Big-box stores and shopping centers are known for huge parking lots. By keeping these clean, retailers avoid liability and create a good first impression for shoppers. This is where More Clean of Texas comes in – providing parking lot sweeping services for the most well-known retailers all over the Lone Star State. Founded in 2004 as a local business in Abilene, this commercial exterior maintenance provider now has customers in three other metro areas: Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. With forty employees and a fleet of twenty-five parking lot sweepers, the business covers a 150-mile radius area around each of its four locations. We spoke with Cole Watts, Vice President of More Clean of Texas, about how OptimoRoute helps the business run a stable statewide operation.
1 person plans up to 20 routes across 4 major cities
Scheduling based on time windows to meet contractual obligations
Flexibility to be reactive and make dynamic changes
Proof of service increased compliance by 10%
Business Growth Exposed the Limitations of Manual Routing
Back when More Clean of Texas operated only in Abilene – and had a handful of employees and customers – creating schedules was easy. As the business grew and expanded into the state’s major cities, scheduling became more complicated and time-consuming. Watts was also aware of the efficiency question – was More Clean of Texas being as efficient as possible with its routing?
To make the efficiency improvements Watts suspected were necessary, he first turned to free online routing software. He spent one full week producing static routes for his team, that he simply copied over from one week to the next. It was a limited solution: the schedules allowed for minimal but time-consuming changes, and the schedules were stored in spreadsheets that drivers had to refer to throughout their shifts.
By the start of 2019, with the business still gaining customers and adding vehicles at each of its four main locations, Watts realized it was time for More Clean of Texas to introduce a much more comprehensive routing solution:
“We needed to be more dynamic and change things on the fly. And I wanted to know that our routing was the best possible. Fuel bills were getting high, we were driving more miles than we felt like we needed to. That’s when we started looking for a routing solution.”
Instead of Four Dispatchers, Only One Is Needed to Produce Optimized Schedules and Routes
More Clean of Texas’s customers require that their parking lots are cleaned three to seven times a week, typically from 10 pm to 6 am (while stores are closed, or low-traffic times for 24-hour stores). An average of seventeen sweeping vehicles manage this workload every night, all planned by OptimoRoute:
“At this scale there is no way we could do this manually. And, if not for OptimoRoute, each of our four locations would need to have its own full-time dispatcher. But – we have one corporate dispatcher and she plans all of the routes across the entire state.”
When More Clean of Texas was expanding but still relied on manual planning and spreadsheets, it got to the point where each location’s manager needed a full day each week to tweak and edit routes by hand. Watts explains the value of planning with OptimoRoute:
“Time saved, efficiency gained, the ability to be flexible. It’s not tangible, but for an organization like us it’s very important. The ease of use is huge for us – we saw the difference in the first month.”
Vehicle Movement Recorded With Enough Accuracy to Be Used as Proof of Service Completion
More Clean of Texas is committed to giving its customers high-quality service, pledging to “always treat your property, no matter the size, as if it were our own.” Since customers aren’t onsite overnight to monitor the cleaning, OptimoRoute helps foster trust and transparency in a unique way: with an analytic tool called Breadcrumbs. It shows the exact route drivers took – as though they left a trail of ‘breadcrumbs’ behind them. The tracking is sophisticated enough to capture and process precise driver locations via OptimoRoute’s Mobile Application every few seconds, giving More Clean of Texas a visual of every completed service.
For Watts this advanced insight is invaluable:
“I can literally see foot by foot where a truck has driven on the parking lot – it’s that accurate. Breadcrumbs is a huge data point for us, because without actually being there we can still see what was done. We can see who isn’t doing their job properly, give feedback to drivers and improve their performance.”
When it comes to customer complaints, Breadcrumbs equips Watts with the information he needs to investigate each claim – something that couldn’t be done with regular GPS tracking:
“Previously, if we got a complaint from a customer such as ‘you didn’t sweep the back of our store’ we had no way of checking if the truck went back there or not. Now we just pull up Breadcrumbs, send a screenshot and say ‘this is what our driver did, he covered every inch of that parking lot.’ Our customers are really impressed with Breadcrumbs too!”
Even billing and compliance have improved thanks to Breadcrumbs maps. When a cleaning service is finished, drivers need to record the completion via customers’ apps, otherwise billing can’t happen. However, if this fails for any reason, Watts explains that a Breadcrumbs screenshot sent to the customer is sufficient proof for payment. This has taken compliance from around 90% to 99%:
“We very rarely have work orders that don’t get paid. We’re avoiding the double whammy: our guy’s there and sweeping, we’re paying for him and for fuel. But we don’t get paid if a work order wasn’t completed because of a glitch. So Breadcrumbs is helping us get rid of lost revenue.”
Functional Software Gets the Job Done on Time
With OptimoRoute, More Clean of Texas has more than just a routing solution. It’s versatile software that helps manage work orders, creates schedules according to numerous constraints and parameters, plus provides routing and GPS in a Mobile Application for drivers:
“They enjoy the simplicity of the app – and love not having to open spreadsheets and do all of the extra steps that used to be involved, like entering each address into navigation.”
In terms of logistics, the nightly cleaning operation has two interrelated challenges that OptimoRoute helps manage – a large number of time-sensitive orders needs to be completed across a massive geographical area:
“Texas is a big state, we’re driving thousands of miles every night. Routing is the key to making sure we take care of our stops. And most customers have time windows in their contracts. They’re not small, but still, we must adhere to them.”
Watts is impressed with the reduction in overruns too, particularly for the final order of the route that would regularly finish too late:
“Having the whole schedule and route planned with order length, and start and stop time is so valuable. It takes the subjective element away, because drivers know at the start of their route how long they have for each stop. We avoid customer complaints for being at the lot after the time frame has expired – that right there has made a huge difference.”