Good afternoon everyone. I’d like to welcome you to our podcast. Today we’re going to be interviewing Merritt Woodward from the University of Rochester, say hello Woody. Hello Woody. I also have Kim Thoman our Business Analyst with us today. Let’s jump in and get started. Today we’ll be talking a little bit about Route4Me. Woody has been a customer of ours since 2015 on the Geotab platform and very recently he deployed route4me to meet his routing needs. Woody, what was it that got you started thinking about routing and thinking that you needed some kind of an application to help you with that?
So even pre-COVID we were doing some on-demand deliveries that made our lives a little bit more difficult as far as being able to plan our actual routes every single day. While Geotab and everything they have worked out great in the beginning you know we used it to its full potential and we’re able to route each one of our drivers based on geographic areas that we needed to go to and it’s been a great tool right from the beginning so, a little intensive on the front end but you know we were able to get through it and actually make sure my drivers got the most out of every day.
Great, and so let me ask you then so what did your process look like before you had implemented not only just the GPS portion of it but a routing solution that coincides with that?
Pre-everything that was paper and dreams. [Laughter] I can imagine that would be. And a huge had no we had nothing other than the fact that we hoped that our driver knew where he was going.
So now that you have implemented the Route4Me solution has it made a big impact on the way that your daily operations work today?
Ridiculous impact actually, yeah we’ve increased our on-demand deliveries and this is partially due to COVID but nothing that’s going to stop when COVID stops. Everyone’s crossing their fingers right now. You know this is never going to go away. So my pre-on-demand, my pre-2015 on-demand deliveries were probably between eight and ten a day. When I first brought on Geotab it was I could implement an increase to 20 to 30 a day without me having to do much, and just to give you a good example, today I had 148 and I consider that a light day.
Wow, that sounds like a huge improvement in your productivity and being able to get more stops in and a lot more happy customers.
Yeah, ridiculous on every level actually.
That’s great! So while we’re talking about it would you mind showing us a little bit about how you use the Route4Me tool on a daily basis?
Okay so this is today’s Route4Me um this is the address book map, so actually I came here, went to address book map and I’ll just let it pop back up for us for a second because it’ll reload hopefully my counterparts are not removing everything on me right now, which they’re not so that’s good and that’s what my new schedule looks like for today. You see a couple of the spots outside every one of these areas is a current delivery area for one of my drivers. It also has certain impacts on what they would actually deliver during the day so this large one down here, he actually makes the longest leap and he comes all the way down into Danville every day. So yeah so that’s his and then he picks up anything in this area afterward on his way back in so that helps us out a little bit, and you know so that’s actually one of our smaller routes you can see we can actually get larger ones like this one up here. He had 31 on-demand deliveries today for himself and tomorrow that will jump to probably 45-50 and I’m able to handle this all really based on this software. Before how it was with Geotab, there was a 25 max for me to import, and then to give someone more than 25 was actually very difficult because I would have to split routes and try to figure out what to do with them from there. Whether they stayed with the same driver or not. Now, with this, I can actually move forward so this is just our planned routes also so this is just what’s planned. Anything that comes in tonight, we actually import all of this information from an excel sheet and put all of these in so if I literally click on one of them (which I don’t know if I can actually do) but you can actually see how it’s got a name and it’s got an address attached to it right there.
Absolutely, going into huge detail.
So that’s information that was provided by the customer tonight. Tomorrow I will actually get more. And you can still see my map I hope, I’ve just changed to what the routes look like today.
Yep, we’re still following you. Wow!
Yep, so that did jump up to 148. It was probably 117 that we imported and then I got another, again something I was never able to do was just be able to add them in afterward on the fly. This automatically updates for the drivers also which is insanely nice. The little quirky things that we got from Geotab don’t happen on this system as much. It’s more, it’s more address-based. It actually zeroes in on the address a little bit better than Geotab does so if you’re going to Main Street sometimes you could end up three blocks away from the address you were on because it already recognized you were on Main Street. Now that doesn’t happen anymore so it’s very, the geocoding is fantastic.
How much time would you say you spent to create these routes that we’re looking at now?
Everything I have on here, so the original ones these routes, and I’m going to go backwards a little bit, so these routes that you see right here probably take me on average if I massage one it’s going to take me five to six minutes to import it. This route here, back before Route4Me was at least a half-hour to 45 minutes worth of work.
And the only reason is because inside of that route is there’s a bunch of time stops that I would have to massage into however many so his other 18 deliveries that he’d made today, even this little one over here was the same way that Val’s route here has three or four time stops in here that I add in after the fact that cause more problems. So even that little route still would have taken me at least 20 minutes to figure out.
Well that frees you up for an opportunity to get a whole lot more regular work done other than having to deal with this and hopefully you know there’s only one of you so now you’re a little bit more available to work on some other areas that could be affecting and we can help you know possibly make you more productive in.
Yes, absolutely and it’s all the little things too. It’s like so I just moved down this is my route list for today. You’ll notice that these two here are actually for tomorrow for 4/16 and they are actually duplicated routes that show up. Well, it says so right here, “candidate with Geneva” actually happens every single day this is actually set up Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and this one is Tuesday Wednesday, and Friday because the route changes slightly. These are static routes that go in every morning and they pre-populate the day before so I don’t have to worry about remaking the routes all the time and it automatically shows up every day, which is another huge tool because while you could make as many routes as you wanted in straight Geotab, you would also have to remember to import them or turn them on for any given day.
Yeah and you know that’s exactly why we and Geotab with the marketplace is just, it’s very valuable to have because we can’t be experts in everything. Some people are extremely good at routing, we’re really good at fleet management, but when you combine the two it gives you this great tool where you only have to go to a one-stop-shop to get all of your busy needs done and get everybody planned for the day so it’s amazing to hear how many more stops you got out of a day and how much more you know that ad hoc business that you’re able to add on a daily basis for your customers.
Sure yeah absolutely. We’re actually looking to be able to take on the am and pm deliveries pretty soon.
This is just based on a day-to-day when you know we’re hoping to take that over for at least three of my regular clients, hopefully, before summer fully hits.
And just for kind of just a general explanation, you know Woody is with the University of Rochester and they are out delivering pharmaceutical supplies to/for all of the hospitals in the area so he’s one division of the education university, just to let everybody kind of have an idea what he’s using these routes for. So if you’re a delivery fleet or a service fleet this is really something that you could definitely take advantage of and as he mentioned you could do it with planned routes or you can have unplanned routes that you can do on the fly during the day if need be. So if you get those one-off calls this is a tool that would be able to help you work that into an existing schedule
One of the unusual things that Woody deals with is having some very tight time windows to make some of the deliveries with the chemotherapy drugs. Is that correct Woody?
Yes, it is.
Can you explain a little bit more what the difficulties are there and how we have approached that?
So and that’s you know that’s definitely something we continue to work on. So my favorite part about this system right now is the fact that this which I had no idea when we first purchased the software was this approved to execute. So these two routes tomorrow morning I’m gonna go like that because it doesn’t matter how many I turn on. So now I’ve just hit approved to execute on those. What that’s going to do now is those two routes tomorrow morning will send messages to the pharmacist that their deliveries have been made and what time they were made at. It’s ridiculously helpful for them to know that the compounding center didn’t send out a drug that was three to four hours old and they only have 15 minutes left to use it, and the pharmacist also and the compounding end wants to know that we actually got their chemotherapy drug there on time. So you’ll see weird little things in here that also speak to that. This driver actually that is a start right there. I started him out there only because his route has to happen after that and I do it for the long-term ones in general. So the same thing here. This route starts there because I need him to work his way back. That’s just one of the little tricks I learned on Route4Me on how to do it. They’re actually starting up here and picking up compound from the compounding center but I want them to go directly there first so that’s where their start-stop begins and then they deliver on their way back from those places. So it’s kind of entertaining yeah, yeah it took me a minute to figure that out but it was you know it was a smart way around it and it just you know time windows work and they work well actually. It’s just, as you can see, I don’t exactly have a half-hour buffer in there anywhere where I can just say sit and wait for a half an hour before you can get into one of these places so that was a smart workaround.
Great, great. I’m glad that that was able to be solved for you and if you had to guesstimate just by increasing those, the productivity and the amount of trips and deliveries, would you be able to put up kind of a dollar figure towards the bottom line of how that’s helped you guys improve operations?
Revenue has been without getting into direct numbers, revenue has been ridiculous and we are a non-profit so we’re just looking to cover our costs, but we’re also looking to save the university money as a whole, so on that end, I can’t, yes I can tell you that, yeah on any given week we’re saving at least two thousand dollars a week on outside money, we actually call it green money. Because it’s actually green money, anything spent outside of university is green money anything else inside the universities called blue money. So you want to spend blue money before green money and the blue money is cheaper than real money so,
They like that, they like that part, but yes so it is close to two thousand dollars a week and that’s not including myself or my other supervisor’s time that we’ve saved just moving to this over the last couple of months which, I have not done a number based on yet only because it’s been about three months now and once I do I’ll, we’ll definitely share that with Lynn and we can laugh about it later.
Okay, I’m looking forward to that.
If something happened and they told you we were gonna have to take this away from you Woody, what would your response be?
Yeah I would laugh at you first because there’s no way you know unless, unless something blows up somewhere because there’s just no, I, we couldn’t do what we’re doing today without this, at least not to the same potential so I mean I would need to increase my hours by at least two hours a day to be able to do what I do right now, and like I said it just continues to grow. It’s ridiculous so you know we couldn’t we would actually have to stifle a few of our customers if that were to happen.
Yeah, and that’s completely understandable. I mean once you get the hang of it nobody wants to go back to the old days and when you talk about all of the revenue benefits that you can take advantage of and then you consider the fact that the monthly cost for the Route4Me is reasonable and the GPS, especially over the years is extremely easy to achieve. You’ve, sounds like you’ve paid for the solution for an entire month for the fleet in about a week and that’s pretty crazy.
Yeah it’s not quite that long either so we’ll, but I’ll leave that number alone. It might be closer to a day and a half.
Yeah, that’s for real. Yeah, it might be a day and a half, might even be a day. I mean again you know that’s a little being a little extravagant there’s a couple days that have actually paid for it straight out. Yeah so that’s good, yeah and it’s funny because my business has grown in tandem with, or as we’ve gained access to new and different things, and mostly thanks to Lynn I mean you know every tool that I’ve gotten you know has been thanks to her. I’m glad we started this relationship and it’s really worked out for both the U of R and I hope for you guys.
You’re on my list to show intelligent zones next.
And the good news is that one’s free.
Nice, thank you.
It seemed to me like it was time to get a freebie going your way.
Yeah I’ll take it.
Woody, is there anything else that you wanted to share with us that you think is really cool?
I’m just, I’m just typing in right now and yeah I figured I’d just show you how easy this stuff can get sometimes because it really is just that easy. I will do something that I know we’ll do, it’s fun typing when I’ve got stuff in my earÃ¢??Â¦ I just love how easy this part is, so this is inserted so that this is going to insert into the best address right there so and at first I was, it’s hysterical you know how you laugh at yourself a lot?
I got annoyed by this at first and it actually gets smarter as it goes so it’s looking at the best possible route, that’s about the average time it takes, so and it tells you right there he was exactlyÃ¢??Â¦
These are suggestions?
This is suggestions, so every day yeah so every day when I go in here and I get my ad hocs from 8:30 in the morning until 9:30 in the morning and they bury me with them. I think my worst day ever was I got 46 within that hour. I can type, I can literally copy and paste each one of those off of my email and say here okay you need something to go 100 street, no problem. I hit this proceed and it just assigned it to Hugh and it put it in the optimal position.
It’s hard to see inside of this right now but he was orange and now there’ll be two numbers for Hugh. Let’s see if I can find Hugh there he is and you can see it actually backed up right there there’s the new one that I just put in.
But yeah and like I said I laughed because at first, I’m like wow this takes way too long until you realize what it’s doing. It’s actually looking for the best possible place to put it and then it actually puts it there so each one of these routes has and it’s kind of funny you can tell anything that’s a checkmark is one I just put in. Anything with the five-minute mark on it is something that was put in the night before. So just so you know that’s how that works and that’s how it… you know you know so anything because with the checkmarks I’m just putting it in ad hoc. For real it’s there was no planning whatsoever and there’s tons of those in there.
Yeah, one route looks like that’s all it was.
Yeah, and it’s really, yeah it’s not it’s just that’s yeah it just expands out some and then you can see some of them were duplicates and not duplicates andÃ¢??Â¦ yeah so and it’s fun and I’m dealing with you know upwards of eight to nine customers who are using this using us to do this so that works out really good too.
Awesome! Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I think a lot of people are going to get a lot out of being able to see how this is working in a real-life situation instead of theoretically which is, you know when we are talking with people about routing we’re talking very theoretically because we don’t have anybody to route. We drive desks over here, so I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today Woody. Kim, I thank you for taking time out of your day to join us and I want to thank everyone who has watched.
And if anybody would like more information please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or go to www.fleetistics.com and you can request more information from there as well.