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VisTracks’ Hours Of Service Delivers Managed Services Platform For The Trucking Industry And Fleet Operators

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VisTracks was formed in the early part of the previous decade by Steve Eick, formerly of Bell Labs, Ph.D in statistics and holder of over 40 patents. He developed technology for the US Dept of Defense for use during the Iraq war to identify and track down terrorists. The intellectual property was then used for commercial purposes by what is now known as VisTracks. Originally, VisTracks’ business model was to use the technology to solve general problems in the IoT (Internet of Things) arena, but it got more specific with the development of products for vehicle and asset tracking. Over time that evolved into applications for the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) market for truckers nationwide and in North America. Below is our interview with Abraham S. Levine, Chief Operating Officer at VisTracks:


Q: What is unique about VisTracks’ Hours of Service, and how does it stand out from the competition?

A: As in the Iraq War, we recognized that we need to develop products and services for a largely non-technical audience, be that military personnel or truck drivers. At the same time, the ELD rules are voluminous and complex, so the software needs to be equally sophisticated internally, but easy to understand and use externally.

In addition, given the nature of the rules, programming them into the app was not trivial. App developers must self-certify their app with the Federal Motor Safety Administration (FMCSA). Given the sometimes arcane or contradictory rules, programming them was quite difficult, even for a Ph.D in statistics with decades of programming experience. For example, some rules pertaining to logs depend on information for the day that hasn’t happened yet, but must appear on today’s log. We figured this out, but highly question whether our competition who self-certified really spent the time to get it 100% right.

We also made it a point of ensuring that all exemptions were programmed into the app such as Michigan construction season which has different rules. VisTracks supports not only Federal rules, but all State rules and Canadian rules too. Our app also works in Spanish and Canadian French in addition to English. Thus, a driver can start out in Mexico and drive all the way into Canada, have the app recognize the border changes and configure itself automatically.

We have numerous other features in our app to make things 100% compliant, easy for the driver to use and even supply detailed and timely information for the back-office personnel.

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Q: Why did you decide on a reseller model? What is an ideal reseller?

A: There are several million trucks on the road. Many are owner-operator and small fleets. Selling to them would incur significant expense in sales and marketing. Working with partners who already sell products and services to the trucking industry makes more sense, not only from a financial perspective, but also common sense. These resellers already are being asked for ELD products from their existing customers.

Also, supporting customers after the sale is important. Again, we’re selling to a generally non-sophisticated technical crowd with a complex product involving software, tablet in the cab and hardware on the engine, all communicating with each other as well as to the back office in a far away location. Support is critical and generally not something a call center could handle easily. We’ve mitigated many of the support issues by providing in-app documentation of every screen with screen shots, examples, best practices, and more. This cuts down on support calls, but there are always issues with hardware installation, mis-configured Bluetooth, and other matters which general require on-site help. So, a reseller model works best.

An ideal reseller is one who is currently selling hardware and software-based products and services to fleets. They have ready-made ELD customers and can provide the requisite support to their customers. This model works very well in practice.

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Q: How successful has that model been? Why did your resellers select VisTracks?

A: So far, we have over 60 resellers covering the entire US as well as Canada, with significant Mexican interest as well. All of the resellers have existing business with fleets and are capable of supporting them.

They chose VisTracks for three reasons: the product is by far superior to the competition; we provide outstanding support, both in sales support and technical support; our wholesale price is competitive and we work with our resellers for special pricing when needed.

We make a point of responding to our resellers as fast as we can, and exceed our support SLA’s. We provide a wealth of tools, videos, FAQ’s and other items in a Google Drive just for resellers. We also provide a lot of training. We can only be as successful as our resellers, so we help as much as possible.

Q: What are your plans for the next 4 months?

A: We have quite a list of feature requests from our resellers. We are also ready to release the General Availability version of the app on iOS. In addition, we are continuing to add hardware device support, fix bugs that only can be customers in the field, and start planning on the next set of products.

It should be noted that one advantage we have is in our hardware support. Many of our competitors support one brand of hardware and that’s it. We support several brands which provide two benefits: the first is that we have hardware available at several price points to suite customer requirements and budgets. The second is that when the expected demand explosion starts, there is the danger that the hardware vendors will not have sufficiently invested in inventory, thus making it very difficult to sell, especially by the final date of December 17th. Supporting multiple brands gives our resellers and their customers options and Plans A, B, C, D to find sufficient inventory.

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