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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Companies Looking to Profit with Niche Fleet Markets - Like Towing

As reported by GPS World: Niche markets for location companies are sometimes hit-and-miss. One real opportunity that is gaining more traction among location companies is towing.

There are legions of Duck Dynasty-type of towing trade show attendees, but you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. There is tons of money in the towing industry as banks, insurance companies, motor clubs and other technology entities are flocking to these shows. Many times that scruffy-looking guy in a Duck Dynasty T-shirt is a multi-million-dollar owner of a big towing company. 

Although it is a strong niche market, the towing industry is gaining traction among the dozen or so location companies that were exhibing at the recent American Towman Exposition there.  

Location companies exhibiting asked towing operators to look at the usual benefits of their products: fuel savings, dispatching tow trucks to the nearest incident, reducing idle time, reduced overtime hours, monitoring of speeds and other features. 
Several financial institutions were on site who acknowledged the importance of tracking and monitoring technology in towing company fleets and headquarters. One banker said that he will not give a loan to a towing company unless it has, across a fleet, a real-time tracking system. The same goes for many insurance companies.
One challenge that location companies may have in smaller niche markets is volume. One company says it cannot sell to fleets with five or fewer trucks.
In related GPS/location news:
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently said that more than two-thirds of the calls to 911 emergency centers in Texas from wireless phones do not include the accurate location information necessary to find a caller in crisis. The data, provided to the FCC by state and local 911 agencies, show a dramatic drop in more accurate “Phase II” data in Texas from 67 percent of all wireless calls in January 2011 to just 33 percent in June 2013, despite a dramatic increase in cell phone calls over the same period.
  • C.J. Driscoll & Associates released a new multi-client marketing research study covering U.S. fleet operators with Mobile Resource Management systems and services. The 2013-14 Survey of Fleet Operator Interest in MRM Systems and Services assesses fleet operator interest in GPS fleet management, driver behavior management, and GPS-equipped handset/portable solutions for managing mobile workers. The study was partially funded by 14 companies, including major cellular carriers, GPS fleet management solution providers, suppliers of driver behavior management systems, and other leading telematics suppliers to the fleet market. The following are among the key findings of the study: More than three-fourths of the fleets that are using a GPS fleet management system reported a high level of satisfaction with their system and two-thirds reported that they have recouped their investment in the system. Another study finding indicates participating fleets that have never used a GPS fleet management system expect to deploy a system in the next 12-18 months.
  • MapQuest, which hasn’t gotten the publicity of Google Maps or Apple, recently rolled out a new mapping application, which was a nine-month project. The new mapping app features layers of information “around” a user such as coffee, bars, gas, banks and parking. The new app gets traffic updates on the fly and works more like a standard GPS system, according to published reports. MapQuest is still the number 3 mobile map provider, which is a quiet stat given how long the company has been around in the location industry.