps and Breadcrumb Trails
Each fleet tracking system in our review provides software that has an interactive map where you can see your vehicles' location and whether they're moving, stopped or idling. Verizon Networkfleet has an especially easy-to-navigate map, with color-coded vehicle icons and menus that provide more detail on each vehicle when you click on the icon.
In each company's software, you can create and inspect a breadcrumb trail that gives you a detailed history of a selected vehicle's activities for a specified amount of time. On a breadcrumb trail, you can easily see where your vehicle traveled in the day, where and when it stopped and for how long, how long a vehicle idled, and even if a vehicle breaks safety rules you've set, such as exceeding a certain speed, braking harshly or accelerating too quickly. CalAmp had an especially useful breadcrumb trail option. Of the services we tested, it is the easiest to use and read, with a report viewable alongside the breadcrumb trail that highlights corresponding events in both the map and the report.
What Can GPS Fleet Tracking Do For My Business?
GPS fleet trackers can be especially helpful to businesses in four main areas. They can help you improve driver safety, help you provide accurate information to your customers, and help you save money on fuel and maintenance expenses.
You can help keep your employees safe by helping them change dangerous driving habits and behavior. GPS trackers keep tabs on speeding, harsh braking, acceleration and, for some, seatbelt wearing, which means you can give your drivers solid data to help them be aware of the behaviors they need to improve. This can protect not only your employees, but also your goods and equipment in each vehicle.
If your customers need to know when your goods will be delivered or your technicians will arrive, it's important to have a solid answer for them. With GPS tracking, you can easily see where each vehicle is located and how long it might take the driver to reach the desired location. With NexTraq, you can also see what the weather is like in your vehicle's area. This way, you can tell customers if inclement weather is going to affect the time of delivery. Fleetistics lets you share the real-time map that tracks your vehicles on your website so that your customer can see for themselves where their order is and when it will arrive.
Savings on Fuel and Maintenance
In addition to tracking idling time so you can determine ways to reduce that wasted fuel, some vehicle tracking systems offer fuel card programs. You can give these cards to your drivers, and they can only be used to buy gasoline for your vehicles. GPS trackers also track data on how much fuel you use so that you can easily track your fuel expenses. With this information, you can find ways to decrease the amount of money you're spending on fuel.
You can set up your GPS software to let you know when routine maintenance is due on your vehicle. Keeping up on your vehicles' health can help you avoid unexpected problems with your fleet, which can help you save money on repair costs. In the event that your vehicle does have a problem come up, some hardware can provide you with engine fault codes, which are the same codes mechanics use. With this information, your mechanics can quickly identify the problem with your vehicle, which can save you money on labor costs since they won't have to take time to figure out what's wrong.
GPS Services: Hardware & Software
GPS fleet tracking services include two main parts: the hardware and the software. Both are important for the service to work properly.
Most of the companies we reviewed offer GPS hardware that is about the size of a bar of soap or a deck of cards. Many are wired into the car under the dashboard. Some of the hardware installed this way requires professional installation, which may mean you pay an extra installation fee. It can be helpful to have the GPS device wired to your car under the dashboard because the devices are hidden from your drivers.
Other GPS devices are plug-and-play devices, and are placed in the engine diagnostic center. These are easier to install and don't generally require any professional installation. They are easier for your drivers to reach; however, the devices can let you know if they've been tampered with.
The hardware reads your vehicle's information and sends it to the corresponding GPS cloud-based software. The software lets you create and read reports, track your vehicles on a map, view problems with your employees' driving behavior, see a complete history of your fleet's movements and more. The software is where you can create geofences, inspect breadcrumb trails and play with interactive maps.
In our testing, Fleetistics had the most comprehensive software that we saw, allowing you to do everything we looked for in the best GSP fleet tracking services. Networkfleet was the simplest to use, with an easy-to-understand user interface. Fleetmatics had the most useful dashboard, which is the page that first populates your screen when you log in to your software. Fleetmatics' dashboard is customizable with helpful graphs make it easy to glean information quickly.
GPS Fleet Tracking Services: What We Evaluated, What We Found
Along with all of the features and options offered by each vehicle tracking solution, we evaluated each service on three different scores: a reporting readability score, a software usability score and a customer support score. The companies we reviewed have no input in the rankings on this site.
Reporting Readability Score
Having a lot of information is great, but it's only helpful if you can understand it. We scored each company's reports on how readable they were, on whether or not graphs and charts were available and on how comprehensive the information provided was. Overall, the reports provided by the companies in our review were put together well and presented solid information. Some of them could have been improved by having graphs and other scan-able graphics as well as charts. NexTraq had especially useful reports that included comprehensive information in easy-to-understand graphs and charts.
Software Usability Score
Since you'll be interacting with the GPS software on a daily basis, it's important that the software is easy to understand and use, and that it actually does everything you need it to do. We created a software usability score for each company's software based on the scope of features it had, how easy it was to navigate, how interactive the maps were and the usefulness of the dashboard. Fleetistics had the most comprehensive software and Networkfleet had the easiest interface to navigate. Fleetmatics and Rhino Fleet Tracking had the highest scores in this category due to their useful dashboards, interactive maps and ease-of-use.
In any business contract, it's important that you have a good relationship and strong communication with the other party. We reached out multiple times to each service and tested each company's customer service, including in how responsive representatives were, if they were knowledgeable, how well each demonstration of service went, and whether or not the representatives followed up with us after our initial contact. For the most part, we had positive experiences with the companies' customer service. Networkfleet and Fleetistics were the only two services that earned 100 percent on this score.
Verdict & Recommendation
NexTraq has some of the best reporting options among the services we reviewed, reporting on safety issues, vehicle maintenance, route information and more in customizable formats. Networkfleet has the easiest software dashboard out of the ones we tried, which means less of a hassle and learning curve for you. Fleetistics offers the most comprehensive software options, allowing you to do just about anything with its software, such as create various custom reports, customize tracking options and more. Each of these fleet tracking companies are solid options; it just comes down to picking what's best for your company in terms of tracking, reporting and hardware.
*Disclaimer: The pricing listed in this article, in the matrix and in our reviews is reflective of the date this review was last updated.