11.15
2019

Tips for Driving Safer This Winter

As the year moves forward and winter approaches and the mercury continues to drop, driving conditions can start to become more precarious than usual, particularly when snow falls or when freezing temperatures create icy conditions after even the lightest of rainfalls. Last year, we shared some great tips that you and your drivers should keep top of mind when getting behind the wheel in these frigid months. But, as with anything, there is always more that you can do to improve, so we want to share some additional tips to help keep everyone safer while on the road this winter.

Drive slower.
This may seem obvious, but anyone that has experience driving knows that not everyone drives cautiously during inclement weather or road conditions. So it’s important to be extra careful while they’re driving, both to keep your own vehicle in control and to be better positioned to react to other reckless drivers.

Be mindful of tire spray.
When driving on a particularly precipitous day, take a look at the amount of water spraying off the tires of other vehicles’ on the road. When there’s a lot of water coming off, you know you’re dealing with a wet road, obviously. But, if the spray begins to lessen — and it’s clear the road hasn’t dried completely — you’re facing freezing conditions, so be extra cautious.

Turn into a skid.
If your vehicle starts to skid, your initial reaction may be to turn the wheel in the opposite direction in order to compensate. But in reality, you’re better off turning into the skid, as it lets you maintain more control of your vehicle.

Prepare a winter driving kit.
What exactly is a winter driving kit? In the event of a breakdown that leaves you stranded, you want to make sure to have the proper tools that can either facilitate a fix on your own, or that can keep you safe while waiting for help to arrive. Your kit should include items such as extra clothing (gloves, rain gear, additional layers), a blanket, a flashlight with batteries, non-perishable food, water bottles, a bag of sand and/or salt, a shovel, an ice scraper, tire chains, and a cell phone charger. Basically, anything that you might need to weather a storm in a broken-down vehicle, or to help get you out of a sticky situation.

Don’t be afraid to pull over.
Yes, you might be on a tight schedule, but under no circumstances should you risk your safety, or the safety of those around you, by continuing to drive in treacherous conditions. If you find yourself caught in the onslaught of a storm, pull over until driving conditions improve. You’re better off arriving late than not arriving at all.

In the event of an emergency …
If you find yourself broken down on the side of the road, particularly during a storm, try your best to remain calm. Minimize the amount of time you spend outside of the vehicle, particularly if rectifying the situation is beyond your control. It’s safer for you to stay inside your vehicle, with the hazard lights turned on, until help arrives.

Some of these tips may seem obvious to more experienced drivers, but no matter how long you’ve been behind the wheel, they merit repeating at the approach of every winter season. When it comes to driver safety, you can never be too careful.

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11.06
2019

Truck Safety: Tips and Tools to Promote Good Driving Habits

As the amount of freight transportation activity increases, so do the chances of traffic accidents. Today, trucks carry the majority of freight, about 65 percent, from the United States into Canada and Mexico. With all this movement, there are bound to be accidents. But how many are preventable? What, if anything, can companies do to curb bad driving habits? Experts agree that implementing a proactive program in the workplace is a crucial factor in mitigating traffic incidents. Before we explore possible incentives employers can provide to promote safe driving, let’s look at what commercial truck drivers can do when they get behind the wheel.

  • Get plenty of rest before driving.
    Eat well and stay fit. Driver fatigue and lack of attention can significantly increase your risk of a crash.
  • Slow down in work zones.
    Stay alert. Almost one-third of work zone fatal crashes involve large trucks. Most of these crashes occur during the day. Take your time going through work zones, give yourself plenty of room, and expect the unexpected.
  •  Be aware of your “No Zone.”
    Other drivers may not be aware of the size of your blind spots. One-third of all crashes between large trucks and cars take place in the No-Zone areas around a truck. Adjust your mirrors and be vigilant in watching out for vehicles.
  • Always keep your distance.
    Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. In rear-end collisions, regardless of the situation, if you hit someone from behind, you are considered at fault. Large trucks, given their mass, have much greater stopping distances than 4-wheelers. Take advantage of your driving height and anticipate hard braking situations.
  • Always maintain your vehicle.
    It can save your life. Inspect your vehicle before each trip and check your brakes regularly. Brake defects are the most frequently cited out-of-service inspection violation. Learn how to inspect your brakes, identify safety defects, and get them repaired before risking your life and the lives of others.
  • Drive defensively.
    Avoid aggressive drivers and maintain a safe speed. Two-thirds of all traffic fatalities may be caused by aggressive driving behaviors. The only thing excessive speed increases is your chance for a crash.
  • Always fasten your seatbelt.
    Buckle up for safety and vehicle control. If you are in a crash, a seat belt will save your life. It will keep you in your seat and allow for you to maintain control of your truck. Increasing seat belt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to save lives and reduce injuries on our roadways.

Keeping Track of Your Drivers: How You Can Help?
Now that you know what your drivers should do, how do you know that they’re practicing good driver behavior throughout their shifts? From minor collisions to major accidents, your business depends on safe, conscientious drivers who will mitigate risk and represent your business with integrity. Actsoft offers incredible, affordable, and reliable software solutions for tracking and monitoring driver behavior. Through detailed reports (which you control the frequency of, from daily to monthly to ad hoc and more), you’ll get a full picture of your drivers. Some of the things you can monitor are:

  • Speed
  • Rapid acceleration and deceleration
  • Arrival and departure times

You may also receive vehicle maintenance reminders and alerts informing you when drivers are in restricted or unauthorized areas. This is especially useful when the law prohibits certain freight from entering certain areas, such as neighborhoods and school zones.

If you’re ready to take a step toward a safe, low-risk approach to vehicle management, then give us a call! We can help you choose solutions right for your needs and budget.

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10.28
2019

Why Telematics Is More Than a Buzzword

Now that we have all this information at our fingertips — from GPS positioning and driver behavior, to consumer trends and asset locations, what do we do with it? For the last few decades, we’ve gotten ever more sophisticated at collecting and tracking data, but the latest goal is developing systems to act on that information in a meaningful and valuable way.

This is precisely why the notion of telematics is not just a passing blip in the Twittersphere or in techy magazines. Telematics, which integrates information with telecommunications, is now ubiquitous in the M2M industry, including GPS technology and even satellite radio.

In the past, one of the major concerns for many companies was not only having all this information, but also multiple platforms from which to assimilate and act upon it. In short, it seemed less of an advantage and more of a headache, so there’s been a huge push for single-management platforms for multiple tasks, such as dispatching and route optimization — a single control panel to rule them all.

So companies, like Actsoft, are at the forefront of this industry by offering a wide range of telematics services to solve multiple problems through a single interface. By consolidating data from multiple touch points into a single stream, information has the potential to become richer, and patterns even more apparent. Once you have this piece of the puzzle in place, the fun begins: What do you do with all this information?

Because the impressive ROI of telematics-enabled services has been proven for years, more companies who depend on a wide variety of M2M operations – from asset locating devices to cloud-based wireless forms — want to know how they can add even more value to existing software. We offer an effective and full-scope suite of M2M, integrated mobile solutions that work in tandem with third-party clients, creating specialized, unique uses. This type of customization is becoming more popular in the telematics world as the data that’s meaningful to one company may not be to another. An example would be adapting an asset-protection device, meant to prevent theft of heavy machinery, by sending alerts to a marketing research situation where two items are being A/B tested. The researcher would know which item is picked up more, moved, and inspected. This stream of data could also be integrated with information from other telematics solutions such as wireless forms in understanding how many forms are filled out in relation to how often a product was moved and so on.

The data insights are limitless and as technology advances more rapidly, these solutions become surprisingly affordable — so much so that it becomes costly not to have them.

Whatever the trends are in today’s more complex world of systems and analysis, one thing is for certain: Having even a base level telematics-meets-big-data software solution will be the norm from which every competitive business will be operating. What you do with the information is another system altogether.

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10.02
2019

Check-Engine Light: Get on the Road to the Code

The check-engine light is probably most drivers’ least favorite feature, signaling not only problems with your vehicle but money, time, and potential headaches down the road. While it’s tempting to ignore it for a few days or even weeks, experts warn that failing to address the light can make problems more costly and even hazardous. Also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL), the light is triggered by your car’s engine computer. The problem is it doesn’t actually tell you what is wrong, just that something is wrong.

Decoding the Signal
Since 1996, automakers have standardized the check-engine codes under a protocol called OBD-II, mandating that cars are equipped with a universal connector to communicate these codes. Usually located under the steering column, this connector is easy to use and access. Nowadays you can purchase an inexpensive code reader but you still have to decipher it.

Actsoft now has a convenient solution for drivers and fleet managers: Comet Fleet, a GPS Tracking solution, now has code reading capability that will alert you in real-time. This information is invaluable when managing several vehicles because drivers and fleet managers now have the chance to make informed decisions on whether a driver can continue on his route or if the vehicle needs immediate attention.

Common Codes and What They Cost (and Save) You
According to Edmund’s, an automotive research center, the five most common reasons for the check engine light to come on are:

  • Faulty oxygen sensor (part of the emissions system, monitoring and helping adjust the air-fuel mixture)
  • Catalytic converter
  • Ignition coil and spark plugs
  • Loose gas cap
  • Mass air flow sensor (monitoring the amount of air mixed in the fuel injection system)

The oxygen sensor, which monitors the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust and tells your car’s computer when there is either too much, or not enough fuel, is a common problem among vehicles. This repair can cost an average of $258, according to CarMD. However, it can save hundreds or even thousands in the long run since a faulty sensor can reduce gas mileage by a whopping 40 percent. The same is true for the mass air flow sensor, which calculates the amount of air coming into the car and determines how much fuel to shoot into the engine. CarMD reports that when this malfunctions, it can drop fuel efficiency by 10–25 percent which, over time, will cost you much more than the $378 (on average) it costs to fix right away.

While your check engine light may just be screaming for a new spark plug, don’t be one of the nine million drivers who have a habit of ignoring their lights for three months or more.

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08.14
2019

Do You Know Your Fuel-Saving Facts?

Are you still “myth-ified” on how to save gas money? Every day our Actsoft team talks to huge fleet companies as well as local delivery businesses about how to save fuel, cut costs, and keep their vehicles running smoothly and efficiently. We’ve developed some of the most dependable software in the industry that helps managers do everything from monitor driving behavior (including fast braking and acceleration) to providing optimal routes for drivers in near real-time based on robust GPS technology, all with an eye on keeping gas costs down.

All of this adds up to millions of dollars in fuel savings each year. You may be surprised at what avoidable driving habits are costing your company big bucks each month — and you might even be more surprised at how easy it is to fix it.

FACT: Pay attention to your check engine light, because if it’s the oxygen sensor (which is a common cause of that scary little light flashing), replacing it can improve fuel economy by as much as 40 percent.

MYTH: Aggressive driving (fast braking and accelerating) doesn’t really affect fuel economy. Reality: Slow down and chill out — you’re wasting 31 percent more gas when you drive aggressively than your more relaxed and polite counterparts.

MYTH: Being stuck in traffic is better for fuel than taking a longer, less-congested way. Reality: An hour of idling uses up to a half gallon of fuel, so if you’re in a traffic jam (and sitting idly for even a minute) you’re better off taking the scenic route and moving.

FACT: Oil affects your fuel. Using the wrong type of oil in your vehicle can lower mileage as much as 2 percent.

MYTH: Using the air conditioner always wastes more gas than having windows rolled down. Reality: On highways, it’s more fuel efficient to roll windows up and use the A/C so the car is more aerodynamic.

MYTH: The shortest route is always better on gas. Reality: If you’re using a shorter, but hillier, route, you’ll be seeing the results on your gas gauge. Going uphill — even if the distance is a little shorter — is far worse on your gas tank than driving on flat land.

FACT: A tune-up can improve gas mileage by up to 4 percent.

MYTH: Car heaters use as much fuel as air conditioning. Reality: Car heaters recycle heat from the engine, so they don’t use any extra fuel.

Want the scoop on which solutions will save your company the most money each month? The Actsoft team is here to show you how.

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07.10
2019

Talent Is Not the Key to Success

You might be surprised by what is. In a word: organization. The ability to assemble a variety of moving parts in such a way that they work efficiently is the key to any company’s success — whether you own an accounting firm or doughnut shop. Understanding and managing the flow of daily operations can save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. And with today’s user-friendly technology, more and more people are adopting software solutions to help them streamline their processes and manage employee activities, meetings, appointments, and projects.

“Time management isn’t just a personal productivity issue over which companies have no control. It has increasingly become an organizational issue whose root causes are deeply embedded in corporate structures and cultures,” says Aaron De Smet in McKinsey Quarterly, speaking on the necessity of sound time management throughout a company’s internal structure.

From Forbes to the Wall Street Journal to week-long trainings and seminars, there are countless articles citing top organizational applications while managers across the country attend high-ticket conferences on, you got it: How to get organized.

Actosft’s suite of solutions helps to optimize daily performance through a wide range of functions designed to make each minute count. They were also designed to help employees reduce the amount of busy work they do so that areas like innovation, customer service, and critical thinking–oriented issues can take precedence.

Features of these two solutions include meaningful ways to tackle some of the most common communication and administrative tasks of most companies and organizations, such as:

  • Instant Visibility View your entire workload and status updates for each job, assignment, stop, or project.
  • Drag-and-Drop Dispatching Assign work simply with a drag-and-drop interface and workers will be notified with each update.
  • No Lost Paperwork Attach Wireless Forms to orders and collect job updates, inventory utilized, before and after pictures, and signatures.
  • Calendars and Scheduling Sync workforce availability with customer schedules.
  • Detailed Profiles Create detailed profiles of your customers and employees while having complete access to current workload and job history.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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06.25
2019

Fleet Safety 101 With Actsoft Solutions

Safety is the top priority for those tasked with managing a business fleet. As drivers operating business vehicles tend to be dispersed considerably far from one another, finding a fleet management solution that can provide details on the driving behaviors of each mobile employee is integral, no matter their distance from the office.

Two of the most important aspects of keeping a safe business fleet include being able to monitor driver habits and keeping tabs on vehicle locations. Too much hard acceleration and braking can increase vehicle wear and tear, putting your mobile employees and other users of the road at greater risk when it comes to accident potential. Being able to recognize excessive instances of dangerous driving habits like these and actively enforcing procedures to help curb them in your mobile workforce can help your staff implement safer driving styles. Vehicle tracking can also help you better pinpoint and dispatch out aid to any of your drivers that may need emergency assistance if an accident does occur.

Actsoft solutions are equipped to provide your fleet managers with all the tools they need to employ a safer fleet by blending versatility with robust features. Our premier solution Encore lets you see near real-time traffic patterns on a live view map, and it can integrate with some third-party software types for an even more detailed experience. Sync weather data with your Encore solution’s map to see where your drivers are located in relation to any inclement storms or blizzards, even on a nationwide scale. You can then use features like Job Dispatching to communicate out new protocols to your drivers nearly instantly, helping them stay safe and return to their tasks once it’s safe to begin driving again. Encore’s detailed reports about driver speeds also make it easy for you to see which of your drivers are going too fast too frequently.

Manage delivery delays and more using Actsoft technology to better prevent staff from driving in hazardous conditions. The power of our applications helps you see where specific drivers are, respond more efficiently to any breakdowns that might occur, and keep your team safer on the road as a whole.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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06.18
2019

Ways to Enhance Your Company’s Brand

One of the most effective ways to increase customer loyalty is to focus on enhancing your organization’s brand. However, developing a powerful name in your respective market can be challenging to do when you’re just starting out, and even once your company has achieved this, it’s still a constant process to maintain.

Every aspect of your business should be optimized to help you effectively address the needs of your customers. Here are a few tips to help your company do just that, and craft a sterling brand at the same time.

Redefine your company’s mission

If it’s been a while since your organization has realigned its focus and business strategy, you may want to think about giving it some attention. As the market is constantly changing, it’s important to take note of any changes in interest by your target customer base, and tailor your business practices to meet their new needs. Redefining goals also helps to unify your team and give them a clearer understanding of what new strategies they can implement to better address customer requests.

Focus on timely and attentive customer care

Build a brand backed by an excellent reputation to foster repeat business. Delivering timely, attentive service remains one of the best ways to retain customer loyalty, garner new opportunities, and build up a quality standing in the market, so make sure that the positive experiences of your clientele are highly emphasized. Highlighting these will allow your company to generate a brand that has the wellbeing of customers as its top priority.

Consider a brand makeover

If your business’s logos, color schemes, or overall visual representations to customers are outdated, you could be falling behind your competition. Brand makeovers serve as adaptations to the marketplace of the 21st century; stay relevant by ensuring that your organization’s appearance reflects both modernity and reliability to its prospective customers.

Just like these tips can help you enhance your company’s brand, Actsoft solutions can assist your organization with increasing its performance. You can even customize your Actsoft application to include attributes of your brand such as updated logos and color palettes to truly drive home your message. Use our solutions today to improve punctuality, efficiency, and productivity across your entire workforce, boosting the potency of your brand in the process.

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05.10
2019

6 Tips for Going Green at Work

As a business owner, making a conscious effort to incorporate eco-friendly decisions into day-to-day operations has a ton of benefits, outside of the obvious positive environmental impact. In addition, it’s a good look (i.e. it makes for great PR) for any company, which in turn is excellent for business. Plus, most times cutting out unnecessary waste requires little effort (other than a different way of thinking), while simultaneously saving you money.

If you want to take the plunge but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few helpful tips to get you going.

Put it in your mission statement.
Make it official, so it’s no surprise to anyone. When adhering to as many eco-friendly practices as possible is a part of your company’s official plan of action, it’s a draw for like-minded employees, which means it’s a lot easier getting your whole team on board.

Replace your lights.
Energy efficient LEDs cost a little more than your average bulb, but they last a heck of a lot longer and use significantly less energy.

Support local vendors.
If you’re a small business yourself, you know the importance of people showing you their support. When you do the same, you aren’t just increasing the potential for taking advantage of a word-of-mouth marketing strategy; supporting local vendors also contributes to a reduced carbon footprint, since many don’t have to rely on long-haul transportation.

Eliminate disposable products.
Do you have an office kitchen that’s fully stocked with disposable plates, cups, and plasticware? Make the switch to reusable. It may require a slightly more expensive up-front cost, but you’ll be saving money in the long haul.

Make better printing choices.
While we like to help companies drastically reduce paper waste (see below), we know that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to completely eliminate. When you do need to print something out, just make sure to print on both sides of the paper whenever possible.

Enlist the help of Actsoft’s solutions.
You may not realize it, but just by considering Actsoft to help manage your mobile workforce, you’re taking a step toward becoming more eco-friendly. How? Our solutions focus on helping you increase efficiency while cutting costs, and a number of our methods also help you reduce your carbon footprint while doing this. Our fleet management techniques focus on maximizing routes, cutting unnecessary idling, and adhering to safer driving speeds, all of which help you scale back your emissions. Eliminating the need to require each employee to come into the office just to punch in further scales back emissions. Making the switch from paper to digital forms (besides creating far more manageable “paperwork”) dramatically reduces the amount of paper waste you create.

So what do you say? Let’s start saving the planet (and money).

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05.03
2019

7 Office Etiquette Tips

Some say proper etiquette is a lost art. While we may not be embracing the over-the-top refinement of the days of yore today, there will always be a need for basic manners. And that holds true while at work. We’re calling the following list office etiquette tips, but the reality is, they’re useful no matter where it is you go to work. Because when you keep simple tips like these in mind, you make the workplace more enjoyable for everyone around you.

Don’t interrupt.
We get it. You have something really important to add to the conversation. But not only is it rude to cut people off when they’re in the middle of speaking, you’re also sending the message that what they’re saying is unimportant. (Or, in the least, less important than what you have to say.) Learn to hold your tongue and speak up when there’s an appropriate break in the conversation.

Be punctual.
Nobody likes to be kept waiting needlessly. It’s a waste of their time, plus — especially if you are notoriously tardy — it’s a signal that you feel other people’s time isn’t as precious as your own. (Are you seeing a pattern here? Nonverbal cues are important in the workplace.) If you are late, apologize right out the gate. But don’t let it become a habit. The last thing you want is for your colleagues to anticipate that you will inevitably be late for any meeting.

Silence that phone.
Speaking of meetings, a phone’s ringer loudly going off in the middle of a meeting is the professional equivalent to one going off in a crowded movie theater. So keep your phone on silent whenever you’re in a meeting. In fact, you may even consider leaving it that way — or at least on vibrate — for the duration of the workday … if you’re in an office, at least.

Share the credit.
Who doesn’t love the feeling of praise at the completion of a job well done? But amid basking in all that glory, don’t forget to share the wealth (if applicable) and give a shout-out to anyone that played a role in helping out.

Work with others.
In order to share the credit, you have to be willing to work well with others. Of course, sometimes one-off projects are easy enough to do solo. But more often than not, anyone can benefit from at least some input from their colleagues. You’re a team, so take advantage of each other’s strengths. In the end, it’s going to result in a strong performance overall.

If you’re sick … stay home.
We’ve discussed this at length before, but it always warrants a reminder. Nothing is more respectful than putting the health of your coworkers first. If you think the office will come to a screeching halt because you’re out (it won’t), imagine how bad it actually would be if you came in, spread your germs, and a handful of people had to stay home.

Welcome new employees.
You don’t have to be the welcome wagon and official tour guide, but the first day at a new job — regardless of how old you are — can be a little unnerving for people. Extend basic courtesies and help make them feel like less of an outcast as they transition into their new work environment.

Simple enough, right? Just keep these in mind and you’ll start to see a huge difference in your workplace.

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