This New Routing Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

Have you ever made three or four errands in a row, traveling from place-to-place, meticulously crossing the errands off your list?

If you have, chances are good you didn’t input all of your stops into a smart routing system that used advanced algorithms to determine the best order, and most efficient routes for your errands.

But if you did, just imagine how much time you could have saved, compounded over all the errands you’ve made in your lifetime.

Today, many small businesses still rely on similar methods to deliver goods and services to their customers with a fleet of vehicles; often times grouping jobs together loosely based on location, letting drivers decide, or plotting what seems to be the most efficient route on a free online mapping service.

Unfortunately, these methods can be very time-consuming and often don’t produce the best results. The good news is that there is a new technology for small businesses that can make routing easier and more efficient.

FLEETMATICS ROUTIST, A TECHNOLOGY DESIGNED FOR SMALL BUSINESS

Fleetmatics' New Route Optimization Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

Today’s digital economy is dominated by a small handful of technology companies, and although each company supports small businesses in some way, their primary focus isn’t to deliver new and innovative technologies that cater primarily to small businesses.

Fleetmatics, a company co-based in Dublin, Ireland and Boston, Massachusetts, has been delivering technology solutions tailored specifically for small businesses for over a decade.

They’ve helped tens of thousands of small businesses from across the globe gain increased visibility into their fleet of vehicles, drivers and jobs.

That’s why they introduced a new product called Fleetmatics Routist, an intelligent routing optimization solution that takes routing to an entirely new level.

Fleetmatics' New Route Optimization Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

According to Todd Ewing, Director of Product Marketing at Fleetmatics, “Fleetmatics Routist systematically builds cost-effective, customer-friendly routes and operates by taking locations, vehicles, time windows, technician skills, and costs and capacities into consideration, among other inputs.”

Interestingly, Fleetmatics Routist also incorporates historical traffic data into its algorithm, elevating traffic and routing optimization for drivers in metropolitan areas. It can even match drivers to jobs based on their skillset and history with customers.

Ewing added, “Small business owners and operations managers tasked with planning routes say that Fleetmatics Routist saves them a lot of time, and is simple and intuitive to use. It’s as easy as selecting your drivers, the jobs that need to be completed, and hitting the optimize button.”

Once you select optimize, Fleetmatics Routist generates a timeline view where users can see the number of jobs, distance traveled, and time expectancy for the day – giving small business owners and operations managers more time to focus on other areas of their business.

EARLY ADOPTERS: FROM TRADITIONAL TO CONTEMPORARY

Fleetmatics' New Route Optimization Solution is Helping Transform Fleet Management for Small Business

From carpenters and coffee shops to farmers and food delivery services, small business can benefit from more efficient routing.

Take Joyride Coffee, for example, a company based in New York City that provides “the world’s best coffee, tea and cold brew on tap to America’s most innovative offices and cafes.”

Joyride is one of the early adopters of Fleetmatics Routist, and found that they have experienced significant time savings since using the tool.

“We deliver in Manhattan, which is a challenge,” said Adam Belanich, President of Joyride Coffee. “Delivering to 18 miles of coverage can take up to six hours depending on traffic. And with many one-way streets plus strict rules on right turns for commercial vehicles, we needed a system that would take everything into account and determine our routes for us.”

Take a look at this video to see how Joyride Coffee is using Fleetmatics Routist to solve its biggest fleet management and routing challenges.

According to Belanich, “We’ve also seen an increase in driver safety since installing the tracking devices on our vans. Now that our drivers know they are being monitored, their behavior has improved without any interference from our managers.”

PEACE OF MIND, FOR YOU AND YOUR MOBILE WORKFORCE

Once your routes are live, dispatchers and managers can stay current on a driver’s progress against route stops in near real-time and make adjustments as needed.

Drivers can also receive their daily routes and notifications on mobile devices, meaning there is little to no paperwork, or a need to touch base frequently about stops throughout the day.

Finally, when the day is complete, actual versus plan analysis is available to compare stops made against work orders, so managers can provide appropriate coaching around route deviations.

For more information about Routist – which is available as an add-on module to Fleetmatics’ REVEAL solution – you can visit https://www.fleetmatics.com/reveal/route-optimization.

Copyright ©2017 Fleetmatics Development Limited. All rights reserved. Fleetmatics and the Fleetmatics logo are registered trademarks of Fleetmatics in the U.S. and other countries.

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New Smartphone from LG, Cloud Management Services from Staples Make Small Biz Headlines

If you want to run a mobile business, you need mobile specific tools like a smartphone and a cloud management platform. This week, small businesses got a few new options. First, Verizon called a new LG smartphone perfect for content creators. And Staples launched a new cloud management and records storage solution.

You can read about these new services along with more small business headlines in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Technology Trends

Verizon Calls New LG Phone Perfect for Content Creators, But Why?

The V20 from LG (KRX:066570) was announced in August, and it is now available online from Verizon (NYSE:VZ) targeting content creators. Today’s smartphones are more than just phones, and manufacturers are addressing different segments with a range of models.

Staples Adds Record Storage and Cloud Management for Business

Small businesses looking for record storage or cloud management services just got another option from a familiar source. Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) is partnering with GRM, a leading provider of information management solutions, to offer these services under the Staples brand. Staples Records and Cloud Management offers a range of specific services that businesses of all sizes can choose from.

Windows 10 Adds New Dimensions with 3D Paint and PowerPoint

If the upgrade of Paint to 3D by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) works, this might be what catapults the technology for mass adoption. For over 30 years the Paint app has remained popular because it is easy to use, and thankfully Microsoft hasn’t forgotten that. According to the company, it will be just as easy to capture, create and share in 3D with the revamped app.

Office 365 Users, GoDaddy Will Encrypt and Archive Your Email

If you use Office 365 on GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY), a new service will protect your email with an encryption and archiving service. The increase in security by GoDaddy and others in the tech industry highlights the threat landscape in the digital environment, which is very high.

3 MacBook Pros Focus On Productivity — But Are They For Business?

The revamped MacBook Pro line of laptops has arrived with 13 and 15-inch models almost four years after the last noteworthy upgrade. And this time around there are more changes, both inside and outside. A Look at the New 2016 MacBook Pros Externally, they are smaller with the 13-inch coming in at 14.9 mm thick and 3 lbs, while the 15-inch is slightly bigger at 4 lbs and 15.4 mm.

Microsoft Touts Surface Book i7 as Ultimate Laptop — with Ultimate Price Tag

Coined the ultimate laptop by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), the new Surface Book i7 packs a punch, in terms of performance and the bruising your wallet will take. The announcement of the new i7 comes just as Microsoft released Surface Studio, another bruiser that is squarely aimed at taking on Apple’s stronghold among creative users.

Economy

UPS Sees Profits Jump 14 Percent with Ecommerce Driving Growth in Shipments

Riding high on booming ecommerce in the U.S., UPS (NYSE:UPS) has posted a profitable third quarter. UPS 3rd Quarter 2016 Results Domestic Shipments Drive Growth In the third quarter, international operating profit went up 14 percent to $576 million, achieving the seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. What’s more, average daily package volume grew 5.7 percent in the U.S.

Amazon Sees Third Quarter Sales Increases of 29 Percent – in Part Due to New Biz Opportunities

Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) third quarter results are out. This quarter, the company posted $32.7 billion in revenue in the third quarter, up 29 percent. Q3 2016 Amazon Results Key Highlights Among highlights shared by the online retail giant, some are especially significant for small businesses.

Why Small Business Share of U.S. Inventions is Declining

Small businesses are accounting for a smaller fraction of new technology creation than they used to, at least according data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). That trend has many policy makers and pundits concerned that our innovation system is handicapping small business. While that explanation is possible, I think a more basic story accounts for the trend.

Hispanic-Owned Businesses See Revenue Spike, Says Biz2Credit Report

Hispanic-owned businesses are on a roll, reveals a new study. According to the Biz2Credit Hispanic Small Business Credit Study, Hispanic-owned companies had average annual revenues of $202,327 in 2016, up from $68,540 the previous year. The number of loan applications by Latino entrepreneurs made through Biz2Credit.com grew by 68.7 percent in the past 12 months.

Employment

Obamacare Enrollment Opens Today With Impacts for Self-Employed Solopreneurs

Open enrollment for individuals and families wanting to apply for health insurance through Obamacare starts today. Depending on where you live, you can either go to Healthcare.gov or your state’s healthcare exchange website. Self-employed businesses and solopreneurs with no employees  should also use this option.

#SalaryWins Twitter Chat Explores How to Get the Best Employees on a Budget

If you want your business to be successful, you need to hire the best team possible. But the reality for small businesses is that it’s not always possible to spend as much on hiring as large companies. That doesn’t mean that you have to settle when it comes to your team though.

Retail Trends

Are Starbucks Cups Brainwashing Customers? Some Think So (Watch)

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is in hot water (er – coffee?) again over a special cup design. The design features a variety of different people sketched all over the cup. The cup is green with a white circle in the middle where the Starbucks logo would normally go. The company has said that the design is supposed to represent unity.

10 Awesome Tips for Using Gift Cards to Boost Your Holiday Sales

Whether you own a retail store, beauty salon, restaurant, housecleaning service or other local business, gift cards can be a great way to spark new holiday sales. Gift cards aren’t just for big, national chains anymore; in fact, a new study reports, half of U.S. consumers are very open to buying gift cards from small, independent retailers.

Hair Care Company Faces Lawsuit, Investigation – and Possibly Worse (Watch)

Hundreds of people who purchased hair care products from Wen by Chaz Dean got a little more (or less) than they bargained for. According to a class action lawsuit against the company and direct marketing company Guthy-Renker, 200 women from 40 different states have reported hair loss, scalp irritation and rashes after using the products.

How the Election is Impacting Halloween Spending (Watch)

People are spending more money on Halloween this year than they ever have before. And you might have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to thank for that. Before this year, 2012 held the record for highest amount spent on Halloween. And there was even an uptick in 2008 even though the country was in the middle of a recession.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Aulta Specializes in Watches for Surfers

If you have an active lifestyle, traditional fashion brands might not provide enough durability when it comes to clothing and accessories. But Aulta is different. The company, which was founded by three friends who love to surf, makes watches for surfers and others who have active lifestyles. Read more about the company in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

Small Business Operations

10 Lessons Your Small Business Should Learn from the Podesta Email Hack

The email hacks — not the other email problem — impacting this year’s Presidential election should be a stern warning to any small business owner. Cyber attacks are on the rise and you don’t have to be the campaign chair of a Presidential candidate to be a target. In fact, if you’re a small business owner, you’re more likely to be targeted.

Airstory Gets Your Team Collaborating on Content — From Anywhere

There are many small businesses that specialize in creating content for websites, and when Airstory becomes available by the end of the month, it could make it much easier to do so. Airstory is a collaborative cloud-based content creation platform for planning, writing, editing and kicking ideas around with your team. It works no matter where they are or what device you are using.

Feds Short-changed Small Businesses Out of $200 Billion in Contracts in 2015 Alone, Says Advocacy Group

The United States government agency responsible for supporting entrepreneurs has been accused of short-changing small business owners out of $2 trillion in federal contracts over the last ten years.

QuickBooks Users Can Now Accept Payments Through PayPal

Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU), QuickBooks’ parent company, has announced that QuickBooks users will soon be able to send an electronic invoice from Intuit QuickBooks Online and seamlessly accept payment from their customers through PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL). Yep, now small businesses can accept PayPal payments through QuickBooks.

Taxes

5 Changes to Information Returns — Coming in January

The year 2017 may seem like a long time from now, but it will be here before you know it. There are some important changes impacting businesses required to file certain information returns. The sooner you gear up for this tax responsibility, the easier your filing responsibilities will be.

Image: LG

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9 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Apps for Small Business

infusionsoft crmCustomer relationship management has always felt like the wrong term to me. You don’t “manage” customers. You don’t “manage” your relationship with a customer. You might nurture it. You might encourage it. You would strive to strengthen it. But manage? No.

However, I understand what a company is aiming for when they say it, and the term has stuck for a long time, so I will get off my soapbox and share nine powerful CRM tools you’ll want to consider for managing your small business.  Each of these tools has a customer database at its core; that’s a given.  How they approach that customer data is what each section explores.

CRM Apps With an E-Mail Focus

Infusionsoft is one of the market leaders when it comes to CRM, e-mail marketing and marketing Automation.  One of their strengths and what makes them different is that, instead of a one-time automatic response, they encourage you to create a robust “follow-up sequence” based on customer behavior—this is the automation engine at work.  For example, if a customer responds to a specific campaign, then phones in a question, you can trigger your Infusionsoft system to automatically respond appropriately — which goes beyond e-mail and includes faxing, voicemails, even letters.  If you’re a small business owner struggling who needs more than a simple e-mail campaign, take a closer look at the Infusionsoft approach.

InTouch CRM promises to make your life with customers easy.   To prove their philosophy, if you only want to store your customer contact information, you can do it for free with InTouch.  If you want to be able to use the powerful customer database and communicate via e-mail or SMS with your customers, then you’ll have to subscribe to a paid plan. I signed up for the free trial and was impressed with the simple dashboards and how quick it was to set up sample templates (you have to pay to start e-mailing) and campaigns for both e-mail and SMS.  Naturally, you can see all your customer data at a glance.

CRM Apps With a Social and Collaborative Focus

According to Gartner, social CRM application spending will grow at a faster rate than traditional CRM spending in the coming years.  Gartner employs the following definition for social CRM: “Social CRM applications encourage many-to-many participation among internal users, as well as customers, partners, affiliates, fans, constituents, donors, members and other external parties, to support sales, customer service and marketing processes. Social CRM works within each of these domains, for example, to provide a social enterprise feedback mechanism in the service domain, or social monitoring or product development in the marketing domain.”

That’s a long definition, but in a nutshell, I liked what Batchblue had to say about social CRM: “Find and join the conversations so you know what’s important to your customers.”  That is the essence of adding “social” to the CRM database.  Tag your customer data so you know what a conversation was about, when it happened and where in the social universe it took place.

Batchbook is a combination of Facebook, Google and contact database rolled up nicely in one.  You can view blog posts, photos, tweets and more alongside contact history, so if part of your customer experience involves knowing what’s going on in your customer’s life, this is a tool worth trying out. Lots of great reporting and integration with many other small business apps like Mailchimp, Shoeboxed and more.

Kickapps has an impressive platform approach to customer relationships and social media.  They explain that they are a “Social Graph Engine” which is generally defined as a look at a person’s online identity, activity, relationship to other people and content.  Kickapps allows you to use that data to inform your marketing and sales functions.  They have a great customer example page here. You can use this tool to build a website and a community.

Rapportive is for the Google Gmail user. If you use Gmail, you’ll love Rapportive.  Right within your inbox, on the right side (replaces where the ads usually run, yay), you’ll see contact information for the person whose message you are reading.  Rapportive scours the social landscape and provides links and details from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and numerous other sites to give you a fast glance at just who it is you’re corresponding with.  It will also tell you location information, if they are nearby and using such services, of course.

rapportive

Gist reminds you that your contacts are everywhere.  In e-mail, on social networks, on your mobile phone and many other sources. Gist combines them all into one place to give you a full view of your network,making it easy to find anyone, anytime.  It works with Gmail, with Outlook, with the iPhone and Android phones, with Salesforce.com and even Lotus Notes, to create a powerful listening post.

CRM Apps With a Sales Focus

Smartsheet Sales Pipeline is for the many users who want a powerful database, but with a user-friendly interface like a spreadsheet.  If that’s you, then take a close look at Smartsheet.  Think of this as a spreadsheet on steroids – interactive and collaborative. Stop e-mailing spreadsheets around. Great reporting functions as well as Gantt charts and ways to enhance your sales results presentation.

SalesForce.com is one of the best-known online CRM tools; it was built with sales in mind. SalesForce is one of the companies that defined the software-as-a-service (SaaS) space.  Sales teams can see and access prospect and customer contact information via the Web and mobile devices. Hundreds of applications bolt onto the Salesforce system, and thousands of small business owners use it. The company just purchased Jigsaw to help you find more sales prospects.

Sugar CRM offers several different CRM tools, all of which are open source. While Sugar CRM is not free, it’s extremely adaptable, allowing you to easily create custom modules as well as add external data.  Update & Correction:  SugarCRM does offer a free Community Edition.

There are many CRM applications in the market today. Tell us which ones you’re using and how in the comments.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

India Funding Roundup: A Reproductive Health Tracker, Task Management App, and More

India Funding Roundup: A Reproductive Health Tracker, Task Management App, and More

Our latest funding roundup compiles seed stage investments in startups in the sectors of in healthcare, AI-driven analytics, virtual reality, food delivery, and on-demand services.

LoveCycles
Bengaluru-based Plackal, creators of the menstrual cycle tracking app LoveCycles announced Hindi language support for its app on Tuesday, and disclosed that it has secured Rs. 5 crores from seed-stage investors, Prime Venture Partners. LoveCycle’s apps, available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, have clocked more than six million downloads across 190 countries worldwide.

vPhrase Analytics
Seed investment firm Venture Catalyst and other other angels from the VCats network have invested an undisclosed sum in vPhrase Analytics, an AI platform that helps companies communicate insights in data and in words, at scale. The Mumbai-based startup provides a patent pending platform called Phrazor that can parse structured data and communicate insights in words and in multiple languages.

Dunzo
Bengaluru-based on demand task management startup Dunzo has reportedly raised $650,000 (roughly Rs. 4.3 crores) in a pre-Series A round of funding from Aspada and Blume Ventures, and other angels. Operational in Bengaluru, Dunzo fulfilment areas are centred around shopping, repairs, shipping, home services currently offers an app on iOS, and lets users create to-do lists that are outsourced.

(Also read: Roundup: Indian Apps to Outsource Your Everyday Tasks)

Mygubbi
Bengaluru-based online interior home décor and furnishing company, Mygubbi, has reportedly raised $2.5 million in seed funding from angel investors. Founded in 2015, the startup provides an e-commerce platform that offers interior and furnishing solutions to buyers, and claims 50 successful home completions till date.

SmartVizX
Noida-based virtual reality startup SmartVizX has reportedly raised $500,000 (roughly Rs. 3.3 crores) in seed funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN) and Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs India (SA&E India). Founded in February 2015 by Gautam Tewari and Tithi Tewari, the company plans to use the funds to expand its team and expand its R&D operations.

Medidaili
Healthcare startup Medidaili has reportedly raised $100,000 (roughly Rs. 67 lakhs) in angel funding from a consortium of private investors. Founded in November 2015, the startup offers an Android app for booking and comparison of diagnostic tests and health check-up packages, operational in Bengaluru and Indore.

(Also read: Roundup: 10 Indian Healthcare Startups You Should Know About

Cookaroo
Bengaluru-based food delivery startup Cookaroo has reportedly secured an undisclosed sum of angel funding, and plans to expand its operations in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The startup currently offers an Android app for food ordering, says that it utilises commercial kitchens to address problems at the supply side.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: Apps, Cookaroo, Dunzo, Funding, India, Internet, Investment, LoveCycles, Medidaili, Mygubbi, SmartVizX, Startups,vPhrase Analytics
[“source-Gadgets”]