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Good Things Come, Be Ready: How to Prepare for an Increase in Business

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Will it scale?

Google “How to appear smarter in meetings?” There you will find a list of 10 items. #6 is “Ask ‘Will it scale’ no matter what it is.” While this advice is jokingly designed millennials working at start-ups that are increasingly expected to churn out brilliance like they are Mark Zuckerberg’s clone. The advice has a vein of truth. Truth that has moved from start-up land to Main Street. Truth that is now applicable to small businesses. Whatever they are doing, it needs to scale. People, management, equipment, and especially technology, all of it needs to scale. In order to take full advantage of an increase in business, things need to get bigger and then go back to a smaller size if or when business decreases.

 

Knowledge is Power

The first technology to start using is telematics. Telematics is essentially any kind of remote device that transmits data to a computer system. In our context, from a car or other vehicle to a server. Firstly, it allows tracking of mileage. Not just how many miles were driven in a year or month, but intricate data. Data recording each vehicle’s miles per day or hour and location. The kind of data that allows business owners to track down exact answers to big questions. Next, it records precise vehicle usage data. Slow, fast, where, when, how often, driven hard, drive carefully, it’s “like being in the passenger seat” so the saying goes. Lastly, it allows cutting edge diagnostic capabilities. It works like this. The check engine light on a vehicle comes on. It could be anything. The business owner gets a notification that a check engine light has lit on one of his vehicles, but is something benign and he instructs his driver to finish deliveries for the day, avoiding unnecessary downtime. Downtime that would include taking said vehicle to a mechanic just to find out that the big bad check engine light was tripped without an error code which can happen periodically. There was literally no problem.

 

Get It Under Control

Fleet Management is the other technology to start using. While as much a method of organizing as a technology, Fleet Management is the art/science that allows rental car companies, an ancient industry by today’s standards, to stay a float in the age of Uber and the sharing economy. (Rental Car Companies face challenges) We’ll discuss in another blog how this works for them, but the lesson is that they navigate business in a sure way with information gathered from their fleets to make decisions and you should do the same. Carmine makes all the things that big companies, like rental car companies, do with a large staff possible for small businesses without a large staff. So what makes Fleet Management? 1. Tracking vehicles. Just having some idea of what they are doing, where they are going, how many miles they are driving, and how drivers are handling themselves out on the road. 2. Optimizing vehicle utilization makes sure that vehicles are making the most money they possibly can for your business. Not over used, not under used, vehicle utilization is just the right balance. 3. Being able to respond to events in the field. In the case of small businesses, that means rerouting vehicles if a customer’s needs change or responding quickly if a vehicle has an emergency. 4. Tracking maintenance. Keeping tight control of past and future maintenance enable vehicles to age predictably, and avoid mechanical catastrophes. 5. Cost of fuel, assets, and maintenance. Tracking the costs of these three variables can make the difference between seizing or missing an opportunity for increased business. 6. Risk management is managing what could possibly go wrong. Fleet Management allows Identification of potential risks and assessment of those risks enabling businesses to know and manage their liabilities before scaling anything. Scaling is not simply hiring more people anymore. It requires an edge. Let Carmine help you get that edge.

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