Routesaver Better Manages Time, Offering Cost Savings

Hoffman Beverage Co. Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va., a longtime Mickey Truck Bodies customer, became one of the first RouteSaver users when it purchased three of the trailers in July 2004 and 12 more in February. According to Kirk Baldwin, vice president of operations and a 30-year veteran of the company, Hoffman is using the RouteSavers exclusively for convenience store and drug store delivery, which is reflective of a marketplace dominated by the convenience channel.
When Hoffman put its first three RouteSavers on the road last July, it was able to completely eliminate one route. When it put the 12 newest units in circulation this February, it was able to eliminate two more routes. “We have been able to redirect some manpower and eliminate some equipment,” Baldwin explains. “At the same time the RouteSaver has allowed us to accommodate all the current delivery requirements of the stores.”
Typically the Hoffman driver will park his truck on the side of the lot, roll the carts off the back and right into the store’s front door. The driver has a preprinted ticket so the clerk seldom has to come out from behind the counter – all of the product is visible from the carts.  
“With the electronic efficiencies of a pre-sell system and the RouteSaver equipment, the driver leaves the truck once with the product, and puts it in the store. If the driver sells 100 cases, he only moves 100 cases,” Baldwin says.
As a Budweiser wholesaler, Hoffman uses “geographical routing” vs. “full-truck routing,” mainly because it wants the same driver calling on the same customers on a regular basis. As Baldwin explains it, “Our people are long-term employees and they have established good relationships with their customers. They know their customers, and they can also do some suggestive selling in addition to the pre-sell. We’re also visiting the stores more frequently with this pre-sell system, and we feel that will increase sales. We can still make our deliveries, we can still pack the boxes and do all the things we need to do, but we can do it in less time and that allows the driver to put more stops on one truck. It also allows our driver to serve as a salesperson and a customer service rep.”
The drivers average about 12 stops per day, working every stop twice a week. “You have to keep in mind that we are a Budweiser house,” Baldwin says. “We have a 53 percent market share, and we want to retain our people because they help maintain and grow that share. This system helps us lengthen the driver’s career. Experience, customer service and knowledge of the customer are always important factors to a Budweiser house. We don’t want to send a different delivery person every time the truck goes out. You have to consider the driver’s familiarity of the lot, the equipment and the parking situation – all in addition to his knowledge of the customer. We want to maintain our good customer relationships, and just as importantly we want to take care of our drivers.” BI