This piece was originally published in Retail TouchPoints.
For a retail business running its own in-house fleet, the right tools can make a huge impact on efficiency, margins and customer experience.
I’ve talked with thousands of fleets during my four years in this space, as co-founder of Onfleet, and in those conversations some common themes have emerged. The most successful delivery operations all seem to use these three essential tech tools.
1. Recruitment Platforms
Let’s start at the top, with driver recruitment. With unemployment rates low throughout the U.S. and turnover generally high among drivers, it can be tough to fill these positions and keep them filled. Craigslist ads don’t always cut it, and they force your recruiters to wade through a lot of junk in order to find and screen the best candidates. One fleet we spoke with described recruiting drivers as a hamster wheel they are continually stuck in.
That’s why a lot of fleets are turning to gig economy recruitment platforms like Wonolo or BlueCrew that find and prescreen candidates for you. They take the majority of recruiting duties off your plate, so you can concentrate on other things. Their fees are well worth it when you consider it can take several hours to recruit just one driver. Many fleet managers are also using tools like Fountain to manage the hiring funnel effectively.
2. Background Check Software
For many businesses, the delivery is the only in-person interaction they have with a customer — making a good delivery experience essential. That’s why background checks (including driving record and criminal background checks) are a must for all drivers.
But how to go about background checks compliantly? No need to study up on employment law — this is easy to outsource to a third party. These companies have all the tools required to do a thorough and compliant background check, quickly, to help ensure that these frontline staffers will be good ambassadors for your company. Checkr is one example of a background checking platform that has gained significant traction in the gig economy.
3. Fleet Management Software
This may be the most important piece. I’ve met with many fleets that are handling fleet management manually, using spreadsheets to plan out delivery schedules and Google Maps (or worse, gut feel) to plan routes. Both of these are extremely inefficient, and fleets that take this manual approach inevitably have drivers who are either overloaded or have too much free time. Fleet management software will help you with route planning, dispatch, communications and analytics.
We recently worked with a supermarket chain that had moved from spreadsheets and Google Maps to fleet management software. The e-Commerce manager told us that the company was able to increase delivery capacity by 50% without adding any additional drivers or vehicles, due to more efficient planning brought about by the software.
Some fleet management software, like Onfleet, can also help with customer communication, providing customers with timely and accurate information on exactly when their delivery will arrive — not a two- or four-hour window, but an accurate real-time ETA.
All of these tools are either web-based or SaaS, so they don’t require a ton of technical knowledge. The time savings they’ll provide — many hours a week — will help business owners and managers spend more time on customers and less time managing delivery operations.