We are not talking about customer HVAC power loads or elaborate P&L formulas. We are talking about simple things like the Garden Inn needing their delivery between 8:00 and 10:00 AM so as not to interfere with their lunch rush or the Sheetz Fuel Station on the corner needing its product delivered on carts, not pallets, so that they can be moved into the back room without hitting display cases.
Sounds pretty basic, right?
Unfortunately, we too often see that our route planning software customers that still do not stay on top of gathering or updating such information in a way that will allow the most effective routing and dispatching. These fleet maintenance items are the details that color and shade any vehicle routing software or dispatching solution on a continuing basis, automated or not – impacting the overall profitability of your routes.
What is the most common reason for not documenting this information in some fashion? “Our routers/drivers have been with the company for years and already know that stuff!” Well that’s fine, and it is good to know your employees have such extensive knowledge of your customers.
But here’s the problem. What happens if they are not in the picture? What if they are out sick for a few days, need to take care of a family emergency for a few weeks? Replacement personnel are not telepathic. Your business doesn’t wait until employees return – and you need that information now to continue meeting your customer commitments.
If you are not using an automated routing and scheduling solution, you need to capture some basic items that affect your routing operations, even if it is in a spreadsheet. At a minimum, try gathering these pieces of data to begin:
- Account name and complete address (including zip code and other identification items like store number)
- Contact information (names, emails and phone numbers to use during your routing period in particular should something unexpected be encountered)
- Open/close times and preferred time windows (i.e. receiving or dock times)
- Standard instructions (“See manager for dock keys”, “Lift gate required”, etc.)
Of course, automated solutions like the Roadnet Transportation Suite make this a relatively simple task. A common daily exercise for many of our routing software users is making minor updates to the Maintenance Database based on driver feedback provided when they return from their routes.
Do yourself a favor and don’t neglect your daily fleet maintenance. Involve your drivers, sales reps and customer service people in decision making, as they all have regular customer interactions. The better the information with which to route, the more effective you will be in meeting customer expectations and achieving real cost optimization in your route planning.
We are happy to talk about how to maintain accurate data – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org