These are challenging times for companies running a delivery operation. With order volumes rising to their pre-Christmas peak, driver shortages and supply chain challenges are hindering what is already a stressful time for fleet operators. Here we look at how optimising your multi drop delivery plans can help retain driver talent. After all, happy drivers are retained drivers and with resource at a premium right now driver retention is vital to keeping deliveries moving.
For outsiders looking in, now might seem like the perfect time to get CPC trained and start a new life as a delivery driver. But for the UK’s dedicated driver resource pressure is mounting as work volumes increase. As driver resource becomes scare, those that remain are having to work longer hours, doing more drops per shift. With an “all hands-on deck” mentality it is not unusual to hear of companies getting all capable staff, whether it’s the Managing Director, Finance Director or Warehouse Manager, in a vehicle and out on the road to keep up with demand.
So, is there a better way?
With the right resources companies can improve how they plan and manage their drivers and delivery volumes. Here we look at three ways that taking a fresh look at your multi drop planning can make life that little bit easier for your drivers at this stressful time.
Planning realistic routes
Don’t overload your drivers with unrealistic routes that aren’t achievable. Make sure you plan routes that are both optimised – in terms of resource, mileage & time windows – and realistic. You can over optimise; creating routes that don’t give drivers any ‘wiggle room’ for everyday occurrences such as delays, traffic, or roadworks. So, make sure you factor in real life journey times and actual drop times to get the best result. The best route plans are the ones that are resource efficient, yet realistic.
Automate your vehicle checks & depot departure
It can take drivers well over an hour to get out of the depot. There are checks that need to be completed, and forms to be filled. But these processes can be automated. Now this is not to say that automation means checks do not have to be completed. That is not the case. But if you invest in good (but not necessarily expensive) driver technology you can streamline the process of collecting vehicle checks, sharing that information with your transport and maintenance teams, and getting your vehicles out on the road efficiently and safely.
Keep things legal
When faced with delivery pressures and a lack of resource it can sometimes seem like a good idea to add one or two extra loads onto your vehicles. Keeping vehicles running under legal weight limits is essential to keeping your operation running successfully. There are automated software solutions out there, they normally include route planning as a feature, which will help you allocate loads without exceeding regulatory weight restrictions.
Reassess your customer time windows
Now this is a tricky one! You may have customers that always have their delivery at a set time. You may have sales teams that are committing to rigid delivery windows. This introduces a challenge for your drivers who are working to deliver promised goods at a specific time. Sticking to tight time windows can also sometimes mean your drivers’ routes may have them zig zagging across a given area which is not efficient. So, look at your time window promises. Can you re-evaluate them? Can you ask certain customers to move from a one-hour slot to an AM or PM slot? Are there incremental changes that you can make that will maintain customer service, at the same time as improving the multi drop route experience for your drivers.
Track your drivers
By tracking your drivers, you will have full time visibility of where they are at any given time. If you are using an automated route optimisation solution and you have vehicle tracking, you’ll have a clear picture of where your driver is, vs where they are supposed to be. So how does this benefit your driver? Well, if your driver is running late your customer service teams will get advance warning and can call the customer, pre-empting the late arrival. This makes life easier for your drivers who aren’t having to field calls from customer services asking where they are or dealing with irate customers who didn’t realise their delivery was running late.
Get real time proof of delivery
Traditionally a driver would arrive at a delivery location with paper ticket in hand. A smudged, or illegible signature may be the only proof that items have been delivered, or refused, at the end location. If there is a discrepancy about arrival time, about goods being delivered, or items being damaged it inevitably ends up with your customer’s word vs that of your driver. With accurate multi stop route planning you will know what time your drivers should be due to arrive, and if you have a tracking app you can get an accurate time and location stamp when your vehicle has arrived on site. Your drivers can capture information about refused items along with photographic evidence of where the items were delivered to. All this information can be uploaded straight back to your transport and/or customer service team in real time giving you the actual information you need to tackle tricky customer queries, or item discrepancy demands.
Is technology the answer?
Distribution is inherently a traditional industry with many operators still working the way that they always have. For those that are willing to embrace new, and not so new, technologies there are big benefits to be had. The PODFather, solution, for example, will allow you to plan realistic multi drop routes, that your drivers can fulfil in the allocated time. It will ensure you vehicles are not overloaded, keeping you legal, with electronic vehicle checks meaning that if there is a discrepancy that needs to be dealt with you have electronic proof of a completed vehicle check at your finger topics. Your customers are happy as they know when their delivery is coming but more importantly your drivers are happy and as we mentioned previously, a happy driver is a retained driver and during these challenging times that is essential to delivery success.
Why choose PODFather?
The PODFather logistics solution can help to tackle these multi drop route plan challenges for drivers as it includes many key features. From route planning and optimisation, vehicle checks and tracking through to providing customer notifications, ePOD and reporting functionality, the PODFather system is helping businesses throughout the UK plan and manage efficient distribution operations that keep transport teams, customers and drivers happy.
The driver app, which runs on even the most basic of smartphones, has also been designed to enable you to automatically collect vehicle checks, upload jobs to drivers and capture proof of delivery in real-time.
We’d love to show you just what our ePOD and delivery management system can do and how it can help your business. Get in touch and we can arrange a 30-minute online demonstration with one of our expert team.