Columbus Distributing Transforms Operations with Routing and Distribution Software
Webinar: Wise Systems + Columbus Distributing
We sat down with Columbus Distributing to talk about how Wise Systems has impacted their operations. Check out some Q/As from the interview (edited for brevity and clarity).
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about how your team was communicating and staying up to date on routes prior to Wise Systems?
Answer: Yeah, so we had a really archaic style of communication here. We relied really heavily on phone calls and emails from sales reps and/or accounts to the front desk. So what we ended up doing was taking the opportunity with this system to give us that visibility. It really gave us an opportunity to focus on other issues that we needed to take care of.
Question: Who do you think that visibility was impacting the most in your organization?
Answer: I would definitely say the sales side. They’re the ones taking the phone calls from the account. To be able to answer that question and get back to that account within minutes – where it used to be maybe 10, 15, 20 minutes before we finally got a hold of the driver. It really just freed up that open line of communication. It’s really helped our service levels.
Question: Let’s take it a step further. Your team recently started using our Mobile Manager (previously Updates) app, which gives the sales team and the merchandising team access to driver locations and ETAs. What are they doing with that information? How has that changed their workflow?
Answer: I’ll tell you what, that’s a really good question. We’ve reduced our overtime budget by about 33% since we started using this app for merchandisers. In the past, the merchandiser called the driver. If the driver was busy or, you know, delivering, they really didn’t get a chance to get a hold of him. So there’d be a 10 to 15 minute delay. So the merchandiser would go to another account and service them, or really just hope and pray that they’re going to be at an account that had already been delivered. Now, they can open the app up on their phone to see exactly where a delivery is at and know exactly when it was delivered. They know exactly where the next one is going to be, and how long that’s going to take. And I think it just makes everybody feel much more comfortable. And like I said, reducing overtime and gaining efficiencies there just really helps out.
Question: Can you start by describing to us what an off-day is, and how it works in your company?
Answer: An off-day is any stop that needs to be serviced on a day that’s not set up as a regular delivery day. It’s a big efficiency killer in our world. About 40% of our deliveries were off-day deliveries. And since we have been using Wise Systems, we’re down to about 1% off-days per day. It’s really giving us that visibility to say, “Right, just because our driver is near this account, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can service the account when he has other accounts he needs to service.” Capturing that true data [i.g. service-time levels] has allowed us to make smarter and better decisions on how we need to A: service the account, and B: determine what level of service we want to provide to them in terms of once a week, twice a week, maybe three times a week.
Question: When you implemented Wise Systems, did change management go smoothly?
Answer: You know, when you’re dealing with a third-party vendor, or someone that’s trying to pitch you their software, you really don’t know where it’s going to go, or what kind of service level you’re going to get. Wise Systems has a very calculated approach on how they want to get their product to the company. I think we were blown away by the multiple meetings that we had. They were very detail-oriented and organized. That led us to know that we made a good decision.
Question: How has having this routing and dispatch software impacted the drivers’ experience?
Answer: You know, we were a little leery about that. When you use the word GPS, it gets everybody a little on edge. However, around the second week after the full rollout, I had drivers coming back to me basically saying that their goal is to beat the plan-versus-actual time and they’re very proud when they end up being successful in that. The Driver app literally takes them from stop, stop. And it’s really helped us avoid a lot of handwritten notes or calling a guy that’s off. Especially when we get in a pinch – when somebody calls off because they’re sick, and we’re trying to figure out how to best align that route so that we can give the driver that’s filling in the best chance to provide the customer service level we expect.
Question: It sounds like your drivers are using the driver-notes as well within the Driver app. So all of that information is being stored in a central place as opposed to just living in people’s heads.
Answer: Yeah, you know, it’s funny. We have ten three-ring binders that have all of the account information, different service level times, and everything else in there. It was a sad day when I had to throw them away.
There’s more to discover from Columbus Distributing. Watch the webinar, then reach out for a demo of the Wise Systems delivery automation platform.