J.J. Keller officially launched its online fleet management solution, FleetMentor on July 1, after six months of beta testing. Although the site is just a month old, the company has already sold more than 200 subscriptions and is working on its first product enhancements, according to Rustin Keller, corporate internet products manager for J.J. Keller.
Totally web-based, FleetMentor bundles together more than 60 interactive tools and resources designed to help fleets more effectively manage operations, personnel and safety, the company said. FleetMentor provides business information, including tools for creating salary and pay packages, help with DOT and OSHA recordkeeping requirements, tracking repair and maintenance costs and much more.
“There are lots of services out there, and some are very good and very sophisticated,” noted Keller. “FleetMentor integrates tools for all aspects of a fleet business into one subscription-based service. It is not really high-tech, either. In fact, there is no set-up; no IT involved. You can start using the service five minutes after you buy it.”
All information users store on the system is kept confidential, but in aggregate, it provides some useful insights into the state of the truck fleet business today, according to Keller. “We are not watching the data, but we are watching the questions people ask,” he said. “Everybody out there is being squeezed by the same fuel costs, for instance, so everybody is looking for ways to get more efficient. People are definitely looking for the tools to do that.
“We are seeing some fleets get hurt by the current conditions, but others are thriving,” he said. “Price increases, such as fuel, don’t seem to impact the organizations that are well-managed. Fleets that went into this high-cost period strong appear to be doing the best. It is a lot harder on businesses that were already having trouble before things really got tough. Once rates are adjusted to account for fuel cost increases, it will become a level playing field again. This downturn is forcing changes, though, such as using new technologies like online services and automated driver logs to improve efficiency and reduce costs.”
The company is also getting requests for multi-modal tools, according to Keller, a sign that some freight is shifting to rail. “We certainly get requests for our products to be multi-modal,” he said. “Trucking is what FleetMentor is all about, but fleets want to know how to interact with ports and rail, for example, and we do cover that.
“In addition to fuel prices, safety, accident prevention, recruiting and retention always seem to be jockeying for the top of the importance list,” Keller added. “A fleet’s safety record and its driver turnover rates are considered to be a key metric that prospective customers look at to help determine for how well a fleet is managed. That hasn’t changed and we don’t see it changing.
According to Keller, FleetMentor seems to be the best fit for small to mid-sized fleets of all types, 10 to 500 vehicles in size. Subscriptions are $795 per year, per user and there are also some quantity discounts. This month, the company plans to release it first upgrade—enhancements to the vehicle inventory management system to enable fleets to track more types of equipment, including leased equipment.