If you own a business that offers last-mile delivery or performs stops for field service work, you already understand the importance of route planning for your stops. It can impact your bottom line, customer satisfaction levels, and the rate at which you can grow your customer base or business. That’s why it’s important to consider using a multiple stop route planner.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of your business could depend on it. After all, in today’s competitive business environment, customers have high expectations. Thanks to Amazon and similar online behemoths, they’ve become accustomed to speedy home deliveries. Fail to meet their expectations, and your customers will quickly move on to your competition.
For these reasons and others, your business must have an efficient and cost-effective solution for its needs. Historically, businesses have employed fleet managers to plan a multi-stop route manually, but sophisticated apps have gained popularity with businesses of all sizes in recent years.
In this article, we’ll look at how a software solution can help your business thrive. We’ll also discuss 6 key things to consider when choosing the right planner for your business.
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How a Multi-Stop Route Planner Can Help Your Business
Let’s first look at what a route planner is and how it can help your business thrive.
A route planner is an app or software solution that relies on sophisticated algorithms to plot routes mapping directions to multiple addresses and stops. Route planners are most often used by businesses or freelance couriers that offer last-mile delivery and businesses that manage field service workers (e.g., lawnmowing company, internet installation business. etc.). Typically, the user wants to find either the shortest route plan in terms of distance or the quickest route plan to complete all the stops.
A well-designed route planner will calculate the best route (e.g., shortest distance between the stops, fastest time) in mere seconds. Importantly, a good route planner will rely on the most up-to-date traffic and road information and optimize routes to all the stops according to this real-time data. So, while you may be tempted to rely on Google Maps for your route planning, be aware that its algorithm is not designed to optimize for a multi-stop route. What you save by doing a free Google maps, you are likely losing by sending your delivery driver out on under-optimized routes.
Ultimately, a route planner app will save your business two essential things: time and money. It will also help reduce/eliminate human errors that can’t be completely avoided when relying on manual planning. Furthermore, the software’s algorithms and access to real-time data will ensure that your multi-stop routes are optimized to the degree that isn’t possible for a human to calculate. Finally, with reduced delivery errors and improved delivery times, your customers’ satisfaction levels are likely to increase.
With the time and money savings realized through better planning, you can position your business more effectively against your competition and grow your client base or the regions you deliver/serve more quickly.
6 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Multi-Stop Route Planner
Now that you understand how a multi-destination route planner can positively impact your business’s competitiveness and ability to grow let’s take a look at six key things to consider when shopping for a route planner with multiple stops.
What Are Your Current Business Needs?
It’s important to understand your business’s current needs when it comes to multi-stop route planning. Many planning software solutions offer a tiered subscription model, allowing businesses to opt-in at the level that suits their needs and move to the next tier if/when their needs increase.
To determine your current business needs, take some time to gather the following information:
- How many stops or addresses do you currently serve?
- How many routes does your business currently need to plan?
- How many delivery drivers or field service workers (i.e., # users) do you currently employ?
- What information would be of the highest value in your planning (e.g., current traffic conditions, road closures, fuel savings, etc.)?
- What operating system(s) do you currently use in your business? Mac, Windows, iPhone/iPad, Android, etc.
What Are Your Business Goals?
Knowing your current business needs is a good first step to choosing a multi-stop route planner, but it’s equally important to have a solid idea of your future business goals. For example, if your business goals include an aggressive expansion plan in the coming months, you’ll need to take this into account when shopping for a multi-stop route planner. On the other hand, if your business is a side hustle and you intend to keep it as such, you’ll want to bear this in mind when shopping.
You’ll want to consider your short-term and medium-term business goals while also keeping those longer-term goals in mind as you search for the right multi-stop route planning solution. Remember that some route planners are designed specifically to serve small and medium-sized businesses, while other route planners offer enterprise solutions.
Here are a few things to take into consideration when shopping for a route planning software solution that’s going to best suit your future business goals:
- Do you anticipate significant growth in the number of stops and users (i.e., delivery drivers/field service workers) that will use the software?
- Do you anticipate significant growth in the number of addresses and/or stops you will be serving?
- How do you plan to remain competitive in your industry? For example, will you compete on costs, customer satisfaction, etc.?
How Much Time Does it Take to Manage Your Routes?
It’s important to have a sense of how much time it currently takes to manage your routes, so you can determine the time savings that a multi-stop routing app will provide.
Take stock of your current process.:
- Who is responsible for planning each route? Do you leave it up to your drivers to plan their routes, or have you assigned responsibility for one of your managersf?
- How are your staff gathering their stops? And planning their routes? Are they relying on their ‘gut,’ using Googe maps, or using a combination of experience and technology?
- Where is time being lost due to manual planning and related errors? For example, how often are deliveries made to the wrong address, and how much time is spent correcting these human errors?
If your current process is ad hoc, you might want to consider collecting some data from your staff so that you have a sense of how much time is being spent on route planning. Even a ballpark figure will help you determine a baseline so that you can estimate the time savings you’ll incur from investing in a route planning software solution.
How Much Money Could You Save With a Route Planner?
You’ll also want to get a sense of the cost savings you could enjoy by investing in a route planning software solution.
There are many costs related to inefficient manual planning, including:
- Labor costs – inefficient routes mean your delivery drivers or field service workers are on the road for longer, thus unable to complete as many deliveries or service calls. You’ll also be incurring more labor costs if your drivers are expected to plan their routes manually or if you are assigning the task of route planning to one of your managers.
- Fuel costs – the more inefficient your routes, the more your fuel costs will tend to be. Route optimization software can calculate the most fuel-efficient routes based on real-time information so that your delivery driver can avoid traffic jams, road closures, etc.
- Vehicle wear and tear – the more miles your vehicles spend on the road, the more repairs and maintenance they’ll require. When deliveries or field service workers are a cornerstone of your business model, these costs can add up quickly and impact your bottom line significantly.
It may not be possible to determine exactly how much money you’ll save by investing in a route planning app until you use it and can compare pre-app and post-app costs. By collecting data on your current costs of deliveries, you should get a sense of how much opportunity there is to cut costs and how your bottom line could be impacted.
How Much Will a Route Planner Cost?
Multiple stop route optimization apps and software solutions can vary significantly in cost, depending on the features they offer. Ideally, you want to find one that meets your business needs and saves you the most amount of money.
It may be tempting to opt for a free or low-budget route planning app, but you’ll want to consider the above-noted factors when choosing your route planner. In other words, you want to invest in a route planner that will grow along with your business needs. Luckily, most of the top-rated route planning apps offer a tiered pricing model, so you can invest at the lower range and upgrade as your business needs change.
So what can you expect to pay for a route planning app? Well, it all depends on your needs. For example, OptimoRoute has monthly plans starting at USD 17.10 per driver, while Routific’s monthly plans start at $39/vehicle and OnTime 360 offers monthly plans starting at $39 for two users. Upper Route Planner, on the other hand, starts at $9,99 per user.
For more information,
Download Upper Route Planner and get started now
Is the Route Planner Easy to Use?
Route optimization apps are supposed to make life easier, so when you’re shopping for one to use in your business, make sure it’s user-friendly. Furthermore, make sure it includes all the features your drivers will need to optimize routes.
A few key questions to consider when shopping for an easy-to-use route planning solution:
- Does the route planner offer easy-to-read directions? You want to move beyond spreadsheets and ideally provide your drives with an easy-to-read map with driving directions that are up-to-date and clear.
- Does the software provide live driver tracking? This feature is especially valuable to the fleet manager and keeps customers updated when they can expect their delivery or field service visit.
- Does the software optimize routes for the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient options? When planning a route with multiple stops, the importance of finding the most cost-effective route becomes more important. While Google Maps may work just fine when planning a trip from Point A to Point B, it lacks the sophistication to optimize a multi-stop route.
Depending on your business, there may be other key features you want to watch for. Do some research to determine if there are route planning apps specifically designed to suit your industry’s needs and what features are considered essential for your industry.
Plan quickly, deliver faster, delight customers and get home early.
Everyone deserves to have simple and easy route planning.
Compare Before You Commit
As with any key business purchase, it’s important to compare your options carefully before committing. Follow the steps outlined above and gather the necessary information about your business to make an informed decision. We, of course, would suggest you using Upper Route Planner. By choosing wisely now, you can avoid the hassle and cost of switching platforms in the future. Find a multi-stop route planning software solution that will work for you today, tomorrow, and well into the future. Then congratulate yourself on reducing your delivery expenses, increasing efficiencies, and providing more opportunities to grow your customer base and/or delivery regions.