Creating a Driver Schedule That Works for You
An organized driver schedule can help businesses improve last-mile delivery and make it faster. Here’s how to create a schedule that works.
Want to skip the read? The fastest way to create a driver schedule that works for you isf Circuit for Teams, the software that creates driver routes fast to save you time and stress.
It doesn’t matter if you run an eCommerce shop out of your studio apartment or manage a fleet of snowplows — driver schedules are essential.
But the more orders you get, the more complicated your delivery operation becomes. More orders mean more drivers — which means more people to organize and track.
A delivery schedule helps you stay on top of things.
Most business owners and dispatchers already know a little about delivery schedules. That can be a problem, though. We’re so used to the way we do things, we don’t imagine that there could be an easier, better way.
So, we use guesswork, local knowledge, and Google Maps.
There’s another way. Here, you will learn exactly what you need to take your delivery management to the next level with dispatch routing software.
Why is delivery scheduling so important?
First off: What the heck do I mean when I talk about “driver scheduling”?
I’m talking about the act of planning deliveries for your business:
- Charting out where deliveries need to go
- Figuring out what routes to take to make all the pickups and drop-offs
- Deciding which driver is going to complete each route
Whether you’re a business owner or dispatcher, a delivery schedule can make your life easier. Here are some ways you — and your business — can benefit:
- Enhance business efficiency. Sure, you can send your drivers out there with a bunch of packages and trust them to make the deliveries. But it’s a waste of time. If you give one driver 100 packages with delivery stops scattered across the city — with no logical order to their stops — they’ll have to crisscross and backtrack to hit them all. But if you give them a logical sequence of stops based on how close they are, they can deliver a lot faster.
- Make life easier for yourself. A driver schedule keeps dispatchers and drivers happy. How? Well, as the boss, you’ll know exactly which drivers are supposed to be delivering which packages in what time window. It’s a lot easier to keep track of your team, oversee their progress, and hold them accountable for their responsibilities (I talk more about the benefits of tracking your drivers with GPS in this guide).
- Keep your drivers satisfied. Good delivery operations start with hiring a great team of drivers. Once you’ve hired and trained your team, good management keeps them happy and motivated. Drivers benefit from a logical delivery schedule that allows them to hit their stops fast and easy — no wasting delivery time crisscrossing across the city. Giving your drivers an optimized and efficient route can improve performance and keep your team happy and motivated.
- Improve customer experience. Since a driver schedule means faster deliveries, customers can also benefit. There’s less risk of late deliveries, which can leave your customers pissed off. Plus, if you use a route-planning software solution (I talk about this more below), you can give customers perks like delivery notifications and delivery windows. This is another way to make customers’ lives easier and make sure they're happy, improving customer satisfaction.
What should you consider when scheduling drivers and deliveries?
There are a few things to consider when creating an efficient delivery service schedule. For example:
- Delivery destination. Where does each package need to go? How do the different destinations relate to each other? Are there a lot of deliveries in a certain area that you can group together?
- Driver availability. Do you have a big enough team to cover all of your delivery stops? What is the capacity of each driver (how many hours can they work per day or week, and how many deliveries can they make in one stop)?
- Traffic patterns. Speed limits, one-way streets, and rush hour can all impact how fast drivers complete their stops. A delivery schedule can help your team avoid hurdles like congestion to support fast delivery.
- Vehicle capability. Driver vehicles also make a difference. How many packages can a driver’s vehicle hold? Will the driver need to stop to refuel during their shift? This can impact routes and speed.
How to schedule delivery drivers
Obviously, scheduling delivery drivers can benefit you and your small business (and your drivers, too). But just what is the best way to schedule delivery drivers? Follow these steps to make it happen.
1. Organize shipment due dates and times
Some packages may take priority, for example, if they require overnight rush shipment, same-day delivery, 24-hour delivery, or 48-hour delivery.
Make a list of all package due dates and time frames, so you know which ones need to go out first.
Some route-planning software like Circuit for Teams lets you mark packages as priority. The software then prioritizes those packages when creating routes, so drivers hit those stops first.
2. Assess driver availability
Make sure you have the people power to complete your deliveries. Consider how many drivers you have, the hours they work, and how many stops they can make in a route.
Creating more efficient driver schedules can help drivers complete more stops in a shorter time.
For example, a route-planning tool like Circuit for Teams will schedule stops that are all in one neighborhood together, so drivers can cover a single area at once (instead of driving across town and then going back).
3. Plan and schedule efficient driver routes
Once you know which drivers are available, you can schedule their shifts. For example, if you have three drivers working an eight-hour shift, you can divide your deliveries between those three drivers.
The old-school way of making delivery schedules might involve sitting down with a list of delivery drop-off points and manually planning stops using a tool like Google Maps.
This can take hours.
Plus, who wants to spend their time squinting at a map, looking up traffic information, and adjusting routes when new stops are added?
Route-planning software like Circuit for Teams is a lot faster. All you have to do is upload a list of delivery stops to the software with an Excel or a CSV file, for example.
The tool maps out the fastest order of stops, taking into account traffic patterns and construction roadblocks.
You can add and delete stops as needed, and the software will adjust the route.
4. Adjust drivers and routes accordingly
Driver schedules are constantly changing.
First, you have to update the schedule according to what packages need to be delivered and where.
Second, your drivers’ availability and capacity may also change based on the day of the week.
Third, external factors like traffic jams and bad weather can influence timing (for example, icy roads may mean drivers need to go slower).
Update your driver schedules accordingly. Again, a route-planning tool can help. With Circuit for Teams, for example, you can optimize routes in real time, adding and removing stops as needed.
5. Use effective route-planning software
Above, I talked about how route-planning software can simplify last-mile delivery, making it easier and faster to plan and schedule drivers.
This kind of software has other perks, like tracking drivers’ route progress in real time. You can see where each driver is on their route thanks to GPS technology.
You don’t have to call or text them to track down a package’s progress.
Circuit for Teams also lets you send customers real-time updates on where their packages are, so they know when they can expect a delivery. This makes customers’ lives easier and can boost satisfaction.
For example, if a customer has to sign for a package, it’s handy to know when they can expect it. They can then make sure they’re home to receive it instead of missing it (so annoying).
Challenges of creating driver schedules and how to mitigate them
Accurately scheduling deliveries can be difficult because there are so many factors to consider — from driver availability to package drop-off locations and traffic patterns.
Here are some hurdles that can get in the way of your delivery process and how to overcome them.
- Poor organization. You want an organized approach to delivery driver scheduling that factors in traffic, driver availability, and package drop-off locations. An automated tool like Circuit for Teams can help make sure you check all the boxes every time.
- Lack of flexibility. Last-minute events you can’t control can influence driver schedules. For example, if there’s a car crash causing traffic congestion, a driver may need to either slow their route or reroute. A route planner like Circuit for Teams can automatically account for this kind of roadblock and schedule an alternative path.
- Bad communication. It can be hard to track delivery drivers when they’re on the road. It’s a hassle when a manager needs to check on a package process because a customer called to ask about it. A tool like Circuit for Teams makes it easier with automatic GPS tracking and live updates on package deliveries. This also improves customer communication by sending them notifications of when to expect packages.
Use Circuit for Teams to easily manage your drivers
Driver schedules can help dispatchers and business owners finish deliveries quickly and accurately. This can improve business efficiency — and make your job a whole lot easier.
A good driver schedule is also helpful for drivers, so they can complete their stops quicker. It can also be useful for customers by letting them know when they can expect their goods.
Creating driver schedules is a lot easier with a tool like Circuit for Teams. Simply upload your list of delivery stops and the tool uses GPS and mapping technology to figure out what order of stops is fastest.
Drivers can access their routes through the driver app on their mobile phones.
The mobile app also has other functions that make your business delivery more organized, like a package finder and proof of delivery. This lets drivers use a photo or signature to prove that they delivered a package.
Check out the Circuit for Teams delivery scheduling software and benefit from better scheduling processes.