Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a game-changing idea for your business even when it’s staring you in the face.
It happened to Jeromy Fritz about five years ago. Fritz is the founder and President of Presort Inc., a bulk mail, printing, delivery, and direct mail specialist based in St. Louis, Mo. During the normal course of his direct advertising workflow, Fritz sees dozens of pitches for the newest goods and services that his clients are trying to get in front of consumers and other businesses. Around this time, he caught a glimpse of a postcard mailing from Presort that focused on installing GPS systems on school buses, corporate cars, and delivery vehicles. The notion of digitally tracking Presort’s own fleet of 18 trucks intrigued Fritz. But he decided not to pull the trigger and let the idea slip to the back of his mind.
“Sometimes you look at things the wrong way,” says Fritz. “At the time all I could see was that I’d be spending extra money on something that wouldn’t directly bring in any additional profit. I didn’t see the potential savings. It’s just part of the growth process.”
Fate has a way of accelerating that growth process.
Not long after Fritz had seen and largely forgotten the GPS idea, one of his drivers got into an accident in the company truck. The situation was “he said/she said” with one vehicle allegedly pulling out in front of the other. But the damage was indisputable, not only to the Presort truck but also to the company’s insurance rates. Fritz remembered the GPS system and pondered—had there been a tracking device on the truck, it might have provided precise data on where the vehicle was, how fast it was going, how quickly the driver applied the brake, and other facts that might have helped the insurance companies decipher what actually happened.
“Had the driver had the GPS, who knows? It might’ve saved us money on our insurance,” says Fritz. “It was definitely an ‘a-ha’ moment.”
As Fritz implemented the GPS program and its cloud-based solution, other benefits for the company quickly became apparent. The geofencing could set parameters for where trucks should and shouldn’t be and track traffic patterns in certain areas. It could send the dispatcher a multitude of useful data, such as when and where a truck broke down, when a driver exceeded the speed limit, or when they were making unexpected stops. Fritz says Presort’s crew of roughly 15 drivers, most of them long tenured, accepted the new system because it gave them concrete metrics on how they performed that came in handy during annual employee reviews. It also aided in decision-making processes for the company’s popular and long standing Employee of the Month incentive program.
Beyond efficiency, the new technology also saved money in terms of fleet upkeep and maintenance. Now the dispatcher could get a regular automatic report detailing everything from total mileage to when a particular driver was perhaps too hard on the brakes to when it was time for a tune up or oil change.
Adding value for customers
Fritz says by far the greatest impact the new GPS system has had on the company is the added value for the customers. Now, Presort could connect the GPS into the consumer online tracking system. Customers and clients can tell where their driver is at all times and track their deliveries from the time it leaves Presort’s hub to the moment it arrives in the mail.
“Now there’s 100 percent transparency between us and the customer,” says Fritz. “It’s added value far beyond anything I ever imagined.”
It’s a lesson that Fritz has taken to heart. Now he makes it a point to look at all opportunities from multiple angles beyond just cost and profit. And he’s also more aware of possible solutions, even to problems he might not yet have that are often hiding in plain sight.