Choosing The Best Dispatch Software For SMBs In 2023
August 4, 2023
Working dispatch can be a high-speed, high-stress job — so dispatchers need software that can keep up. The right dispatch software solution can streamline business operations and make everything more efficient, from the back office to the open road.
In this guide, we’ll look at dispatch software options for two kinds of small- to medium-sized business: field service companies, and trucking & delivery companies. Dispatchers in these businesses have one main goal: send the right people, vehicles, and resources to the right place, at the right time. But the logistics of scheduling a delivery truck differ from those of planning a service call, so you may need different dispatch systems.
We’re focussing on small- to medium-sized businesses in this article because that’s what we know best. SMBs have unique software needs compared to enterprises. They often work with tight budgets and no dedicated IT teams, so they need dispatch systems that are affordable, user-friendly, and easy to integrate with other systems like Quickbooks. These systems also need to be scalable so they can grow with the business.
We’ll look at dispatch software for trucking, courier and delivery businesses first, then discuss field service management software. If you’re not convinced you need software in your dispatch operations at all, we’ve also added a section at the end about the benefits.
Dispatch software for trucker, couriers & delivery businesses
Truckers, couriers and delivery services are all about moving physical goods from place to place, often involving complex routing. Dispatchers often need to work with different vehicle types — for example, fresh food and beverage deliveries may need refrigerated trucks.
The essential features of delivery and trucking dispatch software include:
Route planning and optimization
Real-time GPS tracking
Proof of delivery
Integration with inventory or warehouse management systems
Here’s our pick of dispatch systems for last-mile delivery and transport companies:
Routific: Best for medium-sized local delivery businesses
Route optimization for last-mile delivery businesses and couriers is Routific’s main strength. The app is noted for being easy to use (reviews often mention our dispatch button and driver app), and for our customer support. The combined map and timeline view gives dispatchers an overview of all their routes, and the ability to edit routes when needed. Routes are updated in real time as drivers complete their stops, so it’s easy to track progress through the day. Customer notifications are sent automatically and can easily be customized.
Routific is best for small to medium-sized businesses who don’t deliver on-demand, and can plan their routes in advance.
We don’t offer barcode scanning, real-time chat inside our app or label printing, so if those are important to you, Routific might not suit your needs.
Pricing: Starts at $49 per vehicle per month, or $59 per vehicle per month for GPS tracking and proof of delivery features. Automated customer notifications via email or SMS are $19 per vehicle per month. Per-stop pricing is also available.
Onfleet: Best for larger delivery businesses and couriers
Onfleet calls itself a “complete toolkit for last mile delivery”. Its major strength is its auto-assign feature for on-demand deliveries, which enables fast turnaround times and customer self-service. Dispatchers and drivers also like the live chat option inside the driver app.
On the downside, Onfleet is much more difficult to use than other dispatch and scheduling software, and some users report it can be slow or buggy.
Overall it has a fuller feature set, including barcode scanning, than Routific or other rivals. That’s reflected in a much higher price, which might put it outside the budget of smaller companies.
Onfleet does offer a 14-day free trial, but you will need to give your phone number and credit card details.
Pricing: Starts at $500 per month with a limit of 2,000 pickup/delivery tasks. Barcode scanning, age verification and 5,000 pickup/delivery tasks start at $1,150 per month. Custom pricing is available for enterprise customers.
Route4Me: Best if you need maximum flexibility and don’t mind paying for it
Route4Me is one of the original route planning and route optimization tools, with a well-developed marketplace of optional add-on features. This makes it very flexible for different needs, but some of the add-ons are expensive.
For example, Route4Me charges extra for premium customer support, and for some route optimization features like driver breaks and recurring routes.
There are no proof of delivery features.
There is a 7-day free trial, with no need to give credit card details.
Pricing: Starts at $319 per month for route optimization, but that will only optimize single-driver routes. If you want to optimize multiple routes at once, the price is $479 per month. The costs can add up very quickly.
There are a bunch of transport management systems that come up in searches but that we haven’t reviewed in detail, for various reasons. They include:
Axon Trucking Software
This is fundamentally an accounting package specialized for trucking companies and fleet operations, rather than dispatch software. Its users do seem to rate it highly, but it lacks features like route optimization and proof of delivery.
ITS Dispatch from Truckstop
Truckstop is primarily a load board, an online marketplace where carriers, shippers and freight brokers can connect. Truckers can find loads to haul, and shippers can find drivers to haul their freight. The overall service is highly rated, but the actual dispatch software doesn’t operate independently from the load board. Its main purpose seems to be helping with back-office management and paperwork invoicing, settlements, payroll, and reporting. It’s also great for users in North America who need to handle IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) paperwork, but it’s not a dispatch management system.
ProTransport is another transportation management app that has some great features like a live dispatch board with real-time updates, but it lacks in other important areas. It has GPS tracking and two-way driver communication, but no route optimization, customer notifications, or proof of delivery.
Samsara is primarily fleet management and fleet security software. Its dispatch features are described as “very lacking”.
This app only has 3.6 stars on Capterra. With such a poor overall rating from existing users, this is probably not a TMS worth trying.
Field service dispatch software
Field service businesses, like HVAC, plumbing, or electrical service providers, typically need dispatch software that can manage and schedule a team of technicians in the field. The dispatcher’s job includes making sure that the right people, with the right skills and tools, arrive at the job site on time.
Essential features include:
Work order management
Mobile access for technicians
Housecall Pro: Best for home services
This is dispatch software that also does everything else a field service company needs, from estimates and job schedules to invoicing. They specialize in home services like plumbing, electrical, carpet cleaning, HVAC, housekeeping, handyman services, window cleaning, locksmiths, and more.
It has a very impressive user rating and rave reviews. It’s accessible either as a cloud-based web app or on a mobile device, and reviewers praise its ease of use for both field technicians and customers. They also like the customizable text notifications, which help to create a professional customer experience without the need for anybody to make a phone call.
On the downside, some users note that Housecall Pro lacks some advanced features. On the whole, however, it seems to be an excellent, affordable business management solution for home service companies.
OptimoRoute: Best for route planning and dispatch combined
OptimoRoute takes some time to learn, but it’s a powerful dispatch app with a lot of flexibility and control for you to set up your routes exactly as you wish.
You can set up individual driver profiles with their own shift schedules (including breaks and overtime), start/end locations, skills, vehicle types, service areas you want them to stay in, and even cost and speed settings. You can also set up multiple capacity constraints (e.g. weight & volume).
We couldn’t test as thoroughly as we would have liked, because Onfleet limits free trials to 250 stops. Given that limitation, the route optimization was fast — but there was lots of overlap between routes, and it was difficult to edit the routes.
Pricing: If you sign up for a full year, pricing starts at $35 per vehicle per month with a limit of 700 orders, or $44 per month for up to 1,000 orders, real-time tracking and proof of delivery. Custom pricing for more complex needs is also available.
With a good dispatch management solution, a small team or individual can schedule dozens of service or delivery routes in minutes.
More efficient routing
Route optimization means the same number of field service workers or delivery drivers can complete more stops in less time.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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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