Data Interchange Energy Field Sales and Delivery Industry Solutions Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

3 Ways Technology Optimizes Productivity for Your Field Employees

Field employees — whether they are technicians, delivery drivers, route sales reps, or some combination of those jobs — are an extremely valuable and expensive part of your operation. If you don’t properly optimize their schedules or daily workloads, you can wind up with idle employees and equipment or find yourself over-hiring and investing in more routes or vehicles than you actually need.

Technology and planning can help you improve the efficiency of your field employees. That’s good for the company (you can log more jobs or sales without hiring additional employees) and also good for your field staff since they can spend more time earning money and less time driving from job to job.

Here are three examples of how technology can benefit your field operation:

Route Optimization: No matter how skilled your schedulers and dispatchers are, if they are still managing routes manually then your field employees are probably not working to their full potential. Manual routing is prone to human error.

By using an intelligent, automated routing and scheduling tool you can ensure that all routes are optimized based on your own efficiency/productivity goals. Route optimization tools can ensure that stops are organized to minimize time and distance, but within key customer time constraints and expectations.  Route optimization can also ensure that employees take the fastest route between stops, intelligently schedule pick-up/drop-off stops for delivery applications, and even schedule service technicians based on both location and skill set.

Modern route optimization solutions with real-time capabilities can even reroute employees based on traffic, weather, and road construction information. If a job is taking too long, the next stop can be automatically rerouted to another employee.

These features can keep the schedule on track, improve customer service, save fuel, and boost productivity — and routes can be optimized and communicated even before the shift begins.

Anticipate Customer Needs: Inventory management tools can help your delivery or route sales drivers arrive at each customer stop with the right merchandise and equipment on hand. New predictive analytics and forecasting tools can help sales operations forecast what their customers need before an order is placed or the driver arrives, which can help improve the efficiency of each stop.

In field service applications, sensors, automation, machine-to-machine interfaces, and cloud computing resources can help companies remotely diagnose (and in some cases repair) assets and equipment. By knowing what is wrong with a machine before they arrive to fix it, technicians can be sure to have the right tools and parts, which will improve both the first-time fix rate and overall productivity.

Leverage Technology on the Truck and in the Field: With mobile computers, GPS technology, and/or telematics solutions in your company vehicles you can further boost employee productivity.

By deploying automated delivery, inventory, or work order management solutions on mobile companies or tablets in the field, employees can quickly provide status updates, document their work, obtain customer signatures/payments, and close out work orders without time-consuming paperwork.

Combined with real-time wireless communications, these systems can also automatically update ERP, CRM, and route optimization solutions in real time. Managers and dispatchers can see the status of each job/stop and use that information to adjust the schedule if necessary.

GPS-based fleet tracking units on the truck can also update the location of each employee, time-stamp arrivals and departures to improve documentation/billing, and help automatically populate driver logs, hours of service documentation, or fuel tax forms, saving even more time for field employees.

The technology can also provide solutions for electronic logging devices (ELDs), hours of service (HOS) management, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR), and other compliance and operations requirements.

With the right technology solutions in place to optimizing your routing and scheduling, anticipate the needs of each work order/customer, and track the progress and location of your staff and vehicles, you can greatly enhance both the efficiency and productivity of your field employees.

Field Sales and Delivery Mobility Route Accounting

How Route Accounting Solutions Help Drivers Reach More Stops

When it comes to delivery and sales routes, efficiency is a key driver of profitability. The more stops the driver can successfully service in a shift, the higher the revenue that route can generate.

There are a number of factors that can impede route efficiency, but mobile route accounting solutions can make it possible for drivers to more quickly complete each stop while still providing more accurate service to each customer. Route accounting solutions also provide better data and improved visibility into route performance and untapped sales opportunities, too.

Even reducing each stop by just a few minutes can, in aggregate make it possible to add one or more stops per route. Even adding just one stop per day can significantly improve revenue and cash flow, important considerations in industries like baked goods and snacks, where margins are often razor thin.

According to a study conducted by the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), the most efficient direct store delivery (DSD) suppliers spend 13.8 fewer minutes for each delivery to large-format stores, and spend nearly twice as much time on merchandising than inefficient suppliers. In fact, efficient DSD personnel spend 50 percent of their time in stores merchandising, compared to just 27 percent for inefficient operators. A key part of that efficiency is the use of route accounting solutions.

Here’s how these mobile solutions can improve route efficiency:

1. Reduce Drive Time: Many route solutions include optimization engines that can help reorganize routes so that drivers spend less time behind the wheel and more time servicing accounts and merchandising.

2. Eliminate Paperwork: According to the GMA, DSD drivers spend as much as 6% of their time preparing invoices at customer locations. Route accounting solutions that leverage mobile computing technology allow drivers to quickly complete deliveries and automatically generate accurate invoices on their mobile devices and mobile printers.

3. Automate Check-In: The Direct Exchange electronic data interchange standard allows suppliers to automatically transmit invoice information to retailers. With DEX connectivity, a route accounting solution can help eliminate tedious check-n processes, while eliminating errors and administrative costs. According to the GMA study, automated check-in can reduce DSD receiving time by 60%.

4. Accelerate Inventory Processes: Using mobile computers with barcode scanning capability allows drivers to quickly scan merchandise off of their truck inventory, as well as speed up on-shelf inventory management. Drivers no longer have to spend time writing down inventory counts, and the data is typically more accurate.

5. Automate Reconciliation:With automated invoicing, more accurate inventory data, and DEX connectivity, route accounting solutions automate the entire reconciliation process. Drivers no longer have to spend time manually matching their paperwork, and administrative staff can receive accurate route information that can quickly be verified at the end of each shift.

6. On-Site Payment Processing:Using a route accounting solution and a mobile computer, drivers can even accept retailer payments at the point of delivery. There’s no paperwork to shuffle, and drivers don’t have to call the office to verify credit card numbers. Payments can be made quickly, which not only saves time for the driver but also accelerates the cash cycle.

Route accounting solutions can shave precious minutes from each stop on the delivery driver’s route. Drivers can add more stops per shift, improve data accuracy, and boost customer satisfaction.

Manufacturing Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

The Benefits of Route Accounting Solutions for Bakeries

Because their products are highly perishable and require weekly or even daily replenishment, bakery companies have a keen interest in any technology that can improve route efficiency and order accuracy. Route accounting solutions for bakeries can accomplish both of those goals with the help of mobile computers and real-time wireless communication.

The quality of information exchanged between your field sales force and the corporate office has a significant impact on the efficiency of your route processes. A route accounting solution designed for bakeries enables your field sales representative to service the customer, accept purchase orders on site, provide invoices and collect payment, while better managing customer and truck inventories.

Route accounting solutions enable a two-way exchange of data. As sales orders are sent in, customer and pricing information is automatically updated on the mobile device. This eliminates error-prone paper forms, faxes, and phoned-in orders.  Below are some of the other key benefits of a route accounting solution for bakeries:
Real-Time Customer Inventory DataA mobile route accounting solution that uses barcode scanning to track deliveries and returns helps bakeries keep track of sales at each customer site. This helps better manage the product mix at each location and allows bakeries to document and identify shifts in demand. Having that information on hand also helps the sales team make better recommendations to customers.

Store managers, sales managers, and delivery personnel spend hundreds of hours trying to resolve invoice discrepancies. Route accounting solutions can eliminate this unproductive work by providing real-time, accurate order and invoice data to all parties, along with fast route audit and settlement processes.

Real-time order management helps improve production. Better inventory information also helps reduce out of stocks and returns. With a better idea of how fast inventory is moving at each customer site, bakeries can also reduce stales rates, which not only improves customer relationships, but also saves money.

A More Efficient Sales force

Route accounting solutions for bakeries put valuable customer, order, and inventory data right in the sales reps’ hands. This reduces manual data entry, paper shuffling, and phone calls that were required to complete deliveries or answer customer questions. Taking shelf inventory is a snap using a barcode scanner, and saves even more time.

Sales representatives can quickly complete the delivery and order taking process, which gives them more time to spend upselling customers or re-working displays to improve sales. This also helps the reps save time for the customers (who can reduce receiving time), and allows them to complete more stops on their own routes.

Increased Sales

Route accounting software for bakeries provides real-time customer data to sales reps, who can then use that sales history and promotional data to more effectively engage with customers at the point of transaction. They can immediately take advantage of potential add-on or upsell opportunities, provide more competitive pricing and discounts, generate quotes on the spot, and accept payment using their mobile computers.

Reduced Paperwork

Using a mobile route accounting solution for bakeries, you can let customers check their sales information right on the mobile device and collect electronic signatures on the screen. Reps can issue invoices and receipts via e-mail or with mobile printers as soon as the delivery is made or payment is collected. All sales orders can be viewed on screen, which eliminates the need for bundles of paper order sheets. Removing paper and manual data collection also reduces errors.

This not only saves printing time and paper costs, but also eliminates problems associated with lost documents. All of the information can immediately be uploaded into billing, accounting, and inventory systems. If there is a question about an order or delivery later, sales reps can easily call up that information electronically. The billing cycle is also accelerated because invoices can be generated instantaneously.

Route accounting solutions for bakeries can make your sales representatives and delivery drivers more informed, effective and efficient. This saves time and reduces costs, while also enabling the entire team to provide better customer service and boost sales.

Barcode Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

How Mobile Devices Improve Route Accounting Solutions

If there’s one thing business owners can agree on, it’s this: efficiency is vital to success. Every business is run differently, but time, energy, and resources should always be handled in a way that maximizes the performance and profitability of operations. When it comes to route accounting, having a feature-rich and configurable solution can truly make a difference. The process of loading, shipping, and delivering products to consumers must be organized and effective. In order to streamline these route accounting operations, businesses should look to mobile devices.

The benefits mobile devices bring to route accounting include:

Real-time tracking
Any business using route accounting solutions knows that having visibility throughout the supply chain is paramount. Knowing where specific orders are and what time they got there allows businesses to take care of any problems immediately. Mobile devices can keep managers up to date on items that have been successfully delivered, but they can also help track returned or damaged items.

Properly tracking items all the way to delivery can help handle customer disputes. Customers might argue about the condition of the delivered products – or whether the product was delivered at all – and you will have recorded information to verify or dispute these claims.

Any business that relies on employees to be quick, knowledgeable, and accurate should be taking advantage of handheld devices. Intermec’s CN51, for example, is a versatile mobile computer that offers a variety of functionalities, including barcode scanning and Remote Deposit Capture (RDC), which converts check payments into electronic documents. Handhelds like the CN51 allow workers to complete a multitude of tasks in record time, and they also come with a small footprint.

Create invoices
Mobile devices eliminate the wait times between delivery and payment. In some cases, it is even possible to accept payments in the field. The ability to create invoices on the spot is invaluable not only to businesses, but to customers as well. As much as business owners want to streamline the invoicing process, it is important to remember that customers want the same thing. The sooner payments can be processed, the better.

Print receipts at the point of transaction
Adding mobile devices to your route accounting solution gives your employees the power to print receipts immediately – wherever they need to print them. Large or bulky receipt printers can be a pain to carry, so drivers often leave them in the truck. Having to return to the truck when a receipt is needed is a huge annoyance, and it also wastes time. Even if the drivers do bring these larger receipt printers with them, they could set them down and accidentally forget them.

Instant access to important business data
Businesses can leverage mobile devices to immediately update inventory levels, and having accurate inventory levels helps companies know which products are selling and how fast they are selling. With mobile devices in place, businesses should never have to worry about running out of inventory.

In addition, workers can instantly look up customer purchase history and data to be more effective when face to face with clients. Mobile devices are also perfect for keeping track of employees and their delivery times. Running reports on the deliveries can help managers gain a better understanding of delivery routes and methods. This information can be used to design more efficient methods of delivery – or at least more efficient routes.

A variety of industries are beginning to realize the value mobile technology can bring to businesses. Thanks to the frequent interactions drivers and workers have with customers, route accounting companies may have the most to gain from this mobile movement. There is no denying that efficiency and productivity lead to bigger profits, and mobile devices provide the perfect avenue to get there.