04.30
2019

Can Natural Gas Fleets Save Money?

Managers of any business that owns a fleet of vehicles are always on the search for options that will save money. It’s crucial to always be on the cutting edge of technology. Especially with fuel prices steadily climbing, finding thrifty fuel alternatives is a must. Perhaps a company could save some green by converting their fleet to go green.

In recent years, Ford started to offer compressed natural gas and propane-ready gaseous prep packages for V8 engines in its F-150s. According to FleetOwner, this was done as a response to customers reaching out to Ford requesting alternative-fuel capabilities, even for its larger 5.0-liter V8 engines.

But what does this mean money-wise? Can natural gas vehicles actually save companies money?

Manufacturers for the vehicles estimate up-fitting for pickups and vans can cost up to $13,000 per vehicle. In the short run, alternative fuels are an investment. Reports by The Tulsa World and FOX 13 of Salt Lake City see that about three cents per mile driven is saved for a vehicle.

The vehicles in the Tulsa World and FOX 13 reports (transit buses and a news van) are a bit different than the Ford vehicles, which will come with the upgrades and the costs included in the vehicle price. But at three cents per mile, it may take a while to offset the estimated $13,000 of costs and start saving money. For a vehicle that drives 25,000 miles per year, it would take nearly 18 years to begin saving money.

Alternative fuel might not be the best option to save money at the moment, but as technology improves it will become a more realistic option. FleetOwner’s article urged that performance doesn’t drop off with these alternative fuel vehicles, which will be able to tow the same amount of cargo as a traditional gasoline vehicle.

Alternative fuel may not save money for your fleet of vehicles this year or next, but natural gas fleets are a growing trend that fleet owners will want to keep an eye on.

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04.24
2019

3 Ways to Make Your Commutes From Work Less Stressful

Those dreaded red brake lights illuminating the interstate for miles on end at 5 p.m. every day are something that no one looks forward to. As heavy rush-hour traffic can be especially stressful after having just completed a full eight hours at the office, it’s important to do whatever you can to experience smoother trips home from work. Here are three tips to make those lengthy commutes from the office a little more manageable.

Listen to audio

Whether it’s music, a podcast, or the radio, having something to listen to while you’re on your way home can be immensely beneficial. Education-based audio may help you pass lengthy bouts of idle time by teaching you new things or helping you become a more well-rounded person. However, there’s still something to be said about relaxation and entertainment, and through avenues like music, you can experience both while driving home safely.

Optimize your schedule

Are there particular times of the day where you regularly notice traffic to be at its worst?  If so, it’ll help to tailor your daily schedule outside of the office a bit more toward avoiding driving far distances during those times. Choosing to meet a friend for dinner nearby after work or exercising at a gym close to your job are just two examples of activities that can help you dodge the worst of rush-hour’s snails-pace congestion, while also being beneficial to your well-being. It may not seem like that big of a difference at face value, but even delaying your usual departure home from the office by an additional 30 minutes to work out or eat first could end up saving you an hour of time that would’ve been spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Find better routes

If a backroad route is longer mileage-wise than a commute home via the interstate is, consider it as an option if it offers less congestion. Even still, if that route takes you five minutes longer to get home when compared to traveling on a jammed highway, it may be less stressful for you to have a drive where there’s as little stop-and-go as possible.

Through these tips, we hope that you’ll be able to experience safer, more manageable commutes during the work week. For solutions to the traffic inefficiencies that your mobile workforce may be regularly dealing with, see how Actsoft can assist.

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04.24
2019

The Benefits of Spring Cleaning

If cleanliness is next to godliness, then the changeover from winter to spring is a very important time of year. Spring cleaning gives us all a chance for a fresh start. Organizing your home or office can give you a blissful feeling.

Not only does organization free up space and create a good feeling; being organized can also improve productivity. According to the Small Business Chron, having structure in a company can lead to how efficiently it runs. Communication is especially key to fostering creativity and growth in a working environment.

Literal organization and cleanliness are huge, too. It’s proven that eliminating clutter can make your workforce better. A study conducted by researchers at Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute concluded that working in an environment with disorder negatively affects focus and workflow. This means a messy office riddled with paperwork and work orders is a nightmare for companies looking to run a smooth operation.

At Actsoft we know of a way to get rid of the clutter and improve efficiency: consolidation. We’re not all neat freaks who have everything alphabetized and organized by size, shape, color, and date. But with Wireless Forms, you can turn all of those paper forms into an electronic form that can be accessed from a mobile device, filled out with ease, sent back and forth from employees to management, and stored without the need for a room full of filing cabinets.

Wireless Forms is a slick solution that is easy to use. Simply use its web-based form generator to create an online version of existing forms, send them to employees, and then save space, trees, and money by cutting out the paper. Wireless Forms is perfect for replacing work orders. They can also be used to keep inventory and make receipts for customers. Plus it comes with a reporting feature to let companies keep track of vital company information.

Spring cleaning allows us a fresh start to the new year; to leap forward and head in the right direction in 2015. Don’t miss the opportunity to make your business more efficient and organized. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness.

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04.19
2019

7 Tips for Being Successful

Success is the ultimate goal in life. No matter the endeavor you pursue, the ultimate goal at the end of the day is to be successful in whatever it is you’re doing. No journey is without its fair share of bumps (or potholes) along its path, but through any trials and tribulations, the end goal is always the same: thwart failure and achieve success.

There are plenty of paths you can take along your journey to success and, while outcomes for everyone may vary, there are certain patterns of behavior followed by those who are (almost) universally regarded as successful in the business world. Deciding to follow these may be the key to guiding you along a similar road while avoiding as many obstacles as possible.

Become a problem solver.
It’s one thing to be able to identify problems. Anyone can do that, really. It takes an adept, forward-thinking leader to craft a working solution to these issues.

Speak up.
Being a wallflower never helped anyone get ahead. When opportunities to speak up arise, take hold of them and speak your mind. Engage in conversations with your colleagues and, in doing so, you demonstrate to everyone that you have something to contribute and you have the gumption to put it out there.

Focus on results.
Rather than just calling attention to actions you’ve taken, take heed of the actual benefits that came about as a result. Don’t oversimplify your endeavors with blanket statements. Instead, home in on any measurable effects that you were directly responsible for (e.g. cost savings).

Commit to learning.
It doesn’t matter how far you’ve come in life. There is always room to learn more. Education is a lifelong commitment, and the most successful people know this and constantly strive to consume more knowledge or learn a new skill.

Own your mistakes.
Nobody is perfect. Once you not only accept that you’re bound to make mistakes (and plenty of them), but that you embrace those missteps as learning experiences, you’ll be leagues ahead of those who would rather feign perfection.

Learn to say no.
Sure, you may think it’s a good look agreeing to help whenever someone reaches out, but there are a couple of problems with this. You run the risk of stretching yourself too thin and not being able to follow through with your commitments. and because of this, you may fast find yourself losing focus on the bigger picture, failing to complete major tasks that are ultimately much more important.

Never stop.
When you reach a goal you set for yourself, even if that goal seemed so out of reach at the start of your journey, that doesn’t mean you’re done. Truly successful people use each major milestone as a jumping-off point to begin the trek to the next level.

Success is achievable by anyone who has the drive and determination to continue pushing toward it. Keeping these tips in mind just may help you get there a little bit faster.

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04.12
2019

5 Tips for Efficient Telecommuting

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that some (if not all) of your team is at least partially mobile. Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more commonplace for industries of all types to make the shift from traditional office-style environments to those that are mobile friendly. For some, this consists of a crew of telecommuters who are able to successfully execute their responsibilities from satellite locations (wherein that satellite may very well be a home office). For others, the nature of their work requires them to be largely in the field, whether it’s drumming up new business or servicing customers’ needs.

As a manager, it’s your task to oversee these employees and help keep them on track. Luckily for you, the solutions provided by our software help ease the stress that inherently comes with this type of responsibility, by giving you detailed insight into their daily work-related activity through a slew of tools like GPS Tracking, Wireless Forms, and Timekeeping.

These tools are extremely helpful to your remote staff as well, allowing them to cut precious minutes from their tasks, enabling them to take on even more responsibility. But on top of these tools, it’s also important to make sure your remote employees have all the resources they need to effectively manage themselves when they don’t frequent the home office very often … or at all. The following tips will help your team take on the day full-throttle, no matter where they are.

Create a workspace.
Sure, the benefit of working from home means that you can, theoretically, meander from room to room at your leisure. But carving out a dedicated workspace helps you get in the right headspace to start off a productive day of work, and it helps keep you organized. Plus, it sends the message to others (e.g. your family) that you’re “at work” and that you need to focus.

Keep regular hours.
You may think one of the biggest perks about working at home is having more of a fluid schedule. But what happens if someone else on your team needs something, reaches out, and you’re M.I.A.? It’s not a good look. Instead, make sure you keep the same hours as everyone else and if something comes up and your schedule needs to change, make sure the right people know.

Get dressed.
This one may sound a little odd but think about it. If you’re a telecommuter, it may be overwhelmingly tempting to spend your days comfortably lounging around your home in your favorite pair of cozy pajamas while you plug away. We’re not saying you have to put on a three-piece suit, here. But sticking to a normal routine — one that includes ditching your PJs and getting dressed for work in the morning — puts you in the right frame of mind to get the day started.

Check in regularly.
You know the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Don’t let that be the case for you. Yes, your management team has access to insights related to your daily activity, but you still want to make known your presence and progress in whatever projects are on your plate. Schedule regular times to either call or email managers (and even colleagues) with updates. It reinforces the message that, while you may not be seen, you’re still hard at work.

Make time for face-to-face interaction.
If you’re reasonably close enough to a physical home office (or have the option to fly), make an effort to put in some face time when you can. For those you don’t interact with frequently, it reminds them of your presence. More importantly, it gives you that in-person connection with colleagues that you can’t really get, even with video calls. Use these opportunities to discuss current projects, brainstorm new ideas, and solidify relationships on a more personal level.

Working remotely certainly requires an entirely different approach than the traditional office setting. But with a few adjustments (and a much-needed boost from our software), you’ll see your team’s productivity reach entirely new limits.

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04.09
2019

The Importance of Driver Safety

The weather is warmer, school is coming to a close for the kids, and vacation season is nearly upon us. It’s a happy time of year with the snow just about all melted away. It only means one thing: more activity on the roadways.

Anyone who drives on a regular basis, whether it’s to and from work, or someone who drives a vehicle for a living, knows it’s imperative to be safe on the roadways. Make sure the tires are at a good grade, make sure the oil is fresh, and everything else with your vehicle is completely safe.

Still, the biggest component of driving safely is, well, driver safety. Things become tougher on the roadways with more and more vehicles clogging up lanes. This is especially true in areas that have high volumes of traffic and less than three lanes on each side for traffic.

Driving in an area with smalltown design, but big city aspirations can be a nightmare. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, as many as 100,000 people will clog the roadways during the day in certain spots of the highway. Despite the large volume of drivers, there are only two lanes in each direction for traffic. Add onto that about 100 yards for entry ramps, which is not a ton of room to merge, it’s not a great situation for hundreds of vehicles to go from two and one-half lanes to two.

The four-lane highway that may be better served as a six-lane roadway is not unique to Allentown. It may seem silly for experienced drivers, but it never hurts to have a reminder of safe driving habits for roadways that are difficult to maneuver. Anyone from an urban area is used to crowded roadways, but with plenty of lanes to get around. Anyone from a rural area is used to dealing with tight roads. Combining the two may not be a daily occurrence for every driver out there. Make sure you’re taking every precaution necessary to make it home at the end of the day.

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04.05
2019

How to Improve Teamwork

We’ve discussed at length various topics that play integral roles in contributing to a more positive, effective, and efficient workforce. Today, we’re taking a look at another important variable that is absolutely essential to the success of your company: teamwork.

Think of your company as a single machine. A machine is composed of a lot of moving parts. In order for that machine to properly function, each of the moving parts must successfully perform its designated task in tandem with all of the other parts, which are simultaneously fulfilling their functions. If even one part malfunctions, the whole machine begins to break down.

Likewise, you need your crew to work together in order to keep the machine that is your company pushing ahead. Without that symbiosis, you’ll eventually come to a standstill. Keeping that in mind, following these tips will help facilitate an increase of teamwork among your staff.

Encourage casual socializing.
Okay, we get it. Not everyone is going to want to meet up to hang with their colleagues outside of business hours. But that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with ways for your staff to get to know each other on a more personal level. Organizing off-site team-building activities or planning company-wide (or department-wide, depending on the size of your company) lunches can be excellent opportunities for your crew to get to know each other outside of the confines of their work-related to-do lists. This type of interpersonal bonding oftentimes carries over into day-to-day office life and helps increase trust and respect.

Clearly designate roles.
Even if you’re a relaxed sort of person and want that reflected in the way you run your office, it’s essential to have a definitive outline of everyone’s roles and responsibilities. It’s virtually impossible to expect your team to work together if it’s unclear what each person is ultimately supposed to do. You’ll either end up with a lot of confused staff members or you may even find yourself with one or two people that are disproportionately delegating tasks to others, creating animosity that can easily begin to run rampant.

Set realistic, tangible goals.
Give your team something real to work toward. Despite the fact that everyone has different job responsibilities, if you let them know that the company has a specific goal to reach and that they all play a role in helping the company reach it, there’s ultimately no choice but to work together in order to cross the finish line. Anyone that wants to be successful in their own position will quickly realize their success is dependent on the company’s success, and the company’s success necessitates collaboration among all parties involved.

Resist the urge to micro-manage.
Perhaps you’re the type that always wants to make sure everything is in perfect order. Likely, that acute attention to detail contributed to your path toward entrepreneurship. But when it comes to day-to-day operations, you have to put your faith in the team you put together, trust that they have the company’s (and your) best interest at heart, and resist the urge to interfere. Without you interjecting yourself into every step of the process, employees feel that level of trust increase and also become more empowered to collaborate with each other on ways to best get the job done and further prove their value to you.

Lead by example.
This is probably the most important rule on the entire list. You can’t expect that your staff will be encouraged to work symbiotically if you’re not doing the same. Sure, you’re the big boss, but you’re also the most vested in the success of the company, so it’s your responsibility to work with your team to make sure business is running smoothly, voices are being heard, and that your role in the company is seen by everyone. Most importantly, this delivers the message that you’re not just the person at the top delegating orders to everyone else; it reminds them that you’re all a part of the same team.

With just a few simple adjustments, your team will start to naturally develop better teamwork habits that will ultimately contribute to the continued success and growth of your company.

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04.03
2019

April Fools’ Day

Hopefully, no one got you too good this year. The unofficial holiday of pranksters passed with the shift of the calendar from March to April. Sometimes pranks are fun, like in this list Forbes put together to celebrate the day. Other times — not so much.

As fun as the spaghetti incident from that Forbes article may have been, with pranks there is the potential for an Orson Welles–style scaring. We’re sure the percentage of people who were fooled by Welles’ radio hoax didn’t appreciate the ruse then nearly as much as the rest of us who know of it today. Being deceived isn’t always a laughing matter, but that holds even truer when money is on the line.

A company with a fleet of vehicles certainly can’t afford to be deceived by what’s happening in the field. While Orson Welles’ radio performance of “War of the Worlds” may have caused panic among some of his listeners, the ramifications for a business can be much more costly. As we learned from Jeff Boone of Napa Auto Parts in Louisiana, a large fleet can waste as much as $20,000 a year in gas by idling. You can’t let yourself get fooled into wasting that much money.

When it comes to your business, a sure way to guard against being caught off guard is by having clear visibility into your company. With Actsoft, we can offer management the ability to track a fleet of vehicles with precision. It allows companies to plan the optimal routes for drivers and monitor vehicles on a map via GPS. Businesses can receive scheduled reports that let you know if users spend too much time idling, constantly go off route, clock in or out at undesired times, and if drivers are speeding. Knowing these metrics streamlines the efficiency of your business’s fleet.

A little prank here or there isn’t the worst thing in the world; no Martians have landed in New Jersey. However, it’s imperative to know exactly what is happening behind the scenes of your business or else risk being bamboozled by your bottom line, which is no laughing matter. Make sure your company is making the most of each day and running as efficiently as possible.

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03.29
2019

How to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

When is the last time you shut yourself off? The last time you really shut yourself off? And by this we mean, at the end of a long day at work — whether you’re in the back office or out in the field — you truly just left work behind. When you packed up for the weekend, you resisted the pressing urge to check your emails. Or when you booked that much-anticipated vacation, you closed your inbox and trusted in your team to get the job done while you’re away enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Think long and hard. More likely than not, you’re hard-pressed to remember when this happened. Or at least when it happened consistently.

Today we have an increasingly difficult time separating ourselves from work. There are a lot of reasons for this, but technology plays a huge role. We’re all so connected, it’s easier than ever to stay involved no matter where you are or what time of day it is.

At Actsoft, it’s our mission to streamline your company’s processes to help transform it into the best, most efficient, well-oiled machine it can be. And we do that through our cutting-edge software that, in part, keeps you connected to your team from anywhere on the globe. This technology can make vast improvements to your bottom line and productivity goals and, though it can keep you connected at all times, we also see the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The beauty of our software is that it also allows other team members the opportunity to actively manage the same day-to-day activities you can keep tabs on. Plus, everything is logged in the system — not to mention, you can set up reports to run on just about everything you can imagine — so all of that information will be there for you when you log back into the system.

All that being said, if you find that maintaining a healthy work-life balance isn’t exactly your strongest suit, we have some tips that can introduce a little equilibrium into your routine.

Create a schedule.
List out all the things you need/want to accomplish each week. This includes work/meetings, exercise, family time, etc. Schedule everything into your calendar, starting with the high-priority items first. (And yes, even throw some quiet downtime into the mix.) Commit to keeping this schedule just as you would when you confirm meetings for work.

Find shorter alternatives.
We get it. Things come up. Let’s say you make it a goal to enjoy one relaxing meal with friends each week, but you become bogged down with an exceptionally busy couple of days at the office. Try to make time for quick drinks or a coffee date, instead. It’ll take a little less time, but at least you’ll still be able to decompress.

Just say no.
Establishing a healthy work-life balance doesn’t mean you need to fill up your calendar with things to do with other people. Alone time plays a big part in this as well. So even if your schedule is open one night, don’t feel obligated to say yes if a friend or coworker asks you to go out somewhere. It’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to decline in lieu of a quiet night at home.

Pick a time to leave and stick to it.
It can be easier said than done, but sometimes speaking a thing out loud helps make it actually happen. Early on in the day, decide on your target departure time and make it known. (e.g. “I need to leave at 6 today so if you need anything from me, please reach out by 4.” This helps commit you to actually leaving on time, and ideally, it means your colleagues will respect that hard stop time.

Manage your workday efficiently.
It can be difficult to set aside time for leisure if you aren’t making the most of your workday. Are you so inundated with meetings that you can’t focus on actual work until you get home? Whittle away the number of meetings you attend. Delegate to others and then simply have quick updates sent to you. Find ways that allow you to maximize your daytime hours so you can take back the weeknights and weekends.

Trust in others.
Perhaps one of the most important things to remind yourself is that, even if you’re the owner of a business, it’s perfectly fine to leave most of the day-to-day operations in the hands of your very capable staff. You chose them for a reason, so have faith that they’ll keep your business running smoothly when you’re not there.

With just a few changes, you can truly transform your entire routine. Starting off by introducing our waste-eliminating software is a great first step. With its ability to refine your daily operations and automate once-lengthy processes, you’ll fast be on your way to a much more manageable schedule.

The rest is up to you.

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03.22
2019

How to Stay Happy at Work

Did you realize that the majority of adults will spend one-third of their lives at work? This isn’t limited to just the United States. That’s the average for around the entire world. Since we spend so much of our time contributing to the success of the companies we work for, doesn’t it make sense to put forth the effort to make that experience an enjoyable one?

Rather than just passively going through the motions day in and out, there are a few steps you can take to help keep yourself happy while at work. Just as staying on top of even the most seemingly minor details is essential to doing any job safely, efficiently, and effectively, making small efforts here and there can drastically affect your outlook each time you clock in for the day.

Love what you do.
It almost goes without saying — but we’re saying it anyway — that when you have a passion for your job, whether you’re in the field or holding down the fort back at the office, you are inherently happier. Work feels like less of a chore and more like you’re working toward a personal goal.

Stay organized.
This may not seem like it would rank high on the list of things that keep a person happy at work, but think about it. Unnecessary clutter, discombobulated inboxes, and a general feeling of chaos permeating your workspace can make each moment utterly stressful. We’ve spoken about the importance of keeping organized before. By minimizing the disorder, you’re able to accomplish tasks faster, keep on track, and it also helps eliminate the constant worry that comes when you’re so frazzled, it’s impossible to maintain any peace of mind.

Personalize your space.
If you work in a setting where you have your own dedicated space, bring in some personal effects to make that otherwise uninspired workspace a little homier. This could be a couple of photos or just some décor that helps transform your corner of the office into something more comfortable, welcoming, and inviting.

Leave personal drama at home.
We get it. Everyone has a life outside of work. And that life often has its own sets of real problems that can come up. While it can be difficult (or sometimes impossible) to completely forget about your worries, it’s important not to let them keep you bogged down while at work. It’s sort of like how you do your best to leave work behind when you go home, except the other way around.

Keep active.
It might seem like weird advice when it comes to the workplace, but if you have a particularly sedentary job, it’s important to get up and move around from time to time. Get that blood flowing. Any form of exercise, even if it’s just a lap or two around the office a couple of times a day, releases endorphins which directly contribute to feelings to happiness.

Take vacations.
More than half of all Americans threw away vacation days in 2017. Reasons for the lack of use vary from feelings of guilt to anxiety about work piling up while away. But any healthy work environment actively encourages everyone to use their allotted time. Taking regular breaks from work — breaks in which you are truly disconnected from the happenings of the office — are important to your mental wellbeing. Going on vacation recharges you and improves both your mood in the office and your job performance.

Going to work is a fact of life that is unavoidable for most of us. But by taking a few extra steps to change your approach, you can help to shape it into something that you truly enjoy doing each and every day.

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