How do you determine the success of your business?
Is it through your great products and superior service? How about attention-grabbing marketing or great sales techniques? It’s true that many, if not all, of those things are needed to run a profitable business. However, one area that is frequently overlooked when discussing the secret formula to business success is that of fleet management and vehicle routing. How do you get your drivers or mobile workforce to their destinations each day as efficiently as possible?
Many distribution companies load their trucks with thousands of dollars of merchandise then send them out on the road with no visibility into what happens next. In these cases, management just hopes that the driver will take good care of the vehicle and deliver the right goods to the intended customer. But many distribution companies today take things a step further and use route optimization and scheduling software applications to plan the best route to follow. These companies know that optimizing delivery routes and schedules helps to reduce costs by saving miles driven, and fuel consumption while reducing time on the road. However, the truly successful distribution organizations add to their competitive advantage by going even further with their transportation logistics strategy through implementing a real-time Proof of Delivery (POD) system.
What is a POD system?
Commonly mistaken for basic automated vehicle locator systems, which only track the GPS history of a vehicle, proof of delivery systems provide much more. POD systems combine server based algorithms, geofencing, wireless data transmittals, and GPS tracking to oversee route progress in real-time. These systems help companies to ensure that their products are getting to their customers by monitoring key data points including: assessing the actual route execution compared to the optimized plan, documenting the time and place that a delivery or service took place, and collecting data on service levels by account. Many fleet management focused POD systems incorporate additional features that enhance an organization’s ability to offer world class customer service — these features include capturing the name and signature of the receiver, scanning barcodes of the product delivered to ensure accuracy, and taking pictures at the time of delivery to document the state of product upon receipt.
What’s the value of a POD system?
Not only do these systems let management know where their vehicles are, POD systems warn workers in the back office when there are issues prohibiting the route from being completed as planned. This is accomplished through exception alerts that flag issues on the route, such as scheduling delays or unplanned stops. Another key value of POD systems is historical data collection. Over time the information that is gathered from active routes can help pinpoint trends in route execution, i.e. if Friday deliveries take longer than Monday thru Thursday deliveries at the same customer location. This information can be used to prepare better route plans in the future and to set performance benchmarks for employees. To simplify the organization of historical route data, most POD systems also include extensive reporting on key business metrics.
Now, imagine a company that has all of this information readily available through the use of a vehicle routing and scheduling POD system competing against a company that has no insight into their route execution. Both of these companies sell the same products in the same marketplace.
Which company do you think is more successful?