July 13, 2022
The longer a delivery route, the more room for error, not to mention force majeure.
As a result, your total mileage, driver hours, and gas costs keep growing, orders can not be fulfilled in the designated time slots or even on designated days, and customer satisfaction plummets.
And still, if your service area extends over a large territory, e.g. across state lines, multi-day delivery routes are inevitable. The question is, how do you organize them with precision and efficiency?
In this blog post, we're looking at route management solutions for interstate delivery service providers.
Before we dive into vehicle routing solutions for interstate delivery services, we need to understand the kinds of common challenges and pain points they address.
Planning a delivery route with multiple drops is a challenge in and of itself. There are many things to keep in mind and consider while scheduling deliveries. Just to name a few.
Even if your service area is within one part of town, planning deliveries and collections and arranging them in multi stop routes can be a struggle.
When you offer interstate shipping, multi drop route planning gets even more complicated. You still need to consider all the same factors and restrictions but the stakes are higher because customers want to be served on time and in full while your margin of error is larger.
Multi-day routes make it harder to accurately plan and account for mileage, gas costs, and driver hours.
Because interstate delivery services can last for days, all kinds of force majeure can happen. Road accidents, bad weather conditions, and even longer waiting times at the gas station all result in longer routes.
Longer routes, in turn, result in extra mileage, higher total fuel costs, and extra driver hours that need to be compensated for. As costs keep piling up, peace of mind and good customer service are increasingly harder to maintain.
Driver and vehicle tracking is always a challenge when you have more than one courier and more than one job a courier manager needs to do except for tracking.
Interstate freight companies in the United States often install GPS tracking devices in their trucks. This way vehicle location can be monitored in real-time.
Fleet GPS trackers are not the only option. As an interstate courier service, you can track your drivers through their mobile phones when you have delivery software in place. More on that later.
Ensuring driver safety can be a big issue with interstate shipping. Speeding and not getting enough rest are not uncommon among truck drivers and can both result in serious injuries and even fatalities.
Therefore, it's important to give drivers the tools to stay safe - such as enforcing breaks and regulating working hours, especially during multi-day routes.
Timely truck maintenance is also essential and often overlooked when it comes to interstate delivery services. Meanwhile, it can be a time saver when fulfilling orders and a lifesaver when ensuring driver safety.
Proving deliveries and collections is the key part of the final mile. If your driver visits multiple stops per day and needs to keep a good record of all the services performed over the course of a days-long route, things are bound to get complicated.
Especially if your field staff needs to collect paper invoices to prove that interstate delivery services have been rendered - paper documents will inevitably be lost and mixed up.
Scanning and filing all documents at the end of the route can take hours provided nothing was lost along the way.
Now that we've defined the biggest challenges associated with providing interstate delivery services, let's look at the tried and tested solutions available on the market of routing software.
Route planner apps for teams were created to make the lives of dispatchers and route managers easier. Route planning software will consider all order details and customers' preferences to build multi drop delivery routes.
Another thing a good route planner will do is build multi drop delivery routes that take several days. If you think you'll need to sacrifice precision and customer service to pull this off, consider this.
Route optimization software like Track-POD can organize unlimited stops into one route extended over several days.
Thanks to automated rescheduling, the system will transfer unfulfilled orders to the next day in case time slots can't be met on the same day.
To use multi-day routing in Track-POD, make sure you've enabled time slots and allowed the software to reschedule drops to the next day if unable to meet time slots.
A route optimization algorithm is the heart of any route planner built to optimize your resources. Route optimization serves the purpose of not simply arranging customer addresses in a route but doing so in a way that saves you time and money.
The best part is how little time it takes, even when you're dealing with dozens of orders. Take Track-POD route planner as an example.
After you've uploaded orders into the system via an Excel file or automatically through API, you can choose your optimization strategy and see your total distance, time, and even cost based on the route rates you've specified.
Then you can choose a different strategy and see which one makes the most sense for you - all of this at the stage of route planning to give you time to optimize before dispatching.
Delivery software will always consider your staff's schedule and availability: what time they begin and end the workday, as well as what their home address is in case you choose to plan delivery routes starting from the driver's place of residence.
Another feature that's absolutely essential in planning and optimizing interstate delivery services is drivers' breaks.
Even though you can set the maximum number of hours your couriers can work in a day, enabling mid-day breaks is essential.
As far as route optimization goes, drivers' breaks will be considered along with service time to build a realistic route that allows for handling of the cargo and driver's rest - 2 factors ignored in manual route planning.
Imagine going on a multi-day route only to arrive at the customer's doorstep the next day with the wrong package.
This is a nightmare scenario, even in the shortest delivery route. Going back to retrieve the correct package and arranging a new route to re-deliver will cost a fortune if we're talking about interstate delivery services.
To prevent mistakes, customer complaints, and returns, delivery software like Track-POD comes with a mobile app for the driver. It works as a free barcode scanner app for load and delivery confirmation while also powering live vehicle tracking and Proof of Delivery.
By quickly checking all packages before departure, you can bring your rate of delivery mistakes to zero.
Safety management and proactive vehicle maintenance have a special role to play in organizing interstate shipping. With drivers on the road for days, it's crucial to make sure their trucks don't fail them.
By doing so, you also minimize the chances of delays and extra costs associated with rescheduling deliveries. The good news is that you can use your route planner to create a truck driver safety checklist and customize all items to meet your needs.
This way, you can get your drivers to perform proactive maintenance before and after every route.
By including items such as personal protective equipment you can also make sure your drivers are safe at all times.
How do you make sure your drivers going on multi-day routes never lose or mix up any proof of delivery documentation? You keep it paperless and stored in the cloud.
Last mile delivery software offers paperless Proof of Delivery documents that use live tracking, e-signature, photo and other data to populate a document that confirms successfully rendered interstate delivery services.
Because all data lives in the cloud, your POD documents are automatically synced with the dispatcher dashboard. This means that the back office doesn't need to wait for the driver to complete the route and come back.
Instead, Proof of Delivery PDFs appear in the system as soon as they've been generated using the driver's data.
Interstate delivery services are not easy to manage. There are challenges to be addressed and solutions to be identified. However, with the right tools at your disposal, you can minimize risks and leave no room for mistakes.
If you're curious about Track-POD routing and delivery management solutions described in this article, book a free demo and we'll give you a guided tour.