How Dispatch Management Can Help Your Business Soar In 2023

February 6, 2023
A delivery truck on a highway at night

Dispatch management is the process of sending people to specific locations to complete specific tasks. The task could be a delivery, a sales visit, or a field service call — whatever it is, it’s a dispatch manager’s job to make sure all the required people and tools get where they need to be, when they need to be there. 

For example, at Empire Office Furniture in Australia the team often handles large, complex orders that include fitouts for schools, government buildings and multi-floor listed company headquarters. Their IT manager Greg Barnett told us “it’s rare for our delivery drivers to simply drop off furniture at a customer’s doorstep. They have to actually go into the building.” Empire’s team used Routific to work out a dispatch management system that ensures staff have all the information they need, including estimates of travel time, time on site, schematics and building plans, the best door to gain access to the site, and customer instructions.

Five delivery trucks from the Empire Office Furniture fleet lined up outside their warehouse.
Empire Office Furniture manages a fleet of 12 vehicles.

It’s possible to do all this planning with a whiteboard, a large map and a spreadsheet. Some people use Google Maps to plan delivery and service routes. But both are really cumbersome and time-consuming ways to run a dispatch process. When Empire started landing larger contracts, their planner couldn’t keep up. It also became clear that relying so heavily on one person wasn’t sustainable for the business. With Routific, the team was able to streamline their workflow, improve their lead time by five days — and finally take vacations!

Jeremy Rohloff, the owner of Priority Appliances in Las Vegas, had a similar experience. With six repair technicians, the business gets dozens of service calls every week. Some work orders require multiple visits, once to assess the repair and another to finish it once parts have arrived. The challenge is to prioritize the most urgent calls, while matching the right technician to the right job. Rohloff’s team uses Routific to tag service calls with all the information needed to get the right people to the right job. 

The importance of dispatch management: trends to watch in 2023

These stories highlight some of the key trends that are emerging in field service management, dispatch management and delivery management:

Rising customer expectations and changes in consumer behaviour

The pandemic first caused a spike in demand for home deliveries, then a series of supply chain disruptions that led to widespread shortages and delays. These factors, combined with high inflation, have made consumers not only more price-conscious, but also more likely to shop around to get what they need, at a price they like. For example:

  • 40% of respondents in PWC’s 2022 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey said they were using more comparison sites, and many are switching back and forth between online and in-store channels. 
  • 50% expect to do more shopping online.
  • 41% will seek out retailers that provide efficient delivery or collection services.
  • 36% want to buy from local retailers and small businesses.

Separately, Statista reports ecommerce sales will grow to 24% of all retail sales worldwide by 2026.

As well as wanting the best deals and the most convenient delivery or pickup options, consumers also expect retailers and ecommerce providers to operate sustainably. A late 2022 survey found that 40-60% of consumers in the US and Europe expected online stores to offer carbon neutral deliveries, and 30-40% were willing to pay more for sustainable deliveries.

Pricing pressures and increased competition

As the rise in comparison shopping above suggests, businesses in 2023 are facing pressure from two sides. Customers and consumers want stable prices in the face of high inflation; and a flood of new market entrants, especially in the local food delivery space, has increased competition. Overall, the size of the global last mile delivery market is expected to grow to more than 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2027, from 108.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

Driver attrition and driver shortages

A woman in overalls loading boxes into a small delivery van
Delivery driver working conditions are a key factor in high turnover rates | Public domain image via Rawpixel

There’s lots of hype about autonomous vehicles, but right now they’re nowhere near ready for widespread use. Delivery drivers will be a critical part of the last-mile logistics landscape for a long while to come. Poor working conditions and low pay have forced a lot of drivers out of the industry, and retirements have only worsened the problem. The driver shortage and driver retention are by far the biggest problems identified in the US trucking industry.

Taken together, all these trends — customer expectations, price pressures and driver attrition — point to a more important role than ever for dispatch management. Efficient dispatch operations lower operating costs and increase profitability. Delivery operations that include predictable, fast delivery with accurate ETAs and automated, real-time notifications make for a better customer experience.  And finally, better route planning and route optimization can help to reduce driver hours on the road and improve their working conditions.

Why manual dispatch management doesn’t work in 2023

Experienced dispatch managers and delivery planners have amazing resources of skill and knowledge. Unfortunately, they’re in short supply – and as Empire Office Furniture discovered, even the most brilliant individual can’t keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for deliveries. And when it comes to the problem of how to optimize routes featuring dozens of stops and multiple vehicles, which involves juggling literally millions of options, no human can match the decision-making performance of a good routing algorithm.

Delivery and field service businesses are also at risk when they rely on manual routing processes. What happens when the person with all the knowledge needs to take a vacation, or gets sick, or gets a better offer from someone else? How does that person cope when demand doubles? Slow, inefficient processes inevitably lead to service breakdowns, late and missed deliveries and appointments, and unhappy customers – not to mention burned-out staff and drivers. 

The benefits of dispatch management software

When Peter Levitt merged two existing companies to create secure document destruction business IDS Autoshred, his biggest challenge was scheduling his fleet of trucks all over New Jersey. Drivers were doing their own routing and working a dangerous and unsustainable 12-14 hours per day.

Two trucks with IDS Autoshred branding parked in the company lot. 
Routific enabled IDS Autoshred to dramatically improve its fleet management and scheduling.

Levitt started doing his route planning and dispatch management using Routific, with dramatic results. Business increased, but both total and unit costs came down. Here are the calculations he shared with us, comparing a three-month period in the years before and after he took over the business:

Y1 Y2 Change
Service Calls 838 940 10.9%
Gas $11,563 $8,867 -30.4%

A 30% drop in gas costs while invoicing for 11% more in service calls is an impressive result by any standards!  

Drivers and customers benefited too. Even with more stops to make, IDS Autoshred’s drivers started spending less time on the road — which means they get home earlier, and overtime costs are lower. This was entirely thanks to route optimization. “By controlling the route, organizing our stops by town and using the software to avoid certain areas of town at certain times of day to avoid congestion, we’re making more stops in less time,” Levitt said. “Before, drivers would crisscross and overlap. Now we’re organizing it and avoiding overlap.”

Improved ETAs, with more accurate time windows, increased customer satisfaction as well. “It’s a major win-win for everyone,” Levitt said. "To me, Routific is the best way to maximize customer satisfaction, while minimizing cost.”

The IDS Autoshred case study is a great illustration of some of the major benefits of using dispatch management software:

1. Less time spent planning

With a good dispatch management or delivery scheduling solution, a small team or individual can schedule dozens of service or delivery routes in minutes.   

2. More efficient routing

Route optimization means the same number of field service workers or delivery drivers can complete more stops in less time.

3. Increased driver satisfaction

Shorter working days, with less time on the road, make for improved working conditions and much better safety. Mobile apps can also help to streamline the delivery process and service operations, making it easier for drivers and dispatchers alike to adapt to last-minute changes. With driver empowerment identified as a key trend for 2023, anything that improves life for drivers gives a competitive advantage.

4. Better customer satisfaction

More accurate ETAs and time windows, along with automated notifications, help customers plan their days without disruption. In the case of deliveries, customers also love faster delivery time and features like photo proof of delivery.

5. Lower costs

Less time on the road translates to lower fuel costs and less driver overtime. It also means less wear and tear on vehicles and lower fleet maintenance costs.

6. More sustainable operations

Route optimization is good for the planet as well as profitability! Less gas use translates to lower CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from burning fuel.

To sum up, in 2023 any business that’s making field service calls or deliveries should be using dispatch management software. At Routific, we think of it as being like putting on an Iron Man suit, adding all the benefits of automation and AI-powered route optimization to the dispatcher’s toolkit. It makes life easier, lowers costs, increases profitability, and lowers your carbon footprint into the bargain. What’s not to love? If you want to test the benefits for yourself, Routific is free to try for 7 days — no credit card needed!

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The easiest-to-use route optimization platform for growing delivery businesses.

Portrait of Pam Sykes
Pam Sykes
Pam Sykes has a PhD in History and a background in Journalism. She is the Lead Content Strategist at Routific with a focus on delivery management, delivery experience, route planning, and the last-mile industry in general. She has a passion to help delivery businesses scale with her craft of storytelling.

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