As a small home delivery business, you may be looking at tools like Google Maps Route Planner or Mapquest Route Planner to organize your day-to-day deliveries. Both are great options, especially if you are making less than 20 deliveries per day. But, how do you get the most out of these tools?
In this article, we will be going through how to use Mapquest Route Planner and optimize your delivery schedule for small batches.
What is Mapquest Route Planner?
Mapquest Route Planner is a route optimization tool built by Mapquest. If you are already familiar with Mapquest, this is a great option for smaller groups of deliveries. In fact there are a ton of wonderful resources available to help you get started with here. But there are a few things to note before diving into Mapquest Route Planner.
- You can only plan routes for one driver at a time,
- There is a maximum of 26 destinations per route
- There is no option to optimize with common constraints such as delivery time window, driver breaks, load capacity, etc.
Even with those things in mind, many businesses choose Mapquest Route Planner to help plan and optimize their routes. Here’s how they do it.
How do I use Mapquest Route Planner?
Using Mapquest Route Planner is a great way to optimize routes and save time for small batches of deliveries. Here are the steps to follow:
Input your Addresses
When it comes to inputting your addresses, you have three options in Mapquest Route Planner:
- Line by Line
Line by Line
With Line by Line, you are given several fields to populate with individual addresses. As you begin typing, your addresses are cross-referenced with the Mapquest database to give you suggestions for pinpoint accuracy.
You start with two fields available. To add more stops, click on “Add another Stop”. You can repeat this process multiple times to a maximum of 26 stops.
With Copy/Paste, you are given a blank field with multiple lines available for you to paste addresses into. This option is ideal if you have kept the addresses in the form of a list.
When pasting, keep each stop on one line, to a maximum of 26 lines.
With Import, you are able to upload a list of multiple addresses in the form of a spreadsheet. You can either drag and drop the file right on to the box provided, or click on the “Browse” button to locate the file on your device.
Mapquest also provides templates for you to ensure your information is formatted correctly.
Once you’ve imported all of your addresses for the delivery, it’s time to customize your route with Route Options.
Set your Route Options
Mapquest Route Planner offers a few route options to customize how your route is optimized. These options include:
- Optimize for shortest distance or shortest time
- Allow Mapquest to re-order routes
- Making the route a round-trip or not
Optimizing for shortest distance or shortest time with Mapquest Route Planner
You have the option to choose to optimize your route by distance or time, depending on your business goals and strategy.
Allowing Mapquest Route Planner to Re-Order Stops
By selecting this option, you give Mapquest permission to further optimize your route by changing the order that your drivers would visit them. This means that the order you input the addresses in step one, can change.
Making the route a round-trip
This option automatically adds the first stop of your route to the end of your trip to ensure that the driver ends where they began. By selecting this option, it allows for the route to be optimized in its entirety, with the trip back, included.
Once you’ve finished with the Route Options, it’s time to look at your Route Settings.
Your Route Settings are important bits of information that will be factored into Mapquest’s route optimization. They are basic constraints that you would find in most mapping and GPS software, like the ability to avoid toll roads, highways, or ferries, for example.
Dispatch your route to your driver
Once you’ve set up your route, all that is left to do is to share the route with your driver. Mapquest Route Planner offers a few options for that:
- Share the route on Facebook or Twitter
- Send to a mobile number
- Send to an email address
- Copy and paste a unique ink
How do I build multiple routes with Mapquest Route Planner?
Over time, your business will grow (yay!) -- and that means you’ll have to incorporate multiple drivers and routes. Since Mapquest Route Planner only allows you to optimize one route at a time, you’ll have to do a bit of a workaround to make it work. We outlined a similar process for Google Maps Route Planner.
- Create Driver Territories: These are designated geographical areas or neighbourhoods that drivers will be responsible for delivering to. The easiest way to do this is to divide your catchment area into four sections: North, South, East, and West. By giving your drivers the same territories each time, they’ll build up their knowledge of the area. This will help both of you to map out the most efficient routes as you become more familiar with the area.
- Build a stop list for a specific territory: Each of these lists will be kept in a separate file, and uploaded to Mapquest Route Planner individually. It’s important to keep track of which addresses belong to which area, to avoid confusion or duplication.
- Give your drivers delivery instructions: To make your routes more efficient, compile notes for your drivers about where to park, drop off the delivery, delivery times, ETAs, etc. This will speed up your driver’s routes meaning you either pay less wages or can fit more stops into a single route.
- Build routes in batches of 26: Since Mapquest allows you to include more stops per route, you will be able to fit in quite a bit into each driver’s route. Build them in batches of 26 for each area.
- Dispatch routes to drivers: Mapquest gives you the option to send a route via email or SMS.
- Repeat steps 2-5: Since you can only route 26 stops at a time, you’ll need to repeat steps 2-5 a few times until you’ve planned all your stops in an order that makes sense.
Should I use Mapquest or Google for planning home deliveries?
Both Mapquest and Google provide great route planning tools for your home delivery business. They are both user-friendly and offer some of the basic functionality to help you get from Point A to B, and beyond. Here are some of the main differences between the two platforms.
Mapquest Route Planner offers a bit more in terms of route optimization, which can help to save time and money. Mapquest also offers more capacity for stops within a single route. If your business is typically making more than 10 stops in a given route, and you are not too particular about manually editing a route, then Mapquest Route Planner might be the best choice for you.
Route Planning can be complex
As a small home delivery business, it is safe to say that you are probably obsessed with efficiency. The smallest tweaks can make a huge difference, and that’s why having an optimized route is so important.
Business constraints for delivery business come in many forms, but the most common include:
- Delivery time window
- Driver breaks
- Vehicle load capacity
Including one or all of these constraints complicates the routing solution several times over. In fact, one delivery van with 50 stops can have quattuorovigintillion (that’s a 1 with 75 zeros behind it!) different possible solutions. Just imagine what that looks like once you start adding more drivers, more stops, and all of the other constraints and complications that come up daily for delivery businesses.
It gets complicated. Fast.
For these cases, you might need something a bit more robust than Mapquest Route Planner. That’s when people turn to Routific’s delivery route planning software. It offers an intuitive look and feel with a functionality catered specifically to delivery businesses.