10 Ways Courier Services Can Help Drivers Speed Up Delivery.
by Charles McGee - VP of Operations at ParcelPal
Time is money in any industry, and last-mile delivery within the logistics and courier services industry is no exception. In order to get the most out of our on-road operations and set our teams up for success, here are 10 things we do at ParcelPal to help our drivers speed up delivery.
No one plans to fail, they fail to plan, and planning is where the delivery really starts with courier services. It is essential to aggregate orders and synchronize pickups and deliveries throughout the course of the day. The denser a route, the more stops a courier can make, and spend less time on each delivery. By incorporating pickups into your route planning you also make the best use of a courier’s vehicle capacity and eliminate redundant movement that can be involved in arranging next day deliveries. It is important to to optimize routing based not only on total package quantities but by package profiles and available space in the courier vehicle as they complete deliveries. Without the ability to optimize based on these factors you will likely encounter cube outs and underutilized capacity, both of which lead to wasted time on the road.
Organized Sortation and Load Out
A major time thief for drivers on the road is not being able to quickly find their packages. We do our best to make sure that when drivers show up to pick up their routes, they are easy to identify with clear labeling and packages prearranged so that drivers can quickly load their vehicles using a last-in-first-out method. By using this method, drivers know exactly where to find their next package in their vehicle while out delivering. Without setting your drivers up for success in this way, they will undoubtedly lose time on the road trying to dig through their vehicle searching for packages. Last-mile is all about economies of scale. It is not uncommon to have 100 stops in a day, so even losing 30 seconds at each stop trying to find the right package adds up to nearly an hour over a shift.
No matter how often you drive, if you don’t drive to a certain city or part of town it is going to be more difficult for you to find your way around than somewhere you navigate frequently. The same is true for couriers completing deliveries. Our transportation and route management software provides navigation instructions to drivers as they complete their routes but we still do our best to keep drivers in the same areas so they get to know the neighborhood. This allows them to build confidence and a mental picture of exactly where they are going before they arrive, therefore spending less time trying to find addresses or parking. Another advantage of keeping drivers in the same areas is that it leverages a driver’s strengths. Some may be extremely quick in residential areas but may really struggle with apartment buildings or townhome complexes. The more you can leverage a driver’s geographic knowledge and strengths, the faster they will be.
Manifests and Materials
You need to make sure your staff have the tools they need to do their job before they are out on the road. We make sure that drivers have their device, charger, delivery manifest, flashlight, dolly, and any other equipment they may need before departing the facility. This practice prevents unnecessary return trips or on-road delays. One-stop to a high rise could have 10 deliveries. With a dolly, that driver will likely be able to take all their packages at once, but without one they will need to return to their van multiple times, adding to the time taken for each delivery.
Vehicle Maintenance and Safety
This one is a given but is highly underrated, making sure that our fleet is in safe working condition is essential to avoid issues on the road. Small things like oil changes, tire tread, and inflation checks, and washer fluid top-ups can go a long way in preventing massive time killers like engine troubles, flat tires, and simple on-road visibility that can lead to accidents. We use app-based pre and post inspections as well as scheduled preventative maintenance to mitigate vehicle issues early on and catch anything major before someone encounters them while out delivering. Accidents aside, a flat tire can cost a driver upwards of half an hour they may not be able to make up for, leading to unhappy customers and a stressed-out driver.
Having the correct information can be the difference between a delivery taking several minutes or taking an hour. Therefore, data integrity, especially the completeness and accuracy of addresses is vital to providing courier services. Buzzer and unit numbers, postal codes, street names, all need to be verified by our clients and our dispatch before packages even go out for delivery. We have added redundant steps in our routing process specifically to ensure that addresses are correct before they end up on a manifest. Any time a driver needs to stop and call a customer or dispatch to ask for instructions is wasted time. Special instructions such as access codes or safe drop locations can also help drivers make decisions as to what to do with a package faster, ultimately resulting in speedier delivery.
Concierges, building managers, and security can be extremely helpful to our drivers when they are struggling to reach a customer, so we try to make them a part of our team. If we frequently deliver to certain apartment buildings and have trouble gaining access, we might try to reach out to the building manager and ask for a key or building contact. Sometimes we’ll send drivers out with gift cards to build relationships with concierges who can help us gain entry to a building, provide freight elevator access, or even take the packages off our hands entirely to give to a customer. Any support we can get from onsite staff decreases the time spent trying to make a delivery that otherwise may have been unsuccessful.
The number one reason why a driver cannot deliver a package is that no one is there to receive it. Our drivers make the best efforts to coordinate with customers in the event they are not home to arrange redelivery later in the day, but that only ensures delivery success, not expediency. We do our best to coordinate scheduled shipping days within our client’s supply chain so their customers know when to expect their packages, increasingly the likelihood of recipients being available. Email and SMS notifications pushed to recipients also give them a heads up, so they are attentively awaiting their delivery. The more you can do to ensure a customer is at home to receive a package the less time a driver will spend making the delivery.
The role of a dispatcher isn’t just to support route planning and help drivers find addresses, it’s to pre-emptively remove barriers before drivers encounter them. Monitoring the weather, accident reports, festival plans, and construction projects are all factors that can slow a driver down while on road. Our dispatchers keep an eye out for these factors to plan and develop contingency plans. They communicate constantly with drivers to make the delivery process as smooth as possible.
No one knows delivery better than our drivers, so we keep an open line of communication with them to continually understand what works, what does not, and what could be better in how we execute our courier services. As I’ve made clear in previous points, every second spent at one-stop can become compounded across the total deliveries for that day, so it is important to hear from those who know best where the opportunities for improvement are for us to grow. For example, one driver mentioned that when swiping to confirm each step of a delivery in their app it would often lag, adding approximately 15 seconds to each stop. By removing a few of these steps, we compromised a small amount of dashboard visibility but gained that 15 seconds per stop, nearly 25 minutes per day per driver. Had we relied purely on our own insights we may not have identified that issue, so collaboration and an ongoing feedback loop are essential to the success of your fleet.
So there you have it, 10 ways we at ParcelPal help our drivers speed up delivery every day. Hopefully, courier services and logistics find these tips helpful and implement these tried and tested methods to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.