Route Optimization for Residential Pickup & Delivery (Conclusion)

Route Optimization for Residential Pickup & Delivery

CHICAGO — For those laundry owners willing to make the investment and travel beyond their store’s four walls, a residential pickup and delivery (PUD) service expands their reach, boosts turns per day and increases revenue, but its success relies heavily on the laundry’s ability to pick up, clean and deliver the goods in line with each customer’s expectations.

That’s where taking the best paths becomes paramount. Calculating an efficient, cost-effective route is more than finding the shortest path between points, and there are some keys to improving on-time delivery and customer satisfaction.

In Part 1, we met representatives from three laundry businesses that offer residential PUD and reviewed the factors that can influence routing choices. Let’s conclude:

Route selection is important but so is maintaining oversight of the activity and choices made while on the road.

In order to make sure that everything is completed and done on-time, we have someone dedicated to overseeing the process,” says Todd Ofsink, whose New York-based Todd Layne Cleaners & Laundromat offers WDF pickup and delivery service throughout Manhattan.

Matt Simmons—of Super Suds Laundromat and Wash & Fold in Long Beach, California, and the Curbside Laundries laundromat management software company—says one can tell if a driver is using an optimized route or not.

“Speaking generically, you need to make sure that you have a visualization (tool) such as a map inside the software and has all route numbers listed right on there,” says Simmons, who supports spot-checking, especially the work of newer drivers.

“The software should provide the owners enough reassurance that their employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing without having to micromanage them,” adds brother Aaron Simmons. “You can check in at a glance and not spend a lot of time overthinking what your drivers doing.”

“Oversight is totally a necessity!” exclaims Jan Barlow, whose Jan’s Professional Dry Cleaners in Clio, Michigan, includes an on-site laundromat. “You must have communication for all aspects of routes to work. This is one piece of the larger puzzle. You have to have all the elements in place or your business does not flourish.”

While shown a path designed for efficiency and expediency, drivers often need to be given some leeway to divert from the prescribed route when circumstances dictate.

It could be meeting a specified time for a certain customer, avoiding road construction, or following a special instruction such as entering a property from the rear rather than the front, Aaron Simmons says. A good laundry service needs trustworthy drivers who are able to think on the fly and make good decisions.

“There’s things where the driver needs to have the ability to override the software. And then it depends on the driver. Some drivers, you say, ‘Don’t deviate from what the software tells you,” because you can’t trust them doing more than that. Then there are other drivers who are experienced and able to make decisions based on what the software recommends, to make adjustments.”

“Our drivers and partners are always given leeway in route choices,” Ofsink says. “Manhattan is full of street closures, heavy traffic and other impediments that require quick thinking of our staff to find a better route.”

“Certainly, route drivers have some leeway to make decisions,” says Barlow. “But the flip side to that is if you do not continually monitor them with some additional tracking, they may make decisions that aren’t in the best interest of your business.”

Successful route optimization can come down to striking a balance between customer satisfaction and achieving some measure of cost savings.

“A combination, for sure,” Aaron Simmons says. “You want to make sure that the wear and tear on the vans, the fuel, the hours for the driver, stay within check. At the same time, if you don’t have the customers, (or) your customers aren’t happy, none of that matters. It’s a customer-centric business. Customers come first.”

“We keep things the same for customer satisfaction and predictability of the route,” Barlow says. “When we decide to optimize, it’s to find efficiency and cost savings.”

“We weigh how successful we are mainly based on customer satisfaction and return business,” says Ofsink. “Cost is secondary because our pricing strategy incorporates a partial cost reimbursement for most of the deliveries that we do.”

In many ways, the work of optimizing a laundry’s residential pickup and delivery routes is unending.

“You can plan for every conceivable option, but the work is never done to truly optimize a route,” Ofsink says. “We recently added a sustainability eco-friendly window option for customers to choose, mainly those that live in a doorman building. Because New Yorkers are always on the go, we still have to make last-minute changes to our routes.”

“It’s a daily maintenance routine,” Barlow says. “It could take 15 minutes to a couple hours. It all depends on the day, routes, weather, and your drivers.”

“This is a continuous thing,” Matt Simmons says. “This is something that people should always reevaluate. Am I meeting my customers’ needs and am I being efficient at the same time?”

CHICAGO — Allow drivers some leeway but verify that they stay on right track

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Inside our April issue: American Coin-Op April 2024 cover image
  • 2023-24 State of the Industry: More 'Cycling' Toward Greater Profits
  • Route Optimization for Residential Pickup & Delivery
  • Brax Laundry Builds on Game-Changing Experience
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