Saving money on fuel costs has always been a priority for Joseph LoRe, head of operations for LoRe Sweeping Co., a pavement sweeping company in New Jersey.

But with gas prices flirting with $5 a gallon, saving at the pump is now essential.

But LoRe isn’t worried about his drivers running up exuberant gas bills thanks to GPS systems installed in his 14 sweepers and six support vehicles.

“In the last fiscal year we saved about 9,500 gallons of diesel at an average price of $3.10, saving around $29,000 in fuel,” said LoRe. “It helps tremendously with fuel savings.”

For many small businesses, especially those that are mobile, surging gas prices can quickly erode their profits. Companies like Navman Wireless, which provides GPS technology that goes beyond providing directions and alternate routes, can help small business owners lower their fuel costs without a large upfront investment.

Navman Wireless out of Glenview, Ill., makes a GPS system that can be installed in vehicles that comes with a back-end application that enables the owner of the vehicles to monitor what is going on in real time and communicate with drivers on the road. 

According to T.J. Chung, chief executive of Navman Wireless, the system allows owners to monitor online the speed of the driver, any stops made and the driver’s route--all contributors to fuel consumption.

“If you know that information, you can put some controls in place to make sure the drivers are driving more efficient,” said Chung. “If the drivers know the boss is watching how the vehicles are being driven most people will be more conscientious.”

The system also has the ability to communicate with drivers in real time to provide a more-direct or new route. “The system knows where the driver is, where the driver needs to go and can send a destination address to the driver,” said Chung. 

Chung noted that while the savings for a business varies from one company to the next, he said one customer was able to save $40,000 in one year just by tracking vehicles. The system costs $45 per month per vehicle and includes hardware, installation and monitoring, according to Chung.

Navman Wireless isn’t the only GPS provider to offer this technology. According to Chung, since there are so many players in the field, many have become more niche oriented, focusing on different segments. For example, Navman Wireless’ main focus is in construction and general services. “Some do well in utilities or telecommunications,” noted Chung.

For LoRe Sweeping, installing the Navman Wireless systems not only saved money on fuel, but it also boosted productivity.

Before LoRe Sweeping had the systems installed drivers would finish work on a job site at around 3:00 p.m. but not return to work until 5:00 p.m. Once the systems were installed, drivers were returning to the office earlier, which enabled them to be sent out on more jobs.

We can access it at any location and see where all the sweepers are,” said LoRe. “We can communicate with the sweeper even if the guy has no cell service.”