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How to Choose the Best Route Planner

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If your business doesn’t use a route planner, it’s time to start. 

A map route planner will reduce your operating expenses by thousands and make your drivers more efficient. 

Every minute you don’t use it is a minute when you’re making less money than you could be.

So, the decision to adopt route optimization software is an easy one. What’s not so easy is deciding which route planner app in particular, you’ll invest in for your business.

There are many different route planners on the market. Choose the wrong one, and you’ll have just flushed a sizable investment down the drain.

In order to ensure that you pick a delivery route planner that really works for you, consider the following eighteen points before you buy anything:

Is The Route Planning Software Easy To Use?

Employees tend to resist change. From their perspective, they already have things figured out now, and getting used to some new routine is going to require extra effort on their part. So it’s only natural that they’re going to push back on new software.

Software that’s difficult to use will make this problem much worse. You don’t want to give your drivers a legit reason to complain about change, which is why user-friendliness should be one of the most important factors in your decision-making process here.

Do You Need to Sign a Long-term Contract?

This is a key question you must ask every route optimization software provider.

If you sign a long-term contract with them and you’re unhappy with them, good luck getting out of your agreement. A good example of such a long-term contract is an annual plan.

So, even if you find them inefficient, you still have to continue using their service.

Look for services that come with a quarterly or monthly contract. This way, you can leave or extend the service as per your needs and not as per the provider’s demand.

Do They Offer A Free Trial and Free Setup?

Moving your entire route planning process to new software is risky if not done properly.

Your team may commit mistakes in operating the software. And this can affect the entire route planning process.

More importantly, you might send your drivers on a wild goose chase…

So, look for a route optimization software that offers a free trial. 

Also, the provider should help you set up the software for free. No amount of review reading will beat experiencing the software for yourself.

Are All Features of the Route Planner Available In The Trial Period?

You need to make sure the road trip planner with multiple stops does everything you need it to do before you buy it.

Sometimes, a software provider will allow you to try some features, but then say other features are only available after you’ve committed to paying full price.

This is unacceptable. If you can’t try a feature out, how will you know whether you have an issue with it or not? 

If a software provider tries to pull this move on you, just move on to your next option.

What Kind Of Support Do They Offer During The Software Trial?

A trial period gives you a chance to test out a company’s product, and it also gives you a chance to test out their support.

Technical errors can delay your drivers, which will really piss off your customers. So you’ll want any issue you have to be addressed as quickly as possible. 

If you need to wait a long time to get a single query resolved, that’s not a good sign.

Also, multiple contact options should be available to you (phone, email, online chat, etc.). There can never be too many ways to reach someone in a time of need.

Want To See For Yourself How Route4Me Can Boost Your Profits?

Whether you want to slash the time it takes you to plan routes for your drivers, increase the number of stops they can make, or keep your customers satisfied knowing that your drivers show up on time… Route4Me helps you achieve that!

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Where is Their Support Staff Located?

You may come up with queries or challenges while using the software. Nothing is error-free… even long-standing software.

So, you need access to the great support staff that should be available at your service whenever you need them. 

This is to ensure that your business does not have costly downtime because of a technical problem.

But, if the support team is located in a non-native English-speaking country, things can go worse.

It is possible you will find it difficult to understand their language. They may not be able to understand your problem properly either… because of the difference in accent and language… often leaving you with no way to solve your problem.

So, go for a routing software provider that has a native English-speaking support team. A bonus if they are open 24/7.

Are the Tutorials Easy to Access and Understand?

As mentioned above, the software you end up buying should be as easy to use as possible.

Part of making software easy to use is having clear instructions built into the software. 

Ideally, there’ll be buttons located right next to complicated features that you can press to display detailed tutorials. Look out for that.

Do They Provide Training During The Trial Period?

Unfortunately, with most software products you won’t have access to any training during the trial period. If you face any issues, well, you’re kind of on your own. Only paying customers get personal support.

But not every company operates like this. 

Route4Me, for example, offers full training during the trial period. This way, you can get the most out of your trial period and really figure out every single feature before you commit to anything. We’re proud of our product, so why would we hide it?

How Long Have They Been in the Business?

Do you agree that buying any product from a brand new company is risky?

This holds true for your route scheduling software as well.

The algorithm behind route planning is complex and needs years of experience and experimenting to get your routes fully optimized.

You cannot expect this from a company that’s been around for less than a few years. A new company may not be able to ensure a perfect algorithm because of a lack of expertise. 

That means they might experiment on you… to improve their product without your knowledge.

Can you afford their experiments at your expense?

Of course, not…. right?

So, look out for providers that have at least 2-3 years of experience in the route planning business. 

Moreover, they must have already planned thousands of routes specific to your industry.

Do You Need to Pay Any Other Fees Later On, Apart From the Subscription?

You may think that the subscription fee is the only amount you need to pay to use the multi-stop route planner.

But, later on, you may find that you need to pay more expenses that were never disclosed to you. 

For example, you may need to pay an extra amount per driver or vehicle or even per stop.

So, you should ask about hidden expenses at the beginning. 

Here are 10 things to ask a route optimization software provider regarding hidden costs.

Can the Route Planner Remove Routes Automatically?

Your business will grow over the years, and so you need a dynamic route planner. A route planner app that can learn and evolve with your business needs.

It should be able to remove unnecessary routes or the number of drivers you need on its own.

… And this is only possible when it has the ability to analyze the data collected from YOUR business… not just averages or compiled data.

So, ask your provider if their route optimization software can act as an automatic route eliminator as well.

Do You Need to Buy New Hardware?

Many legacy software providers still require you to purchase hardware for your vehicles. 

If you do some research on how technology is advancing… you’ll see that mobile phone, laptops, and tablets is the direction everything is moving towards.

Thus, refrain from buying planning and routing software that needs you to buy hardware… like WiFi-connected GPS devices.

Go for a delivery route planner app that is cloud-based, and is accessible from anywhere and at any time. All you need is a smartphone.

In this way, you do not need to install any application or even purchase hardware equipment.

We are living in an era where everything from Google Drive to Facebook is on the cloud. So, why would you stay behind?

Here are 7 reasons you should adopt SaaS route planning software.

How Long is the Learning Curve?

What is the main purpose behind your decision to go for routing optimization software? To save time and money, right?

If the software needs significant time to learn how to use, that will mean more training time… and more productivity lost.

After all, you are buying the delivery software to grow your business and not to damage it…

So make sure the software is easy to use, both for you and your employees.

Look for specific onboarding processes and a dedicated training team from the provider. This will make your transition smooth and easy.

Does the Route Planner Come with Real-Time Tracking and Projected ETA?

How can you make your customers happy? By offering quality services on time… right?

Telling your customers that your driver will show up at 2 pm… and actually being there on time will do wonders for your customer services.

… And, you can only do this when you have real-time information about a driver’s location on the road.

This is only possible if you can track a driver or a vehicle in real-time. That way, you’ll have an idea of whether a driver is falling behind on the schedule.

You’ll also know whether a driver will miss an important delivery time window. This will help you inform the customer of any delays ahead of time. 

Moreover, you can still keep your customers happy by providing an accurate ETA.

So, ensure that the fleet route planning software you choose has a real-time tracking feature to predict the ETA. 

Also, if it offers a real-time dynamic ETA feature, it would just be a cherry on top.

A real-time tracking feature can also benefit you in the following ways:

So, can you leave these points out of your checklist?

Can You Add Time Window Constraints?

Let’s say that your customer wants a delivery by 2 pm on Tuesday two weeks from now.

Will you give your customer a vague figure, like delivery between 10 am and 5 pm.? Or, will you guarantee delivery at exactly 2 pm?

Very difficult to do with pen and paper route planning.

So, do you think a route planner can help you with this?

Well… the answer could be both yes and no.

An ideal multiple stops route planner stops should have an “add constraint” feature. This will help you add specific time windows which it factors in while optimizing a route.

In this way, you can guarantee a delivery time and impress your customers.

But if the fleet route planning software doesn’t have such a feature, you cannot guarantee delivery. 

You will be back in the same situation while paying more. Can you afford that?

So, look for routing software that allows you to add more constraints, such as:

  • Specific delivery time windows,
  • Vehicle hauling capacities,
  • Distance constraints,
  • Driver constraints, and
  • Weight constraints.

That way, you don’t need to worry about specific job details as all will be taken care of by the route planner. 

You can then still maintain a profit margin despite rising customer demands.

Can You Plan Unlimited Routes?

Would you like to limit your business growth?

Of course not… right?

Yet, that can happen if you are restricted to planning only a certain maximum number of routes.

When your business grows and covers a larger area… you will need more drivers.

Therefore, you need a map route planner that doesn’t set any limitations.

Nor should it use “legacy software” tactics and charge you per driver

Here is a dirty little secret from the route planning software industry… unless you have thousands of drivers, you’re not taking up much more computing power than if you had only 2-3 drivers.

It should help you plan and/or set:

  • Unlimited routes,
  • Unlimited optimizations,
  • Unlimited stops per routes,
  • Unlimited addresses to store your entire client address book in one location,
  • Unlimited planning horizon to optimize long, multi-day routes,
  • Unlimited saved routes to plan as many fixed routes as you want,
  • Unlimited notes and uploads for images, videos, and notes you need for each client, and
  • Unlimited custom data to add.

After all, if the sky is the limit for your business, then why should your route planning process be limited?

Does It Offer Seamless Synchronization Across All Devices?

Best of all, with route planning software, you can plan and distribute routes from your smartphone and laptop computer. Your drivers can even access all route details on their smartphones as well.

This nullifies the high expenses associated with:

  • Buying expensive GPS hardware,
  • Updating GPS devices manually, and
  • Doing maintenance.

Because the key to successful route planning lies in how fast you can plan and share your routes. This is especially true when you need to make sudden changes or add a note to a route.

Would it make sense if you make a change at 12 pm and your driver only knows about it at 4 pm?

So, you should choose a route planner that offers smooth synchronization. 

It should distribute changes made on your local computer to the drivers’ smartphones instantly.

But, choose one that supports all mobile devices and OS. It should thus support iPads, iPhones, and Android phones.

Bonus Question: Can You Edit Routes during the Middle of the Day?

There could be instances when a customer lets you know that they will not be available as scheduled. 

If you have an urgent pickup request that came up during the middle of the day, what would you do?

If your route planner does not allow you to edit and update your routes in real-time, you will have no way to inform the drivers without putting every other stop they need to make in jeopardy. 

You will lose the flexibility to reroute them to another customer as a replacement.

As a result, you will end up spending unnecessary time and money with zero results. Now, this may annoy your drivers.

So, make sure you ask about this feature. It may help you plan and automate same-day delivery or last-minute pickup.

Final Words about Choosing the Best Route Planner

There you have it. 17 (+1) questions that are important for your future growth. 

If you really want to dive deeper, you could ask your route planner provider more questions such as:

  • If it is possible to add multiple constraints to the system, such as distance, time, and weight.
  • If it gives you the ability to visualize customers on an interactive map.
  • If it allows you to plan and avoid driving before sunrise and after sunset.
  • If it lets you import data from other programs such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
  • If the route planner comes with an interactive team management feature to help you manage unforeseen problems. If such problems arise with one driver, you can schedule another to manage their deliveries.

Long story short, simply opting for a multi-stop route planner won’t change a lot in your route planning. Instead, you need one that offers dynamic routing.

You should be able to plan, share, and amend routes as and when you need them. 

And irrespective of the route planner you choose, make sure to weigh its features and benefits based on your needs.

Want To See For Yourself How Route4Me Can Boost Your Profits?

Whether you want to slash the time it takes you to plan routes for your drivers, increase the number of stops they can make, or keep your customers satisfied knowing that your drivers show up on time… Route4Me helps you achieve that!

Start Free 7 Day Trial

About Route4Me

Route4Me has over 32,000 customers on almost every continent. Route4Me's mobile Android and iPhone apps have been downloaded over 2 million times since 2009. Extremely easy-to-use, the apps synchronize routes, enable two-way communication with drivers, offer turn-by-turn directions, delivery confirmation, and more. Behind the scenes, Route4Me's operational optimization platform combines high-performance algorithms with data science, machine learning, and big data to plan, optimize, and analyze routes of almost any size in real-time.

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