As a fleet manager, when it comes to your fleet’s operational ins and outs, you are the expert. In this growing age of technology, becoming an expert of fleet cell phone plans and implementation is another important tool to add to the fleet management toolbox. We created this post as a guide to prepare you to set up fleet cell phones in no time.
Do your homework
When setting up your cell phone account, your first inclination may be to call a major provider (AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile) right away. Don’t. Before you do this, you should prepare all the necessary information for choosing a plan. Otherwise, it will be a waste of your time or if providers successfully upsell you, a waste of money.
Before speaking with a major provider, determine:
- Number of phone lines - The number of drivers or employees who will need a cell phone.
- Amount of data - Determine how many MBs or GBs of data your drivers will need. It can be tricky to figure out which data package best suits your fleet and may require some initial trial and error. If you’re unsure where to start, a suggested amount ranges from 500MB to 2G per person. AT&T also has a helpful data calculator that helps estimate the amount of data your drivers will need.
- International calling requirements - How often do your employees make international calls? Most phone plans nowadays include unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada. Calls to other countries, however, are either charged by the minute or require an additional monthly fee, ranging on average from $5 to $15 per month. Determine the number of employees who make international calls and the frequency. If international calls are relatively common, it may be more economical to add on the monthly international calling. Otherwise, it likely isn’t a necessary feature.
- Timeline - A provider is also going to ask about your timeline for implementing these cell phone plans. You should have a clear idea of when you want employees to start using your fleet cell phones.
Cover your bases
No one likes change. But it’s a necessary part of life (and business). The best thing you can do is to make this change as seamless as possible for your drivers. To do that, you should follow these best practices:
- Listen to employees - Think about it—people are more open to change when they are included in the development process. Before adopting anything, it’s best to talk to your employees to get a sense of what they want. If you take employee preferences into account, you show respect for their wants and needs and are more likely to get their buy-in as a result.
- Offer trainings - It will save management the headache and employees the anxiety and confusion if you offer trainings on best practices for using company phones. Educate your employees on security matters like the importance of updating software, how to identify spam emails and actions to take in the event of a stolen or lost phone. It’s in your interest to be cautious and prepare your employees for all potential scenarios.
- Create comprehensive policies - Eliminate as much gray area as possible when it comes to acceptable and unacceptable phone use to avoid outrage. Write policies that clearly outline what is expected of employees. Be sure to include the consequences if employees ignore these policies as well. This may be more work upfront, but your employees will respect the transparency and it will ensure you are all on the same page.
Factor in all the costs
An important thing to keep in mind and budget for when choosing a business cell phone plan is that the final price is often higher than the initial price quote. Additional costs that will be included in the price are:
- Activation fees - This is a flat, one-time fee you will be charged when creating a new account with a provider that ranges from $20 to $40 per line.
- International plan fees - If your fleet makes international calls outside of Mexico and Canada, don’t forget to factor in the monthly international plan fee that ranges from $5 to $15 per line per month.
- State taxes, fees and governmental surcharges - These are taxes, fees and surcharges like Administrative Charge, Regulatory Charge, State 911 Fee that are tacked onto your bill. These usually only add up to about $1 per device but they vary according to device and location. You can estimate the cost here.
- Phone insurance - This is optional, but recommended. Phone insurance coverage often includes theft, loss, damage, out-of-warranty malfunction, the phone battery, SIM card and the phone itself. It typically costs around $10 per device per month. It’s a nice safety net to have in the case of an accident to avoid purchasing new phones outright.
- Accessories - Another optional cost that is best to purchase are phone accessories like cases, screen protectors and car chargers. These help protect the phones from physical damage and ensures driver phones are always charged while on the road. In the case of a lost or broken accessory, you could require employees to replace them out of pocket to avoid this becoming a money pit.
We created a cost comparison table for the major phone providers based on fleet and data size, including plan cost, international calling and phone insurance cost. Get a quick cost estimate for your fleet cell phone plan right now.