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Taking a fresh look at food delivery with fleet management

16 November 2020

For Doherty’s Meats, one of Northern Ireland’s leading meat producers, the festive season is likely to be more demanding than ever this year. With a strict emphasis on quality, it needs to deliver products (often with a short shelf life) to customers quickly, and several times a week. 

With consumer buying habits constantly evolving, their customers are under increasing pressure to meet the demand for fully stocked shelves and home delivery vans. A high performing fleet is therefore essential to the Doherty’s Meats business. 

Deliveries have become an increasing focus for many SMEs around the UK over the course of this year. But what about the work behind this? Can fleet vehicles perform deliveries better and cheaper? 

To deal with increasing demand some businesses are paying more to hire extra drivers (sometimes without proper training) and asking them to go beyond the permitted driving times, spending more and more money on fuel. On the other hand, some are looking for ways to streamline and optimise their existing fleet. They are managing this while cutting costs, keeping employees safe and their customer deliveries on time.

A common way to achieve this is by using fleet software, and this is the route that Doherty’s Meats took. Fleet management software specialising in the needs of SMEs, like Vimcar, offer products that optimise existing fleets, the routes they take, and therefore, conserve fuel and employee -related costs. 

Fleet managers overseeing food delivery vehicles can benefit from fleet management software in several ways. Namely, they can review a vehicle’s route to make sure food was delivered to a specified location in a timely manner. It’s crucial that food arrives within a certain time frame to ensure it’s in peak condition. Reviewing a fleet’s route history can also help reduce idling times and highlight which routes can be optimised. This will help save on fuel costs and minimise the numbers of miles delivery vehicles need to travel.

According to Brian McQuaid, Sales and Marketing Manager at Doherty’s Meats: “I can now ascertain whether or not the same vehicles are servicing the same areas and tidy up their route if necessary. We cover the whole of Northern Ireland so looking at route history is really important for us.”

With Vimcar Fleet Geo Brian can optimise his fleet’s routes and make sure there are no time-wasting overlaps. By using the route history function, Brian has an overview of all his vehicles’ previous routes and can analyse the data to make changes. Fleet Geo also tells Brian which of his drivers are closest to his customers. With full control of their fleet, Doherty’s Meats can now get to customers all around the country, quickly and efficiently.

“Knowing where each vehicle is in real-time is really valuable,” continues Brian. “When a customer calls and asks for a delivery, we’re able to give them ETAs. We have hundreds of customers and it’s great to be able to see which van is closest to which customer: a real selling point and a big bonus for us in terms of customer service.”

Another benefit of reviewing the route history of a fleet is being able to see when each vehicle leaves a site, arrives with the customer and returns. This means that businesses like Doherty’s Meats can optimise the number of projects employees complete each day and ensure they’re assisting the maximum number of customers possible. Well organised fleets mean drivers’ tasks are distributed efficiently and fairly and they are therefore less likely to be overworked. Because drivers are often interacting directly with customers, happy drivers will make for happy customers.
 
With increasing demand comes the increasing likelihood of last-minute jobs and late amendments to orders. A major perk of business vehicle tracking is that businesses can see where all their vehicles are at any given time, which allows them to dispatch the nearest vehicles to last-minute or high-priority jobs. On average, the GPS Live Tracking of other fleet management providers refresh every 60 seconds to 2 minutes. With Vimcar, this takes just 20 seconds, ensuring tracking is as close to real-time as possible. This helps to reduce customers’ waiting time and means that the business can complete these projects in a timely manner. Additionally, this means that one driver can complete more jobs in one day if they are called to the jobs closest to them, rather than having to drive to jobs that are further away. 
 
Increasing transparency is a great way to build stronger customer relationships. Business vehicle tracking devices allows geofences to be set around specific addresses, and an alert to be received when vehicles enter and exit that zone. The customer can be immediately notified that a pickup or delivery has been made, thus showcasing that the business is going above and beyond with its services. This geofencing feature can be used for all projects, or it can be reserved for high-priority deliveries and pickups. It can also be used, as in the case of Doherty’s Meats, as a way to control the use of vehicles outside of business hours. This can be an essential feature to protect against vehicle theft and misuse.

Businesses in the UK are currently facing numerous economic and market challenges, which make increasing productivity and optimising costs essential. In a year that has already thrown up significant challenges for food production and delivery businesses, it’s possible that fleet management could deliver significant benefits to your business. As customer satisfaction becomes crucial to how businesses rebuild after lockdown those businesses that are able to manage their vehicles as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, providing accurate ETAs and ensuring visits are not missed, will be in pole position. 

Vimcar is currently running a promotion offering Fleet Geo for free until the 31st December. More than 90,000 vehicles already benefit from Vimcar's services. You could too. Find out more and get started for free.


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