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Become a More Efficient Route Planner: 5 Questions to Ask

Exploring tips and strategies to maximize efficiency and customer satisfaction when planning multi-stop delivery routes.

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Increasing Efficiency & Cutting Costs with Route Optimization

Peter Drucker is regarded as one of the most influential figures in modern business management. His most popular quote, according to GrowThink, is “If you can’t quantify it, you can’t change it.” Because of inefficiencies, many companies lose 20-30% of their sales. Many businesses want to rely on free resources like Google Maps, but are they good enough? This article will discuss route planning in general and how to improve your skills using an efficient route planner.

This article will go over the five most important questions to consider when plotting routes with multiple stops. It will assist you in determining what is fine, bad, and outright unacceptable. Finally, you’ll get some practical advice on how to enhance your route planning process and create better driving directions to boost your productivity.

Table of Contents

  • What is Efficiency?
  • Why Does Efficiency Matter?
  • What is Does Efficient Route Planning Involve?
  • What Should You Do to Improve Your Route Planning Efficiency?
  • What’s the Best Free Efficient Route Planner?
  • What is the Best Way to Make a Route with Multiple Stops?
  • Final Thoughts

What is Efficiency?

Let’s start with defining “efficiency”:

"Efficiency signifies a peak level of performance that uses the least amount of inputs to achieve the highest amount of output. Efficiency requires reducing the number of unnecessary resources used to produce a given output including personal time and energy. It is a measurable concept that can be determined using the ratio of useful output to total input. It minimizes the waste of resources such as physical materials, energy, and time while accomplishing the desired output." (Investopedia)

Let’s take a look at some of the main words and define them:

  • Inputs: This is a technical term that refers to everything you contribute to the business process. Time, money, and other resources are all included in this category.
  • Outputs: What you “get out of it” is this. The total number of stops delivered, for example, is the contribution of field salespeople, distribution teams, or firms. It may also be the level of service provided. We’ll go into this in greater depth later.
  • Measurable Unit: Performance helps companies, such as yours, to quantify themselves in the same way that distance and weight are measured in meters and kilograms or pounds. Later in this post, we’ll look at how you can assess your own effectiveness.

We’re talking about answering questions like “How can I better plan my route?” and “How can I map out routes with several stops?” in our sense. “How can I map out these routes as easily as possible?” “How can I complete all of the stops on these routes as quickly as possible?” “What can I remember about route optimization?” says the narrator. “Should I use Google Maps, which is a free service?” Is it necessary for me to pay for a service?” There are several perspectives on this. And deciding on the best alternative, function, and criteria is a difficult task for everyone. These are only a few of the many questions (and others) we’ll try to answer in this post.

Why Does Efficiency Matter?

There are numerous compelling reasons to prioritize efficiency:

  • To keep costs down: lower fuel costs, shorter work times, more effective distribution teams, lower labor costs;
  • Boost customer satisfaction: More quality, faster distribution or shipping;
  • Increase the number of repeat customers: When customer satisfaction is high, repeat business is high as well.
  • Garner positive reviews: When consumers are happy, they tell others about it. Word of mouth is far from dead in the internet age; it is still the most reliable source of information.
  • Get more done: When you improve your pace, you can free up more time in the workplace to make even more changes.
  • Boost profits: The term “profits” is used to describe the bottom line. Of course, this expression is not coincidental. It’s the most important factor to consider.

All of this is important, but to summarize in one point: your company’s survival is contingent on performance. We’re not doing this to scare you; rather, it’s to make you aware of the realities of the world we live in. The reality is that corporations like Amazon and other multinationals are always searching for ways to increase their productivity, and they can do so on a large scale. With the internet, online shopping, and smart consumers, competition is fiercer than ever.

There’s no reason to stay in this doom and gloom for much longer. We’re here to assist and help you in taking charge of your distribution company and your future!

Types of Businesses and Organizations Impacted by Inefficiency

For a long list of companies and organizations, solving the issue of productivity in relation to multi-stop route planning is critical. They are as follows:

  • Delivery drivers;
  • Flower shops;
  • Food delivery;
  • Pharmacies and homecare;
  • Small catering;
  • Couriers;
  • And many more.

Who cares about efficiency?

When attempting to optimize paths, solving this problem is critical for three types of people:

  • The Planner (Manager/Dispatcher): This is the person who plans the multi-stop route. They collect multiple addresses, process the data, and then devise the best routes, which they then communicate to the driver. They may also provide detailed directions for certain stops.
  • The Driver: The driver is the one who receives the multi-location map. They are in charge of determining the quickest and least time-consuming method of completing all of the stops. They use a combination of a chart, a route plan, and a navigation aid to accomplish this.
  • The Customer: They are the “end-users” and recipients of whatever good or service you are offering. They are, after all, the ones you represent, so they are the most important part of the equation.

The target for the first two is to increase efficiencies. In other words, they can complete their tasks more quickly, at a lower cost, and in less time. As a result, it will benefit the third user, the client, and this, in turn, will fuel the delivery business’s growth.

NOTE: It’s possible that the Manager/Dispatcher and the driver are the same person. In most cases, this is true in small companies.

What is Does Efficient Route Planning Involve?

When creating driving directions with multiple exits, paths, and route optimization, one thing the route planner often forgets is that there are several steps in the process. A large number of measures have been specifically listed below. One thing to remember is the Manager’s (or dispatcher’s) function, which includes the “route planner” and the delivery driver.

The Planner (Manager/Dispatcher)

We’ll look at it from the perspective of the distribution company owner and the people who prepare and execute the routes (sometimes the same person). The route planner is in charge of this person. Let’s start with the standard process for users who have never used a multi-stop route planner program. Consider the following example of a caterer who is arranging a delivery for five customers.

Gather The Data

  • Collect information (emails, addresses, contact info)
  • Process information (e.g., put into a spreadsheet or some other form ready for export to a route planning software…or if you use an efficient route planner like EasyRoutes, your orders are already integrated!)

Process the Data

  • Input the data into a route planning software (Google maps)
  • Manually optimization of the list
  • Checking the addresses/stops
  • Checking time windows for delivery, traffic incidents, time constraints, etc
  • Copy the list
  • Send to the driver

Communication

  • Staying in touch with the driver
  • Ok / Agree on the process
  • Change plans according to new situations etc.

The Driver

The delivery driver is often responsible for a variety of duties. Duties can differ depending on the system (computer with spreadsheet, or mobile or a tool like Mapquest) and its capabilities. If the driver switches goods, jurisdictions, tools, or destinations, there is also variability.

Getting There

  • Open app
  • Review the list of stops
  • Input first address
  • Start Navigation
  • Successful or not execution.
  • Mapping
  • Traffic data
  • Service calls (if applicable)
  • etc.

The Deliveries

  • Site assessment
  • Road access
  • Delivery tracking
  • Proof of delivery

Communication

  • Communications with the client
  • Ongoing conversations with the Manager
  • Taking signature or photo proof-of-delivery.

The Customer

Let’s not forget about the client. They are the lifeblood of your business, despite the fact that they are not part of the operational aspects. The following are some of the steps they must take:

  • Initial contact and discovery
  • Ordering
  • Payment
  • Communications
  • Answering questions about delivery
  • Scheduling delivery
  • Reception of delivery package
  • Account settings
  • Notes

In a nutshell, basically every business needs to delivery as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What Should You Do to Improve Your Route Planning Efficiency?

Improving productivity is a never-ending process. The good news is that after reading this post, we hope you’ll have a much better understanding of how to accomplish this important goal. The following are some steps you may take to boost your ability to build multi-stop routes with multiple addresses:

  • Draw out your current process: The first move is to conduct an assessment of your current delivery process.
  • Be specific about use of time: Be very precise about the amount of time it takes to complete and step or mission. For example, how long does it take to receive a customer’s order? How long does it take you to jot down their contact information? How long does it take to enter this address into an excel spreadsheet? And so on.
  • Perform a diagnostic: The next move is to conduct a diagnostic to determine the source of the problems. There’s a good chance you have a lot of room for improvement.
  • Pick the “low-hanging fruit”: “Low hanging fruit” means “easy to do”. In this situation, you’ll also want to choose the acts that will have the greatest effect. In a nutshell, search for events with low input and high output. Start with those.
  • Automate what you can: As seen in the example above, you can automate any acts or steps that you can. Typically, this automation can be accomplished by the use of an online tool.
  • Embrace automation: Build a manual, or at the very least a set of standard operating procedures, if possible. This method would lower uncertainty while also increasing productivity.
  • Use an efficient Route Planner: If you’re still relying on pen and paper or Google Maps or MapQuest, consider investing in a route planner like EasyRoutes.

What’s the Best Free Efficient Route Planner?

Since this is a subjective issue, determining which is the best free route planner or routing program is difficult. The following are some better questions: What inefficiencies do I have? What does it cost me to have these inefficiencies? What approach, regardless of price or subscription, will provide the best opportunity for growth? May I try a few subscriptions for free to see if they’re worth buying?

What is the Best Way to Make a Route with Multiple Stops?

When planning a multi-stop route, you need driving directions to get you to plan my route, map out stops, full routes, and get home as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is to map out your current operating processes, determine the areas will benefit the most from improvement, and then make adjustments to boost outputs.

Final Thoughts

Finally, we hope that this guide has provided you with a better understanding of your business, your position as a “route planner,” and how to evaluate your delivery service. For example, we hope you understand when and why you should use a tool like Google Maps. You now have the knowledge to make the decision on your own. We haven’t gone through the details of other delivery logistics issues, such as route order, pick-ups, distances, GPS tracking, location features, sequence, driver tracking, and so on. However, we have other posts on these subjects in our blog. So please take a look at these various posts, and we hope you’ll find some excellent options for tracking, managing, and achieving improvement in your company and delivery services. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to assist you, and if there is anything else we can do. You can reach out to us at any time for any reason. Before then, get in your car, hit the highways, make those appointments, and meet your objectives by increasing your sales revenue!

About Roundtrip

Roundtrip's mission is to equip every business with the software tools they need to deliver products to their customers in a delightful way. Thousands of Shopify merchants worldwide choose EasyRoutes to power their local deliveries across dozens of product categories, from meal kits and groceries to coffee, cupcakes, kibble, and so much more. Our easy-to-use route planning and delivery optimization app is certified Built for Shopify, a two-time Shopify staff pick, and the top rated local delivery app on the Shopify App Store.

"The EasyRoutes app saves us probably 40 hours per week, and I can genuinely say it would be hard to run our business without it…We plan our routes each morning with three clicks of a mouse which is a massive time saver."
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