As you may know the ELD (electronic logging device) mandate release was pushed back a month and will now come at the end of October.
This gives everyone another 30 days to complain about the high cost of implementing the technology to their fleet.
Technology Improvements to GPS Tracking
ELD systems have come down in price as technology has improved. More than the innovation though, is the low cost of data. Every major cell phone provider has lowered data rates this year, and the cost to transfer data continues to fall (even as file sizes become more efficient and compact).
One company that’s leveraging technology improvements to streamline their logistics operation, offering real time shipment tracking and automated customer notifications, is… Pizza Hut.
The company rolled out a delivery tracking software earlier this year (it may still be in testing).
And it’s not just the big national pizza conglomerates, here in Minneapolis Pizza Luce has the same technology (and great pizza). And Uptown Heating & Cooling has a similar technology for their technicians.
When I had my boiler system serviced last month (because winter planning starts in September, in Minneapolis) the technician used GPS on a tablet to find me and had me sign for the service on it when he was done.
GPS Tracking isn’t Just for Big Trucking Operations Anymore
The Pizza Hut example is a good one, because they are delivering a product that still costs the same as it did when Macauly Culkin ordered “a whole cheese pizza” for himself in 1990. Even as the Consumer Price Index has doubled in the past 25 years (some of that lack of price variance might be related to quality of inputs, but that’s not the topic here).
The reality is Pizza Hut can modernize the delivery of a $12 item to the point that customer expectations are set electronically and automatically.
Why Customer Expectations is Important at Delivery
The two most important points of any relationship are the beginning and the ending (for more on that, read Nudge and/or The Paradox of Choice). When a customer is waiting for your truck to show up, the uncertainty leads to either frustration or unnecessary communication with your office.
When a customer calls or emails, they interrupt your dispatcher or sales rep’s workflow. Then they’ll probably have to follow up with your driver… then call the customer back. Those calls take time and cost money.
All of this is time that could be better spent, and really not ideal for your customer either… because they just want to know when the truck will be there.
Here’s How Pizza Hut Sets Customer Expectations
First your customer gets a notification that their order is received and a window or estimated delivery time is provided.
When the driver finishes up their previous delivery, they click a button on their phone or tablet to initiate the next stop in the route. This automatically sends a notification to all interested parties.
Your dispatcher, the customer, and anyone else at your company that needs to know where a driver might be is updated (either by email or if they run their own system query).
Think of how much time is wasted every day trying to figure out where a driver is in their route… or how upset your customers get when you give them inaccurate information or tell them “I don’t know”.
A simple GPS update system lets the customer know approximately where the delivery vehicle is and gives one more opportunity to verify the delivery address (because everyone is looking at the same information).
When the driver gets there, the customer can accept delivery by signing their tablet or phone (the guy in the Pizza Hut demo video has the same signature as I use at the grocery store).
Then, if you’re interested in customer feedback, the customer can be notified one more time after delivery is complete and asked to rate your service level.
What does Pizza Delivery have to do With the ELD Mandate?
This cheap and simple GPS tracking software is very similar to some of the newer e-log/electronic logging device (ELD) and electronic on-board regulator (EOBR) systems that have been coming out in recent years.
When you set up your fleet to be compliant with the ELD mandate, you can set up your delivery vehicles with the same capabilities as Pizza Hut’s delivery drivers.
Think of the money you’ll save knowing where your equipment is at all times. Fewer phone calls will reduce inefficiency within your operation and that savings will show up in your bottom line. You’ll also have a much better customer experience, because they’re in the loop the whole time.
If you need help setting up an ELD or GPS system for your fleet, Railbox Consulting is always happy to help.
Mike Norton is the President of Railbox Consulting, a multi-service logistics consulting firm specializing in small/mid-size intermodal operations and portable storage companies. Learn more at https://railboxconsulting.com/