7 Tried and True Tips for Creating Optimised Vehicle Routes

Ann Dewar
May 22, 2023

For field service businesses, travel plays a major part in efficiently completing jobs. And it's also one of the biggest operational costs.

That’s why businesses look at ways to optimise vehicle routes to reduce associated overheads like fuel, labour time, and overtime. Plus, it means they can book more jobs in one day by grouping jobs based on location.

On top of this, leading field service businesses even factor in calculations for traffic congestion and likely fuel costs for each engineer – as well as taking into account field worker availability.

It's fair to say, there’s a lot that goes into optimising vehicle routes.

So, what’s the easiest way to tackle all this?

Well, leading field service businesses are able to take a strategic approach to route planning thanks to tech innovations.

In this blog, we’ll delve into how exactly they’re doing this with 7 top tips:

💡 Tip #1: Take the hassle out with tech

With tech built specifically for field service businesses, you can quickly and easily optimise travel routes. In fact, it's the easiest way to reduce the number of miles field workers travel.

Job tracking software and vehicle tracking systems combined allow you to automate the decision-making process instantly to save you the headache of checking multiple factors – like ever-changing traffic conditions – before scheduling engineers to jobs.

And before it selects an engineer, it takes into account their vehicle location, availability and skill set. The result? Optimised driver productivity.

Actually, this tech underpins a lot of the following tips 👇

💡 Tip #2: Optimise overall job management

One of the biggest wastes of travel time is engineers attending a job that isn't ready for the engineer’s work.

There are so many reasons this can happen. For example:

  • A job is missing job history (so it isn’t clear what elements are complete and ready for the next stage)
  • Parts or kit deliveries are not complete, so the required equipment isn't on site for the engineer's arrival
  • There are restrictions like site access times and agreed maintenance hours, resulting in a lack of access

But having a well-oiled job management process – including clear, accessible records of stage completion or parts deliveries – can literally save thousands in wasted travel.

Schedule Jobs

💡 Tip #3: Ensure engineers have all the kit and stock they need

Needing to revisit the office for things like paperwork, stock, and kit wastes engineers' and travel time. On the other hand, preparing everything in advance – like having comprehensive job histories so that the engineer takes the right kit, saves this waste, and enhances productivity and efficiency.

And if an engineer finds they need a part when on site, with the right tech, you can find the nearest stock – whether that's at a supplier or on a colleague's van – to complete a job and save a repeat trip.

Likewise, only carrying what you need on vehicles makes for lighter vehicles and lower fuel consumption.

💡 Tip#4: Pull in real-time traffic data and vehicle location data

Leveraging real-time data guarantees greater success. And so with real-time visibility of traffic data, you can optimise routes on-the-go to avoid delays.

Some platforms even include built-in sat nav and what3words integrations, so field workers can quickly find even the most out-of-the-way locations.

Ultimately, this means you're more likely to meet customer SLAs, for better customer service, and reduce overtime.

💡 Tip #5: Monitor driver and company vehicle performance

Driver behaviour can have a significant impact on cost… And potentially your reputation.

For example, idling and regular sharp breaking raise fuel consumption. As well as this, poor driving in branded vehicles reflects badly on your business.

The good news is fleet managers can put in place steps to train and incentivise more fuel-efficient driving.

And something as simple as maintaining the correct tyre pressure saves costs too. Did you know: 20% of a vehicle's fuel consumption is caused by poor tyre maintenance?

So, with regular vehicle checks, you can also gain cost savings – whilst protecting your engineers.

💡 Tip #6: Use vehicle tracking devices to boost customer communications

As well as boosting efficiency and profitability, optimised vehicle routes also leads to better customer experiences. Because not only do field workers attend jobs more promptly, but the right tech also allows you to provide customers with real-time updates.

For instance, vehicle tracking devices and features mean customers can see where engineers are and their ETAs, plus any changes and delays.

So, you can manage and exceed customer expectations. And reduce the likelihood of you needing to re-attend an appointment due to a customer no longer being on-site (as they didn't know when to expect you).

Job status & vehicle tracking

💡 Tip #7: Prevent breakdowns

Vehicle breakdowns are one surefire way to scupper any optimisation plans – and any gains you've achieved in efficient route planning.

Preventative maintenance is the cure. 💊

With automated alerts for services and MOTs, it's easier to control maintenance costs and keep vehicles road-worthy. Plus, you can get engineers to do daily vehicle checks to ensure they're fit for the road.

Combined, these processes help prevent vehicles from being out of action. And your engineers from getting stuck waiting for roadside assistance.

Key takeaways: Why tech is a go-to for route optimisation

So, just to summarise, with vehicle route optimisation software and real-time tracking tools, field service businesses can:

✅ Save money on fuel costs by shortening journeys, avoiding traffic and idle time.

✅ Quicker response to clients.

✅ Book more jobs within a day, for higher profits per route because journey times between jobs are shorter… And invoice faster and generate revenue quicker.

✅ Keep vehicles on the road and fleet operations running smoothly.

Optimise vehicle routes to protect profits and deliver better service

The bottom line is that optimising vehicle routes, with the help of vehicle tracking systems, leads to cost reductions, faster delivery times, and ultimately better customer service.

But doing this isn't straightforward…

There are lots of constraints that need considering to ensure the right clients are prioritised, the engineer with the right skills and accreditations is sent – as well as live and ever-changing factors like traffic congestion.

That’s why the easiest way to manage this is with tech. With vehicle route optimisation tools, you can leverage real-time updates and pre-set rules to automate and streamline job management and the travel needed.

It's near impossible to try and do this without one of these innovations. And it certainly makes responding to last-minute changes and emergencies so much easier.

With these tips, you're better placed to achieve your efficiency goals and drive greater profit margins. Plus, with the right tech, you've got a competitive advantage because you can respond to customer quotes, respond to emergencies and deliver to SLAs much faster.

Keen to learn more ways to reduce costs? Check out this blog: How does job management software actually save field services money.

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