Why Is Route Planning Important?

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Route planning involves more than laying out a series of destinations on a map and getting directions. Of course, you must ensure you reach all the addresses on your list and know how to get to each location, but countless other variables go into planning a successful route. 

You may wonder, “why is route planning important?” Whether you’re a solo operator or manage a fleet of delivery drivers or service workers, thoughtful route planning is essential to achieving positive results. When done right, route planning can significantly impact everything from operational efficiency to financial performance and the quality of customer service. 

Here’s why route planning is critical to the success of those three business pillars:

Operational efficiency

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run; efficiency is always a top priority. The more efficient your operation is, the more effectively you can allocate resources, serve customers, and free up profits for the bottom line. 

Route planning is one of the most effective ways to increase efficiency because it helps maximize drivers’ productivity–whether there’s just one or a hundred. Rather than backtracking from one stop to another or letting tasks slip through the cracks due to poor time management, route planning helps ensure everything proceeds as orderly as possible. 

While automated route planning with specialized software can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on operational efficiency, manual route planning can have the opposite effect. After all, manually planning routes can take hours per week at a minimum which means spending your own valuable time or paying someone else to handle that responsibility. Automated route planning software is the way to go if you want to unlock the most efficiency possible. 

Financial performance

Route planning and scheduling can positively affect your business’s finances. Maximizing each driver’s productivity means more deliveries or service calls can be made in less time. Fuel costs are minimized by increasing the efficiency of routes, and vehicle maintenance costs are lessened by putting less wear and tear on your fleet. 

Customer service

When the operation efficiency increases from a solid route plan, it allows for faster response times and deliveries. When you use automated route planning software that incorporates real time data like OptimoRoute does, you can give your customers up-to-the-minute tracking information and updates. Plus, you can collect customer feedback to ensure you’re giving the best service possible. 

What Factors Drive Route Planning?

Route planning can be complicated, whether you have just one vehicle to worry about or fifty. That’s because many factors go into making a successful route, and all of these factors must be kept in mind simultaneously when you’re in the planning stage. 

Here’s a short list of a few key factors that need to be considered during the route planning process:

  • Vehicle capacity: The size of your vehicle(s) and its load capacity can affect which roads and how far it can travel, and how many shipments it can handle.
  • Time sensitivity: Customers may require specific time windows for a service appointment or a delivery, and some delivery items, e.g., refrigerated foods, may have short windows before spoilage becomes a concern.
  • Downtime: Driver breaks, refueling stops, and time spent interacting with customers must be accounted for when planning a route to ensure enough time is allotted for each stop.
  • Special situations: Job-specific requirements may factor into a route plan, e.g., one vehicle has a power lift needed for a certain delivery, or one service worker has a special certification required to complete a repair call.
  • Real time adjustments: Whether it’s last-minute orders that come in after the route has already been planned or a driver calling in sick, you need to be able to adjust your route in real time to deal with issues.

There’s a lot of data to consider when planning a route. Many businesses are turning to automated solutions to ensure all bases are covered rather than relying on pen and paper or basic mapping software. 

What Is the Importance of a Route Plan in Effective Market Coverage?

The importance of route planning when covering your market can’t be understated. Whether you have a small service area or a large one, you need to make sure the resources available in terms of workers and vehicles meet the needs of your geographical service radius. 

There are different types of route planning based on the type of business you run. Still, whether you’re operating a delivery-based or service-area business, planning routes effectively can help you make more stops in less time. That means minimizing costs and making your customers happier at the same time. 

Once you’ve thoroughly covered your market and your business is running efficiently, thanks to the resources you’ve been able to free up, you may consider expanding your territory by entering new markets. In this case, strategic route planning will help you discern whether you need to acquire more vehicles or hire more operators before moving.

If you’d like to learn more about how to plan an effective route, check out this route planning example

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