In an interview with CIO Applications, Mike Dickinson, Executive Officer and Pat Fife, CIO of Dickinson Fleet Services share their insights on the overview of their company, their value proposition, and the quality fleet management solutions the company offers in the telematics space.
Can you give us an overview of the unique proposition delivered by Dickinson Fleet Services in the telematics space?
Fife: Our fleets of trucks that carry out in-field vehicle repairs are connected through a custom, in-house field service app. This app communicates to our back-office systems with interfaces to capture real-time information about the repairs and maintenance being done on customers’ equipment in the field and bill that up to our customers. On the backside, our customer-facing portal, WebWrench, an online maintenance cost tracking software, allows customers to log in and see all their information that passes through our systems, enabling them to track and control their maintenance costs. From preventive maintenance scheduling and invoicing to observing repair history, we ensure compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. That gives Dickinson an edge over its competition.
What inspired DFS to contribute to fleet management or the telematics arena?
Fife: The whole idea behind our fleet management systems spurred from our aspiration to operate on a national scale. We were unable to find a system that was already set up to have an on-site field service presence with the customer and transmit all that information back to our headquarters in a timely fashion. The need to scale out and satisfy the work-hour requirements, from a field service standpoint, is what pushed us to develop our own application to handle all the volumes of transactions that were coming across our systems on a national scale.
Dickinson: Another need was the tough migration of our service offering to individual customers. We needed to have the ability to work with the customers’ top parameters for maintenance and specialized vehicles by creating and developing our own systems. We were able to create customizable PM forms and customized reporting specific to the fleets and the customer needs of data reconciliation. It was critical to have that ability to react quickly to our customer’s needs.
How has the company coped with the changing trends and challenges over the years?
Fife: From a technology perspective, we commenced with a basic PM and DOT inspection and underwent several revisions of our applications to stay on par with the latest technology.
Dickinson: We are an IT company that focuses on truck maintenance, always looking for ways to develop and enhance our service on a frame with a hint of innovative ideas and technologies. All our systems are developed internally that allow us to react quickly towards customer needs in order to stay ahead of the competition and start development well in advance.
We provide data to help clients manage their fleet with a fleet life cycle cost that fits their budget perfectly
Fife: Since we perform repairs in the field, we capture customers’ information from cradle to grave. From scheduling to initiating work at the customer’s location, to sending push reports of the work performed to the customer and reporting that bulk of information, the customer can keep an archive of all the tasks performed using our fleet management systems.
Please elaborate on your client onboarding strategy.
Dickinson: Because we try to build a customized service offering around what our client’s needs are, it is critical that we develop a statement of work (SOW) that both companies sign off on before we turn the first wrench. Our sales team develops the SOW and brings customer requests back to our IT team, enabling us to enhance our service for specific customer needs. Many times, when a customer has a broader idea or a service request that all of our clients could benefit from, we make the changes across the board. Upon on-boarding, a customer must follow specific guidelines and steps set up by our team to receive all of the information that we generate. This information is converted into a customer preferred format and is customizable.
Fife: Dickinson is really big on partner integration. We procure the KPIs to analyze the customer’s measurement needs and that becomes part of the deliverables and the customer-facing portal. As part of the partner integration, we interface our information into their back-office systems as well.
Could you share a client success story?
Fife: One of our clients was struggling with DOT regulation compliance problems and CFA scores. After implementing our systems in the client’s infrastructure, we were able to create archives and centralized reports. With the strength of our systems and the infrastructure to bring in third parties, we worked through third-party telematics companies to service the client on a national scale. In doing so, we maintained compliance with DOT regulation and low maintenance costs.
What does the future hold for your company?
Dickinson: We are in an accelerated growth mode right now. We have had four acquisitions in the last 18 months and have grown to over 600 mechanics. The independent truck maintenance space is very fragmented, with a lot of great companies across the country that either have ownership that is ready to exit with no succession plan or an ownership team that would like to be a part of a bigger organization. We will continue to be aggressive to consolidate the industry, enhancing our service offering to our customers.
Fife: From an IT standpoint, we are enhancing our partner integrations by working with various telematics providers for seamless integrations of pre-trip and post-trip inspections automatically sent to our systems. This allows us to dispatch our technicians before the problem elevates to an emergency situation. With two decades of repair information in our database, we are working on predictive analytics to be able to predict breakdowns before they actually happen. The coming 18 months will see an enhanced preventive maintenance scheduling at component levels. Based on our predictive analytics, we offer our clients with a robust fleet management to assist them to generate revenue using their trucks.