If you are moving from a loose cash accountability system based on products versus cash, the challenge may be larger. By taking DEX readings with a handheld at every service, you can bring cash accountability completely under control. If drivers have been able to take liberties with your cash collections, some will immediately know that the game is over and will look for other employment.
Most operators are moving from a system of tracking at the category level and need to accurately collect planograms at each machine before implementing handhelds or wireless monitoring. There are many successful ways to do this, but the most unsuccessful is sending out the driver with a new handheld and asking him to collect the planogram information with a new handheld.
No matter what method you choose, do not put the burden on the initial driver. Send a route supervisor or temporary help along with the driver to record the planograms and pricing in each machine. The ride-along person’s responsibility is to capture product, price, and inventory levels while the driver just does his job.
Here are the ways you can collect the planograms and price information at a driver’s machines:
Best Method: If your technology provider provides a mobile handheld solution that can configure machines, use it. The best ones can read DEX from a machine and set up the planogram. The supervisor needs to scan the products in each column and set prices. Figure A on page 34 shows a handheld’s machine administration screen that a supervisor can use to capture the information.
Second Best Method — Give your supervisor a laptop computer with an air card with access to your software solution. Then he can manually edit the planogram at the machine in the software while riding along with the driver. Figure B shows planogram editing for the same machine as shown in Figure A.
The last solution I recommend is sending out the supervisor with a written template that he can fill in that can be entered into the software system back at the office. This works, but I recommend it as the last solution because the information needs to be keyed into the software immediately. Many times, the data entry lags, and the driver arrives at the machine to do a service and the information is out of date when the driver returns.
Your goal is to make the initial service as easy as possible for the driver, so you should have the route supervisor or ride-along person to collect this data as accurately as possible right before the driver services the machine for the first time. If you collect the data a few weeks before the first service, the planogram may be out of date, causing the driver to have to make many product changes and waste time during the first service.
If drivers are paid hourly, they will have no incentive to make any new time saving system successful. If you position the handhelds as a time saving tool that can help them earn more money, the honest drivers will be on your side and will work with you to make the program a success.
Find ways to motivate drivers
There are other things you can do to help get the drivers on your side. One operator offered a $200 bonus to each driver to be paid once the driver’s route was fully functioning on reading DEX from all of the machines. This gave the drivers the incentive to accurately communicate DEX issues to the service personnel so they could quickly address them.
Another operator was trying to get his driver’s truck inventories to less than 1 percent shrinkage per two weeks — the truck inventory will only be accurate if the handheld data collected from the machine is accurate. The operator instituted a rule that if the driver met this goal, he only had to inventory his truck every two weeks, but those that didn’t had to do weekly or even daily truck inventories until the problem was corrected. Because inventorying the trucks was time off the route and earning commissions on a Friday afternoon, most drivers worked to make sure the data was accurate.
In a previous article, I presented a financial model for companies deploying both software and telemetry that demonstrated a 40 percent reduction in routes and increased sales. You cannot get any of these results without first moving to item-level tracking, and utilizing a DEX-based handheld solution is the most cost effective way to get there.