6 Things to Look for in a Telematics Provider

Ron Cordova,  Compliance Manger, Zonar By Ron Cordova
Compliance Manger, Zonar
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Smart fleet management is an investment, in more ways than upfront costs. Budgets are important, but so is overall service, support and how well the technology fits your fleet. Not to mention the time it takes to research telematics providers and technology, implement the solution, train people to use it and troubleshoot problems.

Choosing the right solution is about more than just costs. You’ll work with that provider and use that technology for the foreseeable future—which makes choosing the right provider and the right solution equally essential.

1. Prevents financial surprises

Every business has a budget, including yours. The right provider will work with you to make the most of it because that provider cares more about your success than making the sale.

Look for a provider that:

  • designs and develops quality devices, and offers 24/7/365 support if any device fails
  • offers detailed reporting so you can make informed decisions to reduce costs
  • partners with other companies to offer integration with third-party applications—without charging extra
  • offers the option of using the provider’s data plan instead of having to choose—and pay for—your own
  • offers managed tablets as part of a well-rounded, multi-faceted solution
  • ensures every aspect of the solution functions as expected to maximize your uptime

What to avoid

When you prioritize price over quality, you end up working with a provider that does the same. And you can still pay for it in the long run.

Cheap devices

These devices save money up front, but cost time, money and downtime when they fail. And because you get what you pay for, cheaper devices will often come with limited functionality.

Applications only

If the provider only offers an application, you’ll need to provide the hardware. Depending on the application’s purpose, you may need to ensure it meets technical standards, such as compliance with the ELD mandate. Both can easily cost time and money not originally in your budget.

Integration that costs extra

Paying for add-ins so the provider’s technology integrates with your existing line-of-business applications adds to your costs.

Responsibility for your own data plan

A number of telematics providers offer open devices only; data plan not included. For some customers, this makes sense. For others, it’s another provider to choose, another cost to pay and another aspect of the solution to manage.

Long-term contracts with penalties

Watch for contracts that include stiff penalties for exiting early. Some telematics providers lock you in to a long-term contract before you realize you’re better off elsewhere.

2. Ensures compliance

Your fleet needs to adhere to all applicable state and federal compliance regulations. A smart fleet management provider that cares about your success will work with you to ensure the solution:

  • fully complies with applicable regulations
  • is prepared for the next wave of change
  • is easy for all applicable personnel to use

Look for a provider that:

  • has a dedicated team of experienced compliance and safety experts who know regulations inside and out
  • participates in several associations, organizations and events to keep its experts and leadership on the frontlines
  • deliberately built an ELD solution that makes HoS compliance easier for drivers, managers and law enforcement

Few providers offer that support. Zonar sets you up for successful compliance from the start. Our patented solution, Electronically Verified Inspection Reporting (EVIR®) verifies pre- and post-trip inspections are done properly—every time. Otherwise, you risk accidental non-compliance and consequences that vary based on the violation.

3. Offers ‘round-the-clock support

Many fleets operate around the clock. Many others at least operate outside normal business hours. And problems happen at any time. A provider that prioritizes your success will have support available every moment of every day.

For example, Zonar:

  • offers customer care 24/7/365—no exception
  • offers a complimentary ELD transition package
  • will support you during deployment and after sales

Zonar implements, tests and monitors service to ensure your solution continues working as it should. We also have offices in multiple U.S. locations to support you nationwide.

4. Makes SaaS a priority

A quality smart fleet management solution includes more than just hardware. A number of providers offer software as a service (SaaS) such as cloud-based reporting and data access. However, when your SaaS provider suffers unplanned downtime and interrupted service, so do you.

Find one that’s diligent about keeping it to a minimum.

Look for a provider that:

  • ensures maximum uptime so you have uninterrupted access to the solution’s tools
  • integrates its SaaS solution with other line-of-business applications
  • offers the option of choosing and using your own mobile devices
  • saves you money on add-ons and integration fees

When choosing a provider that integrates with other applications, look for one with a publicly available application programming interface (open API) and range of developer partners. Such a platform enables the provider’s customers and developer partners to pull data such as engine diagnostics, maintenance data and other fleet information.

A provider with deeper SaaS integration makes your smart fleet management solution:

  • more comprehensive
  • more likely to fit with your fleet’s existing applications
  • more readily expandable as your needs grow

5. Offers products with essential features and tools

Few fleets are alike. But every fleet needs a solution with essential features that make life easier and operations more efficient. Let’s look at some examples of Zonar technology.

Roadside View™

An exclusive feature of Zonar Logs, our electronic logging device (ELD) solution for hourse of service (HoS) compliance, Roadside View makes it easy for law enforcement to view drivers’ logs during a commercial roadside inspection.

Compliance Insights

Another exclusive feature of Zonar Logs, Compliance Insights is an effective, efficient dashboard available within Zonar Ground Traffic Control®. Compliance Insights provides access to key driver data such as live statuses, availability, performance and hours of service.

Certified third-party applications

Third-party applications that have been tested and certified compatible with the Zonar Connect™ and Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 tablets provide a level of ready-integration on which you can rely. You can also download Google Play Certified apps to further expand your fleet’s capabilities.

6. Is an established industry veteran

Over the past few years, a number of telematics providers have cropped up with the primary goal of making sales, not ensuring their customers’ success. Ideally, you’d choose a smart fleet management provider that’s well established in the industry and has a history of developing new technologies. Even better, one in which other industry heavy-hitters invest.

For example, Zonar:

  • was established in 2001, with the goal to make the roads safer for everyone
  • announced its partnership with Daimler in 2011
  • became a Daimler minority investment in 2015
  • has been part of the Continental family since 2016
  • is line-fit on a number of partner vehicles, including Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner® and Western Star®

Learn more

Every fleet is different. But every fleet needs a solution that fits. Contact us to learn more. We can help you determine if our solution is a right fit. No commitment, just a conversation.

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