A year after switching from manual routing, all measures of efficiency including driver performance have improved.
This article is largely based on conversations with Larry Klaben, President and Jeff Sprouse, Distribution Center Director of Morris Home Furnishings about their experience of upgrading from manual delivery truck routing to RouteView computer assisted routing. Their candor on the implementation and benefits achieved on this important issue are greatly appreciated.
Prior articles in this series have described the "best of the best" retailers as Benchmark Retailers. Morris Home Furnishings is clearly in this category. Founded in 1947 near downtown Dayton, the third generation of the family continues under Larry Klaben’s leadership since 1998. The company satisfies consumer needs for furniture, bedding, electronics and appliances in the six county Miami Valley area. An important factor in their business is offering same day and next day delivery on many items, seven days a week.
Until the spring of 2001, Morris Home Furnishings manually routed their trucks. The person responsible for overall routing balanced out the routes, then gave them to the drivers to sequence the stops and call customers to advise them of their estimated arrival time and clarify directions, if necessary. Delivery teams then loaded their 28 ft. high cube trucks and departed. Morris was operating a dozen trucks and increasing business activity created pressure to add more.
When computer assisted routing was introduced, drivers felt that they could do a better job of routing. They were also concerned that this change would reduce their pay calculated as a percentage of sales for each successful delivery. With a year’s experience, the driver teams are pleased as this program actually improved their income as it reduced the number of hours they work. When they come to work, routing is already done so they are able to load their routes and get on the road much earlier. They now average twenty stops or more per truck and routes rarely overlap. Driver turnover is nearly zero and improved driver morale has had a dramatic impact on customer satisfaction. Larry Klaben said "As president of the company, it is important to me that we are receiving more calls and letters from customers commending our delivery people and service."
Since converting their routing operation, business is up 20% but nine trucks are accomplishing the work that twelve did previously. In addition, each truck is running 25 miles less per day so the trucks last longer and operating costs are lower. One of the surplus trucks is now used as a replacement for vehicles having maintenance or for peak capacity days. Previously, extra trucks were rented. Labor, FICA, overhead and benefit costs are similarly reduced. The bottom line impact is dramatic.
Distribution Center Director, Jeff Sprouse used to do the manual routing. In the new environment, it takes him about 15 minutes and several others have been trained to use the system. Each router learned the job in less than a week. Jeff is now available to do other things, knowing that the routing will be done accurately by others.
The Miami Valley area has had strong new home building and many customers are in new developments that aren’t on any published maps. Previously, customer’s directions were often inadequate, the end result being wasted time, mileage and late deliveries on subsequent stops. The RouteView address database is updated every three months. As a result, the number of calls to customers for directions has been drastically reduced. The system also can generate maps for driver convenience.
Morris Home Furnishings Point of Sale option in GERS allows setting limits of stops on a route based on the zip code entered by the sales associate. Integrated with GERS, RouteView verifies the address and zip code during the routing process, thus eliminating the wrong zip code being assigned to a zone not offered for delivery that day and preventing an out-of-zone delivery.
The Morris Home Furnishings web site is well worth visiting as a Benchmark for others. The web site address is www.morrishomefurnishings.com. When you visit the site, be sure to check out the Delivery Section as it clearly discloses the terms and conditions as well as what the delivery teams are allowed to perform... and what they cannot do. The final benefit customers derive from the web site is the ability to check what their delivery window time is for the next day. Another good feature is that the site site provides the phone number for customer service. So many people forget that important detail.
The bottom line is that by using today’s technology Morris Home Furnishings gained competitive advantage and boosted profits.
Daniel Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. Questions can be directed to Mr. Bolger care of FURNITURE WORLD at firstname.lastname@example.org.