Plumbing contractors face tremendous pressure to retain existing customers and grow their business. Regardless of size, these field service businesses must establish and maintain an excellent reputation for service that includes on-time arrival, verification of completed jobs, and workflow steps that reduce friction.
GPS vehicle- and video-based fleet management systems can be a powerful tool to serve these efforts by enhancing customer service and productivity. These days, customers expect proficiency with technology.
According to a survey in Plumbing & Mechanical, 79% of customers want a tech-savvy plumber.
Fleet tracking raises awareness of the location and use of company assets. It helps these businesses reduce operating costs such as fuel (including idling), time waste, and theft of company resources. GPS vehicle data can be integrated with back-office systems to improve invoicing and billing.
Entry-level video systems help companies avoid costly legal outcomes. Adding in-cab video cameras with camera vision, machine learning, and other AI features provide an even higher level of intelligence around fleet operations. They watch the road ahead for objects and the driver to monitor distracted behaviors such as cellphone use, drowsiness, smoking, or eating.
The Lure of OEM Telematics
Field service businesses purchase their vehicles from local automotive dealers, and they often rely on these same dealers to help them equip the vehicle for duty.
Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (Ram) maintain a robust network of dealerships that include specialized commercial dealers to help small and mid-size businesses acquire vans and trucks. They offer bailment pools – clusters of vehicles set aside near their factories that have been equipped with the most common auxiliary equipment for certain industries.
The manufacturer dealers help businesses source commercial-spec vehicles, such as chassis cabs, as well as work truck bodies, racks and bins, and in some cases telematics systems.
Each of the OEMs offers its own telematics system that provides track-and-trace features. Some of the telematics systems are offered as private-label, off-the-shelf solutions supplied by the larger telematics providers.
It can seem convenient to add an OEM telematics system during the ordering process, but this can be a pitfall because the OEM systems are often more limited than what you can find in the aftermarket. And purchasing it from a dealer will likely result in a higher cost.
OEMs are often more interested in collecting the data for their own programs, while telematics service providers focus on baking in features designed for field service businesses.
How Telematics Helps You Provide Superior Customer Service
Plumbing businesses typically have low brand awareness among new customers, but their online reputations via user reviews remain the lifeblood of business.
About 57% of customers said they would only use a home services business unless it had four stars or higher on local reviews, according to BrightLocal.
About 80% of customers said they checked local reviews before hiring a field service company, according to Plumbing Perspective.