01.17
2020

How to Establish a Team of Safe Fleet Drivers

We’ve talked about ways to help keep your drivers safe on the road when perilous winter conditions introduce hazardous obstacles. But what measures can you take to make sure your drivers know how to stay safe in general? After all, these are people you’re entrusting with your costly vehicles, and who are ostensibly serving as representatives of your company to anyone they drive past. Not to mention, there are lives at stake whenever they’re behind the wheel. There are a few steps you can take, before ever handing the keys of your vehicles over, to help make sure your drivers know what they’re doing.

Run a background check.
It goes without saying that you should always check to make sure a new driver has a valid license. But have you also looked into their past? Running a driving history check can give you further insight into their abilities. If a candidate’s past is checkered with a series of violations, it’s probably a good idea to reconsider bringing them on board.

Test them.
When considering onboarding a new driver, do you simply trust them based on their resumes? While a storied history in the trucking industry is a good indicator that they have the chops to drive for your company, it never hurts to present them with a written test to measure their actual knowledge of the rules of the road.

Buddy up!
Once you’ve decided to bring someone onto the team, consider pairing them with one of your more seasoned drivers, at least during a probationary period. This person will be able to help the newbie acclimate to a new vehicle, give them tips based on experience, and assure that they’re following best practices that both keep everyone safe and represent your company properly.

Create a driver safety policy.
Most businesses have some sort of employee handbook that lays out the rules of the workplace. In running a fleet-based operation, this handbook should include a driver safety policy. Present stipulations that reinforce the idea that all employees must adhere to the parameters of the law as a condition of employment, with no exceptions. Highlight the dangers of distracted driving, to include cell phone use, driving while fatigued, and even eating while on the move. Be sure to regularly revisit the policy, as incidents that arise over time may give you reasons to modify it.

Invest in GPS monitoring.
With Encore, our flagship mobile workforce managing software, administrators have the ability to monitor their employees from anywhere. You can receive alerts that give you insight into drivers’ safety practices, including speeding and hard accelerating/braking, actions that indicate unsafe practices are taking place. With these notifications, you’re able to make more informed decisions about your drivers, giving you the option to address situations before they get out of hand and someone is hurt.

Safe driving is one of the most important facets of any fleet. Without it, your reputation, your vehicles, and people’s lives are at risk. It’s your job to do everything you can to recruit the best drivers available. It’s ours to help make sure they continue to follow the rules.

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01.10
2020

How to Create Company Culture With a Remote Team

Company culture. Historically, it has always been a major component of any place of business. But as the concept of remote, or dispersed, workforces continues to gain in popularity, it begs the question: How does one cultivate that culture when so many members of their team are rarely in the same room at the same time?

When it comes to managing a remote team, it’s important that you keep those scattered team members front of mind so they don’t begin to feel neglected or as though they aren’t truly a part of the group. Even though they may not always be physically present, there are a few steps you can take to help maintain a healthy company culture and keep everyone involved.

Create a Culture Code
When everybody works in the same office, it doesn’t take long for newcomers to pick up on what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable. But the same can’t be said for remote workers. Particularly if these are people interacting with customers or clients, it’s important to create an official guide that highlights the company’s values, along with how they’re expected to behave when engaging in official company business.

Write it Down, Send it Out
It can be easy to forget that, while information spreads around the average office quickly by word of mouth, remote employees don’t have that same luxury. Distributing regular written communications that keep everyone in the know is a simple way to rectify this. As new, important developments arise, include this information in a weekly email (or internal message board … whatever works best for you), so everyone is as up to date as possible.

Check in Regularly
In the office, you’re bound to routinely run into your team, so it’s easy to have a quick catch-up and get updated on things. But with remote employees, those chance encounters don’t happen. Instead, book periodic check-ins; this keeps you in the loop with what they’re up to, and it keeps them feeling like a part of the team. You can even take a step further and arrange for monthly video conferences that bring the whole workforce together for a group update.

Keep Everyone Connected
Besides email and phone, how are your employees able to regularly stay in touch? Giving them access to a digital chat tool, where they can shoot off messages in real time and get responses from anyone who happens to be listening/reading, can help everyone feel more a part of the team. Services like Slack, which is particularly beneficial for its chat room–style feature, can serve as a virtual watercooler of sorts.

Schedule Face-to-Face Time
At the end of the day, nothing beats good old fashioned in-person interaction. Depending on the size of your company and your budget, the frequency of these encounters can be monthly, quarterly, or even annually. The point is: Bringing everyone together in the same room helps remote employees connect with their colleagues on a level that emails and even video chat doesn’t allow.

With just a few extra steps taken, even the most widely dispersed team of mobile workers can still develop and maintain a company culture that works for everyone involved and leaves no one feeling excluded.

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01.08
2020

Mobile Technology: All Hands On Deck

These days, technology is constantly and quickly changing. Just when you think you have the coolest device ever, an update comes out. Keeping up with current trends can be a challenge, so choosing the best mobile resource management (MRM) solution geared toward your needs can be a daunting task.

Just as you want the latest technology for personal use, you also want the best solution for your business. While providing the latest and greatest technology to your employees is essential, you also want to select a device or solution that is user-friendly and easy to operate.

Sharing Information Is Key
When selecting a mobile solution for employees, it is important to choose one that allows you to share information and transmit it from the office to the field. There are so many variables to take into consideration when researching and choosing the right application: product training, ease of integration with existing systems, and excellent customer service to support your application.

Sarah Howland, editor-in-chief of Field Technologies magazine, explained this in a real-life example:

“A friend of mine got into a fender bender and after a frustrating time spent with the other party involved and the police officer onsite filling out the accident report, she asked for a copy of it. Having noted during the conversation that the officer’s car was equipped with a rugged laptop computer and mobile printer, she assumed her request was a simple one. However, the officer replied by saying, ‘I can give you my handwritten notes and the incident number, but I don’t know how to work that thing.’”

Want Not, Waste Not
In order to get the most out of your technology, you must explore all of its capabilities and use it on a regular basis. Purchasing an effective technology is only the first step. When you deploy it, you must do so in a way that every user receives effective and adequate training. With workers in the field, logistics can prove to be a challenge. Training on devices can be best achieved via:

  • In-house methods and modules
  • Video tutorials
  • Step-by-step learning manuals

Get the most out of your mobile technology. Research the best technology for your business needs. Train yourself on how to properly use the device. Share information about the product’s capabilities with your team members. Use the product as often as you can. Your MRM solution should not only increase efficiency for your business, but should also be one in which your employees feel comfortable using.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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12.13
2019

Tips for Making Professional New Year’s Resolutions

As the year’s end approaches, it’s time to reflect on our successes, as well as the things we feel we could have done better. This is true on both a personal level and from a business perspective. It’s something that we do here at Actsoft, and it contributes greatly to our ability to move forward in our mission to help businesses be their very best. And it’s something we think every successful business owner should do as well.

Whether you call them New Year’s Resolutions or just business goals, as the curtain closes on 2019 and we prepare to usher in 2020, it’s important to have well-defined goals. Here are some suggestions.

Meet on a weekly basis to discuss business plans.
Operating off the cuff is almost never the way to go. Rather than wait to meet every month, quarter, or year, make it a point to meet more frequently to review what is currently working and what may need to be modified. Beyond the potential financial savings, it also assures that everyone remains in the loop.

Learn a new skill.
You may be great at what you do, but the moment you decide there’s no need to continue learning and growing is when you begin to stagnate. It could be discovering a new way of managing your team or even discovering a new hobby. The latter may sound odd, but having a healthy work-life balance can directly impact your ability to lead.

Start networking more.
Maybe you rely fully on word-of-mouth references for new jobs. A lot of businesses see tremendous success in that way. But try linking up with folks at a networking event. Not only could such experiences result in new business, but they could also lead to partnerships or new business ideas. If there are none in your area, you could start out by actually engaging with that pile of LinkedIn connections you’ve been collecting over the years.

Organize a volunteer outing.
Your community is the reason your business exists, so consider taking a day to give back to them. Invite your team to join you in volunteering your time to help any organization in need. You could even consider being a mentor to aspiring young entrepreneurs. Not only will you feel great in giving back, but it could also end up proving to be good business PR.

Learn to move on.
Are you following business practices that aren’t necessarily the best, simply because they’re the way it’s always been done? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” isn’t always the best practice in the business world. Use the new year as a catalyst for change all the way down to the fundamental ways you run your business. Chances are, there are plenty of processes that could stand to be revisited and improved.

Review the way you spend your time.
What does your day-to-day look like? Are you maximizing your time? Try cataloging exactly what you’re doing — and how much time everything takes — every day for two weeks. Review it all at the end and see if you’re actually making the most of your day. You may learn, for example, that you spend an excessive amount of time in meetings and decide you can eliminate (or consolidate) some to make room for more actionable activity.

This year, make it a goal to learn from the past to plan for an even brighter future.

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12.11
2019

How to Avoid Lawsuits With GPS Tracking Technology

In today’s economy, companies can be easy targets for people looking to make a quick buck. When it comes to defending assets in a lawsuit, it is critical to have evidence to back up claims or to defend against fraudulent ones. GPS tracking devices can now help save a company thousands or even millions of dollars in legal fees.

Employees and customers also see the opportunity to cheat the system. An unhappy employee may claim owed wages when work was never actually done. An unhappy customer may suggest that a large construction crew or field service company damaged their property. Now, it’s easy to review records, routes, photos, or signatures and verify if activity actually took place — or did not.

Customers often believe they can easily cash in when they see the name of a popular utility company on the side of a van. They may claim faulty service, damage, speeding, or even that a worker arrived late or didn’t even show up at all. Now, there’s proof to confirm or dispute such claims. With GPS tracking technology, companies can save money on legal fees while preserving their reputation.

Keep Workers Accountable
If one of your drivers is in an accident while on the clock, how can you verify whether they were driving dangerously or speeding? If you suspect that an employee was taking unauthorized time off from work and caused an accident while driving back to a job site, can you prove it? You can! When you’re using our solutions, a supervisor can review current and past worker locations, time of arrival, time of departure, work completed, etc. Plus, with the ability to take photos from a worksite and collect customer signatures right at the time of service, not only is there instant verification, but there’s also a quicker way to speed up payroll processes from the field to the office.

Make Your Case
GPS tracking can validate where any employee is, where they have been and when, and if they are/were within or outside the boundaries of a specific, predetermined area at any given time. In the event of an accident, there’s no need to rely on forgetful witnesses. If there was a time lapse between the incident and the claim, important details that make or break a case may be lost.

Save Money
Tracking solutions actually speed up claim processing and cut down on administrative costs. But the real savings comes from the reliability of historical data from GPS tracking to defend against phony claims. Such tracking solutions dramatically cut down administrative costs, keep insurance down, and help avoid unnecessary claims. There’s no need for an in-depth investigation, as GPS tracking system provides the data where and when you need it. This doesn’t just help prevent stress; it can also be expensive. But by keeping a clear record of your fleet activity, you can keep your premiums down and minimize unnecessary claims.

Keep Track
GPS tracking is designed to protect your drivers, save you money, and increase the productivity of your fleet. By keeping an independent record of your fleet’s activities, it’s easy to defend drivers that might be targeted with fraudulent claims, misconduct, or accusations.

Be prepared to defend your fleet against expensive lawsuits. When you install Actsoft’s Encore, you will be able to defend and protect your fleet against expensive lawsuits, save money, increase efficiency, and preserve your company’s reputation.

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12.06
2019

How to Help Your Employees Avoid Holiday Stress

This time of year can be stressful for everyone. As the temperatures continue to drop and the holidays draw ever closer, there are myriad factors — both inside and outside the workplace — that can really lay on the pressure, cause tensions to rise, and negatively affect job performances across the board. This is the time when people stress out about things like finances, increased production expectations due to seasonal vacations, and even the trepidatious road conditions they’re constantly faced with.

As an employer, it’s in your best interest to do whatever you can to facilitate productivity at your company. One of the best ways to do this is to keep your employees happy and as stress-free as possible. Here, a few simple extra steps you can take to help make this happen.

Schedule time off well in advance.
When the holidays roll around, it’s not ideal to have last-minute time-off requests. Your employees may feel extra pressure if they suddenly discover they’re needed to help out due to unplanned PTO. During this notoriously busy vacation time, it makes sense to require that employees submit requests ahead of time. You’re left with plenty of time to schedule accordingly, and your team has time to mentally prepare for busy days.

Schedule an event.
A holiday-related celebration for employees gives them something to look forward to; a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. If business demands allow for it, hosting during regular office hours makes it even more appealing.

Provide food.
It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way. Buying lunch for the team on an especially busy day — and making sure they have some work-free time to enjoy it — can be a gesture that prevents someone from reaching their breaking point.

Ease up the dress code.
If you have a stringent dress code — and interaction with clients allows for it — loosen up some of the rules this time of year. You’d be surprised at how much a simple thing like wearing jeans can do to boost morale.

Think about deadlines.
Not everything has a hard deadline, so if there’s a project that can be pushed back or expedited, let your team know. Give them the flexibility to work at an efficient pace. And try not to assign big projects that require a last-minute scramble. Personal lives are exceptionally busy as well this time of year, so the simple act of being mindful of deadlines in relation to the approaching holidays can make all the difference.

Give them the gift of efficiency.
Our suite of tools helps make any workplace a much more efficient place to be, lifting a lot of the stressors that can bog your team down. With features that help manage workloads — especially beneficial during this busy holiday season — and make tedious processes more expeditious, Encore can help your team accomplish more while feeling less overwhelmed.

It’s the little things that can make a big difference in the moment. But it’s the long-term planning, such as using an effective solution like Encore, that makes a huge, lasting difference. Happy holidays!

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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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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