You will find your customers always on the edge of the seat waiting for their thousands of dollars worth of fuel to arrive, only to find out it’s the wrong product or it was never delivered – a situation both costly and infuriating.
And this leads us to the fact that the fuel distribution industry is not so much about the product as it is about the service level you offer. This is especially true when industry trends like supply chain constraints and evolving customer expectations are making the market even more competitive. And navigating this situation depends a lot on delivery reliability, accuracy and transparency. That’s where solid dispatch planning and scheduling is required.
However, relying on paper-driven processes or even outdated legacy systems leaves room for errors in dispatching.
Think about it:
- How many times have you missed deliveries because all orders coming from sales, repeat customers etc were spread across sheets?
- How many times have drivers missed stops or delivered the wrong product because they didn’t have accurate information?
Now, think about the impact of these on your distribution costs and bottom line and even lost customers, every time it happens.
The fix here is – efficient dispatching. It’s the key to ensure all deliveries are completed timely and accurately, keep-fill contracts fulfilled, customer tanks fuelled at all times, and customers satisfied.
The core of efficient dispatching is streamlining processes. So let’s get into it!
Streamlining Order Management
You might feel like you already have a system/processes in place to manage your orders. You sure do, and we can bet it makes up a big part of your ‘busy work’.
Phone calls, hand-written orders, papertickets, hundreds of spreadsheets, and broken systems can only get you so far. Drivers are often left puzzled in the field. Dispatchers struggle to pull out order related information that’s spread across paper and emails and spreadsheets. Routing every order by hand makes you more prone to missing delivery windows.
Keeping a track of orders of repeat customers becomes a challenge. Manual tank monitoring leads to missed contracts.
But…a streamlined system to create, schedule, and dispatch orders can be a gamechanger here ensuring timely deliveries and no missed orders.
One part of this is getting all your orders (sales, recurring, tank monitors, transfer, directly placed from customers) in one place that makes it easier for you to track all your orders. So no blackholes there.
Next is scheduling and dispatching these orders in a way where you can smartly plan out drivers stops and routes to ensure they’re able to complete their deliveries every day. Route optimization is the key here.
For your repeat customers, automating the order creation process ensures that you don’t miss out on any recurring orders. You can set up custom schedules to auto-create and assign orders to drivers.
As for your keep-fill contracts, tank monitoring enables you to monitor customer tank levels 24*7 and auto-create orders once tanks reach a certain level.That way you can make sure customer tanks are fuelled at all times without any manual efforts.
Digitizing Driver Workflows
Drivers already have a lot of things going on in the field. There’s a ton of tasks they need to do to get through their shifts.
If they aren’t equipped with the right information or are too bogged down by all the paperwork and manual efforts – inaccurate or delayed or missed deliveries are bound to happen.
But digitized workflows solve for that.
With drivers having access to all the information they need to complete their deliveries and their tasks like recording delivery numbers, checking inventory on truck, pulling out customer information are all streamlined and digitized – drivers know which orders they have to deliver, when they have to deliver it and to whom, which product goes to which tank – leaving no scope for errors.
Ensuring Real-time Tracking and Monitoring
Apart from relying on digitized processes to dispatch orders you should know what’s happening in your operations at any given time. Without real-time tracking and monitoring, you’re essentially operating in the dark and relying on guesswork to ensure deliveries are completed.
And with real-time tracking and monitoring – you can keep a track of whether your orders are delivered or not.
Pinpointing driver locations on the map and viewing their schedule helps you know if drivers are following the routes or going in a different direction or are on schedule to deliver the orders, track down missed deliveries/stops and re-assign orders to another driver if need be.
Drivers are able to record important notes (like failed deliveries, maybe because the customer asset/equipment was locked or drivers couldn’t locate tanks) which dispatchers can view in real-time. That ensures that dispatchers can keep customers informed and avoid losing customer trust.
Moreover, getting proof of delivery like customer signature minimizes false claims of missed or incorrect deliveries.
Basically, the whole goal of efficient dispatch is: The right product delivered to the right customer at the right time, at all times. Have that in place and you can stop worrying about losing millions of dollars or another customer over imperfect logistics.