Online Article from FA News
2014 marks the 10th birthday of Cartrack South Africa, representing a decade of tracking innovation and customer centricity that has delivered more than 14 000 vehicles back to their rightful owners. Underpinned by significant investment into technology and its own in-house recovery and support units, Cartrack has consistently maintained one of the highest, independently audited recovery rates in the competitive vehicle tracking and recovery industry, currently 94%.
As the brainchild of businessman Zak Calisto, Cartrack started its journey with a modest 30 vehicles on its system in 2004. With a focus on offering leading technology platforms and great people that underpinned client service, Cartrack expanded its operations rapidly both geographically and in terms of new clients. Today, Cartrack services more than 350 000 vehicles across its fleet management, stolen vehicle recovery and insurance telematics offerings and also has fully fledged operations in a further 16 countries across the globe.
“We have more staff members across the 16 countries that we are operational in, more clients and better technology than we ever anticipated ten years ago,” says Jerry Pierce, Operations Manager at Cartrack Pty Ltd. “Though the world may have changed, there is one thing about Cartrack that has remained at our core and that is our dedication to provide excellent service to our clients.”
While having great technology is fundamental to being able to provide a superior market offering, this has to be supported by the real differentiators that matter. “We pride ourselves on our speed of recovery which is made possible by the fact that our recovery teams are in-house and not outsourced. Vehicle crime is an emotional issue and people want the assurance of knowing that they have the best protection on their side in their time of need – technology, service, response time and recovery rates are inextricably linked to the trust that our clients place in us,” adds Jerry.
Cartrack continues to strive for excellence in a highly competitive market saw it introduce its own in-house recovery teams in 2010. “We made the decision in 2008 and spent the next two years recruiting the best staff, training them and investing in the necessary equipment. It represented a hefty financial investment for us as a growing business, but the decision proved the right one for us. It is certainly one of the reasons why we are able to deliver the level of service to our clients and consistently maintain our high recovery rates,” Jerry explains.
The growth of South Africa’s telecommunications industry has been nothing short of impressive in the past decade and we have seen cellular (GSM) technology grow rapidly and become more affordable. This in turn has seen South Africa’s tracking industry grow alongside it.
From a fleet management perspective, the rapid development and convergence of telecommunication services saw Cartrack widen its scope to include full telematics services since 2006. A powerful web-based system provides extensive features and benefits for fleet managers to optimise the productivity of their fleets and drivers and monitor driver behaviour and route digressions. But the real growth in telematics lies in the insurance industry. Insurance telematics allows the insurer to manage driver behaviour for the better, and in turn, dramatically reduce the loss ratios on its book of clients as a result of accidents.
“Cartrack has a significant edge when it comes to its insurance telematics as reporting back to the client and insurer is done in real time, rather than in delayed weekly or monthly reports, so fleet owners and insurers can actually influence driver behaviour for the better at the point of transgression. Given South Africa’s alarming road death statistics, we can expect significant developments in the telematics area in terms of managing driver behaviour, risk and liability,” says Jerry.
Cartrack’s dedicated Research and Development (R&D) team has pioneered a number of technological advancements in the industry. It’s also one of the reasons why it has maintained one of the highest recovery stats in the industry. Miniaturisation of technology and superior installation methods also mean that Cartrack units are that much harder for criminals to find and disarm.
“Couple that with our response times and it becomes exceedingly difficult for a criminal to make off with a vehicle protected by Cartrack. It’s the primary reason why we were able to launch our industry first ‘Recovery Warranty’ last year whereby we pay our clients up to R150 000 in the unlikely event that we don’t recover their vehicle. Our client’s appreciate the fact that we hold ourselves accountable to them,” says Jerry.
Cartrack utilises bespoke technology that is developed in-house to run its platforms across stolen vehicle recovery as well as fleet management and telematics. In the case of a recovery operation, this technology allows for three-way communication between the control room, the recovery teams on the ground and the air crews. It furthermore provides detailed information about the client’s vehicle being pursued and the recovery team’s progress, in real time. It dramatically increases the speed at which a stolen vehicle can be reached on the ground, with precision and accuracy,” explains Jerry.
The company is geared for further global expansion and while the South African tracking market is fundamentally different to that of overseas markets, the technology and functionality are essentially the same.
“Vehicle theft is not a significant problem in Europe. The Cartrack branches that we’ve opened in Singapore, Spain, Portugal and Poland are predominantly focussed on fleet management solutions. We have also recently expanded our offering to include prisoner tracking technology, which is operational in our Singapore branch at present,” Jerry explains.
In terms of Africa, GSM and roaming costs remain a significant drawback. However, there are moves afoot by cellular providers to achieve a more standardised pricing approach. “Over the next few years we can look forward to the expansion of asset tracking and fleet management services becoming more readily available and affordable on the continent. Given Africa’s growth trajectory, this is essential for businesses moving into the continent. However the pace of this expansion is largely dictated by the pace of the telecommunications industry on the continent. True cross border recovery and operations rely heavily on the progress of the telecommunications industry towards a universal, standardised billing structure.”
Through a commitment to continuous improvement and development, Cartrack’s 10 year organic growth path has been impressive and consistent. “Doing the right thing by our clients and leveraging the developments in technology will remain at the forefront of what we do going forward. That said and done, the best feeling is being able to tell a client that you have recovered their vehicle and seeing the relief on their faces. Knowing that we make a very real, tangible difference in the lives of our clients and experiencing their gratitude is an incredible reward,” concludes Jerry.