What do old appliances, used office furniture and broken televisions all have in common? Eventually, big, bulky objects need to get thrown out. And this can be a difficult task.
For help, companies and consumers in the Washington, DC metro area rely on my 1-800-GOT-JUNK business. We help DC-area customers remove unwanted materials responsibly, conveniently and affordably.
My team makes the process look simple, but as it turns out, it’s actually a complicated process that requires a high level of backend orchestration.
Time is of the essence
Running a junk removal franchise is no small task and the efficient service we provide does not happen automatically.
Pick up crews, after all, have a tiny window of time to arrive at a job site and complete their work. Think about it for a minute: you schedule a day and time you want your junk removed, tell us what we’re hauling, and expect us to show up for a collection. But we have 19 trucks serving hundreds of customers on a weekly basis, and it takes a great deal of coordination between all of my managers and drivers to make sure our jobs get accomplished on time. That’s a lot of trucks and drivers to keep track of!
Making matters more complicated, transit times and pick-ups can be hard to predict and there are many different factors to consider throughout the day. Jobs can go longer or shorter than expected, drivers can get lost or delayed in transit, or customers may forget about their appointments.
Data makes the world go ‘round
Leveraging real-time data is therefore the key to meeting our customer service commitments.
So to streamline our process, we started using two tools. One is Pipeline, which automates scheduling and route planning, and the other is Results.com, which is an integrated framework that breaks down the entire business into small pieces and displays them over an interactive dashboard.
We thought this would be all we needed to transform our operation overnight. But shortly after setting up Results.com last February, we realized that we were still missing a crucial piece of the puzzle: access to real-time operational data. There was no integration between the scheduling and business management platforms so we were unable to track productivity in real-time. This was a big problem.
AppSheet to the rescue
You see, in the junk removal business, most of the data we collect has a shelf life. Insight that could be extremely valuable to my team at 1 p.m., for example, driver availability or route optimization data, may be useless by the time it gets reported and analyzed in an end of day report.
By itself, Results.com was incapable of providing my team with the real-time fleet tracking that we needed to operate our business efficiently. So I decided to build a solution and integrate it myself, went to Google, entered “iPhone app connected to spreadsheet” and found AppSheet.
Using AppSheet, I was able to quickly and easily create a fleet management app that allows my drivers to enter data from their mobile phones throughout the day. This app works in conjunction with Pipeline, and funnels data directly into our Results.com dashboard. Now we have a closed loop system with all the data we need to react to issues (like bad traffic delaying a scheduled pick-up) in real-time. Check out this video to see how these 3 products work together.
Our AppSheet app helps my team work smarter throughout the day, so they can complete jobs faster and meet our customers’ expectations.
Now, as soon as pick-ups begin at 8 a.m., we can see exactly how much projected revenue is expected for the day. And as the day progresses, we can see exactly where drivers are in their schedules. This allows us to identify unique opportunities for completing jobs faster.
For example, a manager can use the app to change the order of a job and alert a crew in the field. Say, for instance, that a driver has two jobs to do on the same street — one at 10 a.m., and another at 2 p.m. The manager could use the app to try and bump up the latter customer’s pick-up time. This eliminates backtracking, saving time and gas, and frees our drivers up to take on even more jobs.
There is also a bonus plan that is directly tied into productivity. The more that my field crews know about where they are in the day, and how close they are to reaching their goals, the easier they can project how much extra bonus they are going to get. Our AppSheet app allows them to visualize how they are performing and what they need to do for an extra bonus — a win-win for everyone as more jobs are completed and drivers get rewarded for how much they’re able to accomplish in a given day.
If I can make an app, you can too
I didn’t rely on anyone for the app design process. I figured it out on my own, which — for someone with no coding experience — is a testament to how great an app maker platform it is. I am pretty good working with spreadsheets, and that’s enough to be able to work with AppSheet.
One of the great things about AppSheet is that it allows you to see your app as you’re making it. I was really amazed at the integration between AppSheet’s simulator and the input data — this made rapid prototyping easy. This feature alone helped me figure out how to build my solution as I was able to perform a test, see the result, change it and repeat.
I have been super happy and impressed with AppSheet since the first time I used it. It’s made my data much more visible, and actionable, which gives me a big advantage over my competitors. I can’t imagine running my business without it.
So if you have ever thought about making an app for your business, it’s time to stop making excuses. Go out and try AppSheet for yourself today. You’ll thank me later!
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