Which Route is the Best Route?

Service routes are constantly evolving and changing as your business grows. Are you keeping up?
Which Route is the Best Route?

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When people ask what I do, I commonly tell them that I own a trucking company. Yes, we rent portable toilets. Yes, we pump waste. But my company wouldn’t exist without all the trucks in our fleet. So we are, in essence, a trucking company.

The biggest piece of the puzzle for a trucking company is your routes. No one wants a driver to waste his entire day driving in circles. Or to be the driver stuck on a major parkway when his truck can’t fit under an underpass. This is why routing and the software you use are so important.

Our company uses TAC, a software produced by Clear Computing. Not only does it manage our order entry, billing and inventory, it also manages our routes. TAC allows the user to place new stops onto the correct route by distance or day. This feature allows customer service to put new deliveries on the routes the same day they take the order, so the customer never misses a day of service.

But for other companies, you may already have a great software system. Or maybe you use Quickbooks and routing needs to be handled separately. But I have a solution for that too.

Originally we did our routes on Excel spreadsheets. This allowed us to easily move stops around, add or delete stops or combine routes when we slow down in the wintertime. Excel is available on almost all computers these days so this is a really easy and cheap solution.

But how do you know if your stops are in the correct order? Don’t worry; I have that answer for you too.

We use a website called Optimap. It is completely free and allows you to put multiple locations into the website and then find the best route to tackle all those stops. We use this as a backup to TAC because it allows us to reroute when there is a bridge closed or when there is road construction, which happens very frequently in the Northeast.

We also rely heavily on driver feedback. They are the ones driving these routes each day. They know when stops need to be rearranged or when a certain site is really out of the way for us. We allow them the flexibility to control their routes because it means that everyone is working more efficiently. 

The last step is to have dispatchers spot-check routes. They will do it at odd times of the day to see how bad the traffic is. They also drive the full route to make sure our drivers aren’t wasting time. Lastly this allows us to make sure a driver can actually service all the locations on his route each day. When a route gets too big, it either means bad service or no service at all because the driver just can’t get to everything in one day.

Routes are ever evolving and changing. This means you and your dispatcher have to work on them constantly. But by putting all that time and energy into routing, you make sure that your company and your trucks are running efficiently. That is always good for business!

About the Author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia.

How do you handle your routes? Is there a certain software or website that you like best? Comment below.



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