Learn strategies, techniques, and tips that can help you plan better delivery routes so that you plan the best routes for every single delivery.
How to Improve Fleet Dispatching
When done properly, fleet dispatching can enhance your revenue and allow you to scale operations. Here, we show you how to improve it.
Today we will show you how to improve fleet dispatching.
When done properly, fleet dispatching can enhance your revenue and allow you to scale operations with ease.
But here’s the problem:
The more drivers and vehicles you have, the more complicated it is to perform deliveries or service assignments on time.
That’s why in this article we’re going to help you and explain everything you need to know about:
- Fleet Dispatching
- How to manage delivery fleet dispatching?
- Five useful techniques in fleet dispatch
- How to streamline fleet dispatch
Let’s get started.
What Makes Up a Delivery Fleet?
A delivery fleet is the main structure of any delivery or field service operation. It involves the physical fleet: vehicles, drivers, and delivery agents that pick up and drop off orders to customers. But also support structures and teams, such as dispatchers, route planners, logistics, and inventory managers.
That’s why fleet management involves everything from proactive maintenance and route planning to final proof of delivery.
Besides vehicles, people, processes, and structures, it also involves technology. And the use of digital tools such as delivery management software and driver apps like eLogii.
Modern fleet managers use these solutions for tracking drivers and monitoring performance in real-time. (While the drivers are in the field).
Still, the goal remains the same as always:
Ensuring flawless fulfillment from the transportation hub to the customer’s doorstep.
To achieve this, you have to have maximum visibility at every leg of the journey.
And for that, you need fleet dispatching:
What Is Fleet Dispatching?
The dispatch department plays a big part in every delivery fleet.
Fleet dispatching is the act of directing and organizing drivers and vehicles to finalize and accomplish tasks. It’s used to conduct deliveries, pickups, and in-field service teams for businesses of different sizes.
What Does a Fleet Dispatcher Do?
Let’s make it clear, being a fleet dispatcher isn’t an easy job.
They are in charge of all your drivers or technicians in the field.
They manage operations in the field, and make sure everything is running on time.
If issues occur, they’re job is also to proactively resolve them.
Fleet dispatchers have many duties, which can be broken down into two main sections:
- managing people
- managing logistics
Managing people involves driver tracking and ensuring drivers complete tasks according to plans. But also providing support to drivers while they’re in the field.
Managing logistics means providing logistical support to teams and making sure that drivers have everything they need to do their jobs.
This means coordinating different structures and processes that allow other teams to do their tasks efficiently. For example, ensuring drivers go to the right depot site to pick up orders.
What Does Fleet Dispatching Look Like?
Fleet dispatching can be described as a dynamic job.
Each fleet dispatcher’s engagements are specific to their industry.
For instance, public transit dispatchers need to pay attention to traffic patterns. But they don’t typically approve expenses for drivers and they don’t need to adjust work orders.
On the other hand, HVAC dispatchers have to adjust work orders and help with the vehicle maintenance schedules.
Also, depending on the size of a company, dispatchers can share people management responsibilities with other employees.
How to Manage Delivery Fleet Dispatching?
So far, you’ve learned that delivery dispatching means organizing and directing drivers to fulfill their tasks.
Fleet management plays a significant role in improving the effectiveness of modern-day vehicle routing and scheduling.
Delivery dispatch is used to manage deliveries. But to do so, you need to focus on:
Logistics management refers to the planning, organization, and control of operations, services, facilities, people, and technology involved in the storage and flow of goods from the first to the last mile of delivery.
In many cases, logistics managers are responsible for overseeing supply chain networks, inventory, and the transportation of these goods, as well as the fleets and people that carry out these activities.
Because of the huge scope of work involved in managing logistics, companies often divide the responsibilities into several branches.
Depending on the size of the business each division is managed by a different person.
This includes supply chain managers, depot and inventory managers, fleet and delivery managers. In smaller companies, COOs or dispatchers can assume these roles.
But in all of these cases, the goal of logistics management remains the same:
To ensure operational efficiency so that the organization can meet all requirements according to customer expectations of last-mile delivery.
In other words: logistics management controls every part of the delivery to ensure its success.
Driver management is a part of delivery logistics. It involves organizing drivers and their activities to ensure maximum output and performance of the whole delivery fleet. But also keeping to various safety and work requirements of each driver to ensure legal compliance and happiness in the workplace.
The work of a driver manager typically involves organizing drivers into shifts, planning their activities, supplying them with information, and overseeing their performance in the field.
More often than not, one person (fleet manager) or dedicated teams (dispatchers) manage all of the drivers in a delivery fleet.
These people also:
- Plan delivery routes and schedules
- Dispatch drivers to pick-ups and drop-offs
- Dynamically adjust routes on-the-go
- Oversee driver activities and supervise
- Communicate with drivers in the field
- Collect status reports and proof of delivery
- Provide ETAs and ensure on-time delivery
- And more
With the help of fleet dispatching software, dispatchers or fleet managers can gain access to valuable information about drivers’ behaviors.
This can include idling, sudden route changes, hard braking, and unnecessary acceleration.
Understanding the key goals of delivery also depends on vehicle management.
Vehicle management is yet another part of logistics management. It involves managing the delivery fleet from the point of view of its vehicle. This includes organizing and dispatching vehicles but also managing load capacity, fuel consumption, and maintaining their working order and equipment.
Vehicle dispatching and management involves various areas of responsibility, including:
- Vehicle purchases
- Vehicle Insurance
- Maintenance of the vehicle
- Accident and safety management
- Asset management
- Fuel management
Technically, it means making sure that vehicles perform and can perform deliveries when the drivers use them.
Today, vehicle managers and dispatchers also use digital tools to do this, such as vehicle route optimization software.
5 Useful Techniques in Fleet Dispatch
#1 Focus on People Management
People management skills are crucial for fleet dispatching. That’s because, as a dispatcher, you want your drivers to know that you are there for them.
Fleet dispatchers are the go-to people for all drivers’ questions. But also the main points of authority and support while they are on the road.
It’s essential to put yourself in their shoes, especially when you’re helping them troubleshoot a stressful situation.
You need to keep compassion and understanding at the forefront of every communication.
Technically, people management is all about supervising workers to help them do their job effectively.
#2 Clear Communication
It’s more useful to over-communicate than to miss an important update.
A delay in communication can negatively affect customers and overall operations.
But at the same time, you don’t want to overdo it. As too much communication can have a negative effect on driver safety and performance.
So as a dispatcher, you need to be proactive about checking on your team and getting constant status updates.
That’s why you need to use last-mile delivery solutions that give you visibility over the fleet.
So you can stay on top of operations. But also have a balance between control and clear communication.
By proactively communicating with your team, you can keep operations running smoothly, increase customer satisfaction, and boost profits.
#3 Get to Know the Organization
You can’t dispatch efficiently if you don’t know the nature of your field workers’ jobs and your organization.
For instance, an HVAC dispatcher needs to know how many work hours and people are required for each repair request.
They also need to know what kind of equipment is required and whether a technician needs a distinct set of skills.
On the other hand, a delivery dispatcher has to know how many orders on average drivers can complete per route.
If you don’t do the job of your field teams, you’ll need to gain a deeper knowledge of what their jobs involve.
#4 Schedule Deliveries in Advance
If you want to be successful at dispatching, you need to plan routes with multiple stops and schedule deliveries in advance.
Early planning helps dispatchers recognize when they need to bring on another driver to cover a shift.
Planning in advance is essential for making sure you have enough people working to meet demand.
Dispatchers might need to reorganize jobs that demand specialized or heavy equipment.
Another important thing that needs to be factored in to make sure jobs can be completed on time is vehicle maintenance and tool repairs.
#5 Use Technology
Technology is the key to improving dispatching.
From hardware to software, each dispatcher uses modern technology to streamline its process.
The use of a fleet management system guarantees that operations are in line with company goals, rather than serve as a problem-solving tool.
With software automation, you can also collect reports, manage drivers and vehicles, generate delivery notifications, and keep track of key metrics in delivery logistics.
It simplifies the process and helps dispatchers get better and faster at what they do.
How to Streamline Fleet Dispatch?
- Optimize Routes
- Plan Better Schedules
- Make Dynamic Adjustments
- Schedule Breaks
- Apply Driver Constraints
- Monitor Vehicle Capacity
- Track Drivers
- Analyze KPIs
According to Praxedo estimates, over half of all businesses still dispatch and schedule operations with manual tools.
This is particularly frustrating when you have to plan routes for all the vehicles in your fleet.
With route optimization software, this job is easier to do.
Besides planning routes for vehicles, the software calculates the best, most optimal route your drivers need to take.
And you can do this regardless of the number of stops and orders. Or the number of vehicles and drivers in your fleet.
Plan Better Schedules
Besides planning and optimizing routes, using software has another advantage:
You can plan better delivery schedules.
Once you plan a route, the software automatically generates a schedule for each driver.
You can then choose to adjust the schedule, for example, based on order priority or type of delivery.
Also, because you don’t manually plan routes, these schedules are more precise. And each stop on the route has a more accurate estimated time of arrival (ETA).
This can help you to schedule more deliveries or prevent bottlenecks from happening at pick-up.
It also enables you to take your service to the next level by providing a more accurate time of delivery to your customers.
Make Dynamic Adjustments
Fleet managers and dispatchers know that anything can happen once drivers set out on their routes.
If a vehicle gets stuck in traffic or a driver is delayed with a customer, that can have a serious impact on the pre-planned route and schedule.
That’s why routing software is a dynamic solution.
You can adjust delivery schedules and routes in real-time.
So if something were to happen, dispatchers get immediately notified. And then, react to the situation by adjusting the route or schedule to plan for the delay.
This ensures that all of the orders reach customers on time.
That protects the reputation of your company and leads you to build brand awareness with last-mile delivery.
It’s easy to get caught up with orders and forget about your drivers. That’s why when you use software you can immediately add driver breaks to their delivery schedules.
This helps fleet dispatchers comply with regulations, and keeps delivery teams safe and happy while on the job.
Apply Driver Constraints
Not all drivers or field agents are the same. Some have special skills or roles. Others require unique treatment due to their health or age. While others still may have relationships with repeat customers.
Software lets you take all of this into account when planning deliveries. You can do this by setting up specific driver constraints.
From meeting work hour requirements, through scheduling drivers with unique equipment or vehicles to specific locations, to allocating enough time drivers can spend with customers.
All of this works together to reduce delays and improve the efficiency of your fleet.
Monitor Vehicle Capacity
In 2020, the impact of COVID-19 on last-mile delivery was HUGE. Many companies struggled to meet the overnight demand caused by the virus.
To raise capacity, and without the use of technology, many resorted to expanding their fleets. Which, in turn, led to unexpected costs and capital investments in an already uncertain time.
Those that used technology were better prepared to handle the crisis. And instead of raising the number of drivers or vehicles, they raised the capacity of their fleet.
By using software, you can monitor how many orders each vehicle picks up at a depot. It also means that you have a clear overview of idle space in each vehicle.
To improve last-mile delivery when demand exceeds capacity, all you have to do is reduce idle space and raise the order volume per vehicle.
You can also see when each vehicle has to return to a depot site, and optimize how often and how many orders they pick up.
As a result, you don’t have to expand the size of your fleet. But instead, you can simply track its capacity and raise it according to the demand for your delivery services.
Driver tracking is important for several reasons:
Like fleet tracking, it lets you continuously follow the location of your drivers as they move along the last mile of delivery.
Because of this, dispatchers can know:
- What your drivers are doing
- What’s the next stop on their route
- What tasks they have completed
- If they’re complying with your instructions
- How well they are performing
- And if drivers will finish all their tasks on time
With the help of this information, a dispatcher can:
- Keep drivers on schedule
- Predict more accurate ETAs
- Plan deliveries as orders arrive
- Adjust routes on the go
Analyzing KPIs is the main activity to which all others will measure up.
To track order accuracy and other KPIs, you need to use software.
On the one hand, key metrics help you to benchmark the performance of your fleet.
On the other hand, monitoring them helps you to uncover wasteful processes.
This in turn can help you implement tactics to grow your delivery operations. But also continuously optimize and improve the last mile.
Now It’s Your Turn
We hope that you enjoyed our guide to fleet dispatching.
And now it’s your turn to use these techniques to improve how you dispatch your fleet
But why stop there?
There’s more that we can do for you.
We have everything you need to start improving your entire delivery.