Now you know how important on-time performance (OTP) is. The next question is how can you improve yours?
1. Make OTP Easy to Monitor
The first thing to do is make it easy to track. If your workflow involves a lot of manual processes or report generation, then it becomes a burden and is something that will be easy to skip on busy days.
With DispatchBot, we make tracking your on-time performance very easy. Its shown to disaptchers as they schedule trips. If a trip is scheduled in such a way that there is no way the driver can get the passenger to their appointment on time, DispatchBot will add a visual alarm to the trip.
This alarm doesn’t go away until the problem is fixed. Having a persistent reminder built into the workflow that dispatchers are already using is the best way to ensure problems get fixed.
DispatchBot also has a number of reports that highlight potential OTP issues throughout the day. For example, DispatchBot will send a nightly email informing the dispatch team of any possible OTP violations occurring the next morning. This provides ample time to address those scheduling issues prior to the drivers even starting the route.
2. Remember load and unload time
An often overlooked aspect of scheduling is the load and unload time the passenger will require getting in and out of the vehicle. If schedules are tight, these minutes can really add up – to the point where the driver starts arriving late to their next trip.
We recommend adding at least 5 minutes to the estimated drive time for every trip. This gives the passenger roughly 2.5 minutes to load and unload from the vehicle. If the passenger has mobility impairments that may slow them down, you should increase the load/unload time appropriately. For example, you should budget for at least 10 minutes to load a wheelchair passenger.
Your drivers are going to be the first to know if they are hitting traffic, or a passenger is taking longer than expected to load. The goal is to get this information back to your dispatchers as quickly as possible.
Some software packages, such as DispatchBot, will provide complimentary tools to automate this flow of information. For example, DispatchBot provides a complimentary mobile app that tracks the driver’s position and status of trips and displays this information back to the dispatcher, all in real-time.
If a larger problem arises, such as a road closure due to a traffic accident, or a passenger is running especially late while the driver is at their pick up location, the driver should contact dispatch to inform them of the situation, and hopefully provide an outlook on how long the problem will persist. This information is not easily captured in automated tools, so it is best to call the dispatcher for a brief conversation.
The dispatcher should then adjust the remainder of the affected driver’s schedule, such that future trips are not negatively impacted.
4. Account for Traffic Conditions
Traffic can be unpredictable. Some days its fine, some days its not. As a general rule, the further a vehicle is traveling between trips, the higher the chances they have for being affected by traffic. Keep this in mind when scheduling long trips, or having a driver drive all the way across town for his next pick up.
5. Buffer Windows
A buffer window is a block of time in a driver’s schedule that has no trips to be performed. For example, this could be a 30-60 minute window towards the end of the shift. The purpose of this window is to prevent one really late trip earlier in the schedule from affecting the remainder of the trips.
This technique may seem counter-intuitive. You are intentionally creating schedules with holes in them, leading to a vehicle being under-utilized. However, when this is done correctly, those holes become great places to schedule will-calls (as well as act as buffers for late trips earlier in the day). You will need to experiment with this technique in your own organization, and get a feel for the kinds of trips you do and your service area.
These are just a few things to help you improve your on-time performance. The important thing is to monitor it and always be looking for ways to improve it!
Do you have additional ideas on how to improve your OTP? Share them in the comments section below.