In our 33-plus years of experience helping DSD businesses run more efficiently, we have seen and assisted all kinds of business models in making their operations run more smoothly and efficiently. After all, that's the goal of our Solid Route Accounting™ software. In all these businesses, though, one thing is constant. The faster a salesperson can move through a customer's site, the more stops they can make in a day. This translates into real dollars for your business that can be seen near immediately.
This article is about how to improve your salesperson's efficiency. What you might find surprising is that this will actually have very little to do with your salespersons! This report will show you how to make small changes within your Solid Route Accounting™ software to shave seconds, minutes, and by week's end hours off your salesperson's work without increasing their responsibilities.
In fact, this article will show you how to reduce their responsibilities so they have fewer things to worry about, fewer records to sort through, and fewer errors to correct. The best thing is that many of these things will require a very little amount of your time to implement; however, the more of these you can use, the more money will show up in your bank account at the end of the month.
This may seem like the less obvious place to start when talking about salesperson efficiency. After all, the salesperson only has to select a customer once when making an invoice, as opposed to inventory, where they're adding tens, even hundreds of items, to a single invoice. Yet, if a person makes 20 invoices in a day, this is a step that they're doing 20 times a day, 100 times a week, and 2,000 times a month. Suddenly shaving two seconds off this process saves them an hour of work.
1. Customer Route Groups
We will mention this one first because, quite simply, it is the easiest to do. Customer Route Groups (CRG) can be used to restrict what customers appear on the salesperson's mobile computer. With unsorted customer records and two trucks on the road, each salesperson has to sort through twice as many customer records as necessary each and every day. When Customer Route Groups are set up correctly for each salesperson, only the customers they service will show on their mobile computers.
Once the customer records have been assigned, the route group can then be assigned to the salesperson's mobile unit records. Now, after the mobile's next sync, only the customers this salesperson services will show in their list of customers. Multiple route groups can be assigned to multiple mobile unit records, which means that if there are some customers that are serviced by two or more salespersons, they can still be set up as such.
For more details, see Solid Know How™ Article #282 How to Create Customer Route Groups.
2. Maintain Up To Date Customer Records
Keeping around a customer record that you will never visit again is only creating one more record to sort through. This is especially detrimental on the mobile, where the extra records must be skipped over on a daily basis. To remove these records from displaying on the mobiles but still maintain the record inside your system, use the above-mentioned Customer Route Group technique to assign them to a route group that will not be assigned to any mobile unit record. This way, the customer will remain in your main accounting system without appearing on any mobile. That step alone is all that is really required to make your salesperson's mobile computer more efficient when searching for the customer they need.
3. Customer Names
This suggestion may not always be applicable; however, it should be considered for situations where it can be used to improve how quickly a customer can be found on the mobile. Before performing any action on this section, it may be desirable to consult your customers first to see if these suggestions will also work for them. After all, it is their name printed on the invoice.
The goal is to make the customer names as short, legible, and searchable as possible. A customer called "Joe's Gas Bar and Convenience" for example:
- Can you simplify the name to "Joe's"?
- Does the store belong to a chain? If so, and if the store number is apparent at the customer sites, including it in the name can be an easy way to identify this store within your list, such as "Joe's #34, Joe's #22, Joe's #02, and so on.
- Be careful not to get too carried away with this, though, as a name like J34 does not provide enough useful information and also will probably not be accepted by the store chain's head office.
Using these shorter names can improve how quickly a customer can be found if the salesperson uses the search feature on the mobile computer, as it is significantly fewer characters to enter than the original name. It will also make the customers easier to find when browsing the customer list.