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What to Look for in a Construction Material Delivery App

Delivering construction material can be chaotic at the best of times. Your clients are on tight timelines, and they often want their deliveries on same-day or next-day turnarounds, which can make routing and scheduling a real highwire act. At the same time, job sites themselves can often appear chaotic from the outside, and delivering to them successfully means making sure the right person is able to sign for the order, ensuring you show up at a time when they actually have space for the items you’re delivering, and effectively tracking any returned items. construction material delivery app

Throw in volatile market conditions (for instance the price fluctuations we had around lumber last year), and managing your deliveries in a cost-efficient way becomes even trickier. Simply put, you need the right tools, processes, and technologies in place if you’re going to turn the chaos of job site deliveries into something smart and efficient that consistently keeps your customers happy. That’s why choosing the right construction material delivery app is so critical to successful delivery management in the construction supply industry. But what should you look for in delivery management technology to make sure you’re getting the capabilities you actually need?

Rapid Route Optimization

Like we said above, your clients are likely to need deliveries turned around on a tight timeline more often than not. That’s why the ability to create accurate routes quickly is so important. If your routing engine takes hours to run, your order cutoff is going to be too early to accommodate last-minute requests. Conversely, if you’re able to generate delivery routes within a matter of minutes, you can have a late enough cutoff time that you’re actually able to handle orders that come in late in the day. 

By the same token, when you can rapidly adjust your routes without losing efficiency, you can handle same-day orders without your existing plans falling apart. Instead of brute forcing a new stop into a particular route and hoping for the best, you can re-optimize to see what the most efficient way to reorganize your routes is given the new order. When your routing technology is highly accurate and enables you to consistently deliver at the right time, you can get more out of your capacity while keeping your customers happy at the same time. 

Configurable Customer Communications

Communicating with customers throughout last mile deliveries is crucial for keeping everyone in the loop—but communications often aren’t one-size-fits-all. If your business involves a combination of deliveries and installations, you might want to send different notifications depending on what type of service you’re offering at that particular stop. Someone expecting delivery and installation might need more information about how to get ready before the team shows up, for instance. 

That’s why one of the most powerful features that your construction material delivery app can offer is configurable customer communications that can be segmented by different service types or products. Why is this so important? Because a great delivery experience is an important extension of your brand. When your customers see that you’re taking special care to speak to their unique needs and use case—not to mention giving them real-time delivery updates and enabling them to track deliveries from their own devices—it builds trust and confidence, and it makes them more likely to order from you again in the future. 

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The trick here is to make sure you’re using your branding to show off your identity in the right light and to make sure you’re communicating at all the right touchpoints. Your software solution should make that easy. 

Pickup Logistics Optimization Integrated with Your Construction Material Delivery App

Particularly when it comes to construction materials, delivery isn't the sum total of order fulfillment. For many construction material businesses, store and warehouse pickups are also a big part of the equation. Though pickup processes often get less attention than delivery, they can be nearly as complex, and it’s worth treating them with the same eye towards efficiency and optimization. 

In order to prevent traffic jams at your pickup site and overworked store/warehouse associates, you’re construction material delivery app needs to offer a few different features with regard to pickup logistics:

  • Capacity management: The building products logistics software you use for scheduling pickups should enable you to set capacity parameters to ensure that you don’t have more customers coming to the store at a particular time than you can actually serve. 
  • Customer communications: When you’re delivering items to customers, you obviously want to give them a heads up when you’re en route. With pickups, it’s just as important to let customers know when their items are ready for pickup.
  • Proof of pickup: Your construction material delivery app should help ensure a complete audit trail of every pickup by empowering associates to collect signatures and photos for proof of pickup. 
  • Associate alerts: In order to keep things running as smoothly as possible, you want to minimize the amount of time your associates spend tethered to a computer. Ideally, they’d receive alerts on their phones when it was time to pick a particular order and whenever a customer had arrived at the pickup site. 

Robust Proof of Delivery

We mentioned proof of pickup briefly in the last section, but what about proof of delivery? When it comes to delivering construction materials to jobsites, it’s hard to overstate how important it is. For one thing, jobsite theft is a real problem—which means the ability to prove that you actually did deliver a particular pallet of siding at a particular time is critical. It’s also important when it comes to managing returned items; the better documentation you have, the more effectively you can triage items that are damaged versus items that can be resold. 

So what should your proof of delivery actually offer? For starters, you’ll need timestamped and geo-stamped photos, as well as signatures and notes for each delivery. From there, you might also want to offer drivers a checklist to ensure that they’ve taken any steps that needed to be taken during unloading, installation, etc. By the same token, you can require reason codes for any returns in order to make it easier to manage the items that come back to the warehouse at the end of the day. If a quantity of pipes was sent back with the driver simply because of over-ordering, you’ll be able to immediately tag the product as being fine to resell. 

Future-Proof Technology

Delivery management is complex, and customer needs change all the time. That’s why, when selecting delivery management technology, it’s so crucial to think beyond the needs you have this week, or this month, or even this year. Replacement cycles for technology tend to be a few years at least, so your solution should at least cover your needs for that length of time—but really, wouldn’t it be better to have a technology partner who’s with you for the long haul?

When you’re looking for a construction material delivery app, one of the most important things to seek out is technology that can help you future-proof your IT and your processes. This might mean opting for cloud technology to ensure that your software never goes out of date. It might also mean seeking out AI and machine learning powered technologies so that you’re well positioned to take advantage of future advances in those technologies. If you can do that, you can set yourself up for successful building materials delivery for many years to come. 

DispatchTrack offers the most powerful end-to-end suite of tools for last mile logistics operators. Dispatchers, drivers, customers and clients can access our app on any device to schedule, track, modify and verify your deliveries.

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