Route Planning Vs. Optimization: 4 Ways to Identify The Right Strategy to Maximize Efficiency

Delivery and dispatch logistics can be a pain to deal with, especially in retail and the field service industry. And you know how much your business will benefit once you figure out how to optimize and make it efficient.

Logistics in field service business

You know that you need to ensure you can accomplish three crucial things:

  • First, deliver the goods and services to each customer as soon as possible.
  • Second, finish more job orders every single day.
  • Third, reduce overhead costs such as filling up your fleet of vehicles with gas, which typically make up around 59.8% of your operational costs per mile. (1)

Achieving all three equates to efficiency, fewer expenses, and more profit. That’s the reason most companies need to choose between route planning and optimization as early as now. If you’re also one of them, then this post will help you identify which strategy or process will work best for you.

1. Does your business have customers who have specific demands?

Route planning is a process that sequences destinations and creates the shortest travel distance possible. At a glance, it seems that this is an effective way to route optimization. However, there’s a critical difference between this and actual route optimization. Unlike route planning, route optimization considers other factors, one of which is specific customer needs. (2)

For example, one customer on route wants to receive their package or accommodate your service crew/dispatch technician within a specific timeframe. In route planning, that is ignored.

Route optimization will take this into account and ensure that the delivery will be made to that customer in the timeframe indicated and make sure that the total delivery time of the day will still be short and efficient.

2. Can you spend on business software?

The only reason why route optimization isn’t widespread now is that only big companies had access to this technology before. Aside from being expensive tech, huge enterprises and corporations were the only ones who had the resources to develop software like this.

However, now, route optimization comes with most business scheduling and management platforms offered by solutions vendors. For example, landscapers can now optimize their job routes by getting Jobber’s business software for landscapers.

3. Are the roads you go through everyday unpredictable?

Route planning is the predecessor of route optimization. Route planning’s primary goal is to optimize a driver or crew’s route to shorten the amount of time they’ll be on the road and increase the number of customers they can reach.

Route optimization, on the other hand, also considers the following factors:

  • Vehicle load (volume and weight)
  • Driver and crew schedule
  • Traffic direction and congestion
  • Accidents and roadblocks

(3)

Those factors change as time goes by, so the route that the optimization software may recommend may change after every stop made by your crew. And even if they drive a greater distance, you can rest assured that it’s still the most optimal and efficient route. After all, a planned route can’t take into account all the potential hurdles your crew might face on the road.

Customer locations

4. Do you have a lot of customers?

You’ll only use route planning when you don’t have software for route optimization yet. Unlike route optimization, you can perform route planning yourself by using free mapping apps on the web and smart devices.

However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do route optimization without software as well. You can, but the only problem is that it takes a lot of time. Compared to humans, computers are much better and faster when it comes to tedious tasks like that. And if you have a lot of clients to visit, you’ll be limited to perform route planning alone to ensure you can provide your service as soon as possible.

Of course, you can also hire a person to do it for the whole team. However, it would be a much more practical choice to get business software to do it for you.

Aside from connecting appointments and invoices and route optimization, most business software you can get on the market can include additional features like quoting, cash flow, and schedule management. Not to mention that it can be more cost effective than hiring a new employee.

Conclusion

Businesses, especially in the retail and field services sector, need route optimization technology. Route optimization is much better than route planning. That may have sounded not very objective, but it’s a fact as route optimization is a beefed-up version of route planning, and it’s a practically better choice.

References:

  1. “The Ultimate Guide to Route Optimization in 2021,” Source: https://optimoroute.com/what-is-route-optimization/
  2. “Route Planning vs. Route Optimization: What’s the Difference?” Source: https://insights.workwave.com/industry/logistics-distribution/route-planning-vs-route-optimization-whats-the-difference/
  3. “Route Optimization: What It Is & How to Succeed in 2021,” Source: https://onfleet.com/blog/route-optimization
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