What Is Territory Planning? A Complete Guide
Are your drivers struggling with completing their deliveries for the day? Read on to learn about the solution — territory planning.
Let’s cut to the chase. Say hello to Circuit for Teams, route optimization software that lets dispatchers and managers create efficient routes for multiple drivers.
POV: It’s Monday morning. Your team of drivers is waiting for you to send them out on their deliveries.
You’ve been spending hours charting what you consider to be the best routes on Microsoft Excel — and yet, several deliveries arrive late at the end of each day.
Tortured by traffic all day, your poor drivers get an earful from angry customers, and you lose important business.
Now that’s a grim situation.
In fact, almost 73% of poor deliveries result in lost business, meaning customers might go elsewhere for their products.
Biblical daydreams of parting the sea (of traffic) aside, what can you really do to make your drivers’ jobs easier and keep customers coming back for more?
The simple answer is territory planning and route optimization.
If you’re a dispatcher or manager, you probably break up drivers into groups, with each one focusing on a different area in the city.
Armed with a city map, Google Maps, and markers, you’ve carved up the city into zones assigned to specific drivers so that they aren’t running from one end of the city to another, wasting half their time on the road.
This is territory planning.
Except that in today’s day and age, you can use technology to optimize routes. Routing software performs the same task to create efficient and balanced workloads for drivers while maximizing vehicle capacity in much less time.
What is territory planning?
Territory planning is the process of dividing large geographical areas into smaller zones and assigning them to specific drivers to service each area smoothly — without delays and additional costs.
This allows drivers to get to know the area they’re assigned to and use this local knowledge to make faster deliveries.
Sounds pretty logical, right?
And yet, so many delivery services make deliveries based solely on their intuition.
The result? Their drivers end up delivering to distant areas separated by hours of traffic and might not become experts in any particular area.
This can lead to higher delivery time frames. Sound familiar?
Territory planning also takes into account where your drivers live or where your delivery office is located.
You ideally want to assign drivers to zones where they already live to help reduce the time they spend on the road and even fuel costs.
As many business owners know, the less money you have to spend on vehicle maintenance, the better!
Another advantage of territory planning is that it can be changed based on the specific driver and customer feedback.
For example, some customers may recommend delivering in the area around a certain time when they’ll be there to accept the package.
Then, the driver is less likely to have to redeliver.
5 benefits of territory management
Not sure why you should focus on territory planning? Let’s dive into some of the main benefits.
Improved customer service
Customers want nothing more than to receive their orders in good condition and as soon as possible. With many shopping platforms offering next-day delivery, customer expectations have never been higher.
Thankfully, these expectations can be turned into five-star reviews with territory and route planning.
Route optimization software like Circuit for Teams can also help make sure your drivers deliver packages on time by optimizing the fastest sequence of stops and avoiding hurdles like traffic jams. The driver app can also send updates to customers to keep them notified.
Inefficient delivery services may lead to higher fuel and worker costs compared to field services that use optimization strategies.
Territory planning is clearly also better for the environment.
If you’re burning less fuel and using your vehicles less, that means less pollution.
This is, by no means, an easy feat.
However, with territory mapping, dispatchers can identify areas where a majority of their customers are located and assign drivers to those areas based on demand.
This makes sure that customers get their packages on the promised delivery date without needless time delays.
Identifying those areas allows your last-mile delivery service to prepare for surges in specific customer locations, saving precious time.
Route optimization software like Circuit can also make sure packages aren’t delayed due to traffic or poor planning.
The routing tool considers traffic, weather, construction work, roadblocks, and peak congestion times to map the most convenient routes for your drivers.
Happier delivery drivers
Sitting behind the wheel all day, every day, isn’t quite as fun as the movies might make it seem.
Trust me, it’s more Taxi Driver than Fast & Furious.
By streamlining drivers’ workloads and assigning them specific areas, drivers can complete their deliveries faster — leaving them enough time to pick up more shifts or even get home earlier.
Finish work quicker and get home in time to eat with the family at the dinner table — who doesn’t want that?
Reduced wear and tear
With reduced long-distance driving, damage to delivery vehicles and long-term wear and tear reduces.
Your business can also better care for vehicles when your drivers aren’t spending all their time on the road.
Less time on the roads also means fewer potential accidents or related damages.
How to implement territory-based route planning in 3 steps
What do drivers hate most in the world? Traffic, duh.
Trudging along busy roads, cursing, and watching their navigation app illuminate endless, angry red arteries across the city is nobody’s idea of an ideal day at work.
There’s a reason roads inspire rage!
But with the right territory-based route planning software, you can minimize the time spent on roads and maximize your team’s efficiency.
1. Define your delivery area
You might divide territories into smaller delivery areas based on the location of and proximity to warehouses and areas where you have more deliveries.
It also makes sense to divide territories so that drivers aren’t stupidly driving between two or more far-flung locations in a day.
Having a fixed area also helps drivers learn more about a particular area, allowing them to make deliveries quicker.
This is important because service territory planning means that the same bunch of delivery agents will be making deliveries in the area.
It helps if your drivers recognize and know the areas.
2. Create and distribute routes between your delivery drivers
Once you have your different zones in place, the next step is to assign those zones to different drivers.
While you might have done this manually so far, routing software now lets you do this digitally, taking a fraction of the time.
Add your delivery addresses and details of your team of drivers for the day to a route planning app like Circuit for Teams.
Circuit breaks up delivery routes among your drivers and optimizes the routes needed to make those deliveries in the shortest amount of time.
The app also allows your dispatchers to monitor in real time your drivers’ progress.
This way, you can stay on top of the day’s deliveries and account for drivers who are possibly running behind schedule.
Circuit even lets you set some deliveries as a priority if they’re expected earlier than others.
A route is then created based on both priority deliveries and the shortest or fastest routes.
3. Make sure your drivers have a route optimization app
Finally, territory planning wouldn’t be complete without a route planner.
With an optimization solution like Circuit for Teams, drivers can see their delivery schedules for the day and drive along optimized routes that have them avoid common road hurdles.
They can focus on getting packages to customers, and you can focus on all the rest.
Plus, drivers can send notifications to customers to keep them up to date about their specific deliveries with delivery time windows.
This can lead to customer satisfaction, which can mean better business for you.
Improve your delivery management with route optimization software
If you’re ready to upgrade your delivery management system to the next level, Circuit for Teams might be right for you.
As a multi-driver route optimization software, Circuit uses real-time traffic data and maps it onto delivery routes to determine the least trafficked, congested, and more efficient roads to take to get to your deliveries on time.
Not only will you manage different sales territories better, but you’ll also give a more efficient service to your customers.
As a dispatcher or manager, you probably spend hours every day planning delivery schedules. Circuit can do the same in seconds.