Aristocraft Supply Spotlessly Delivers Dry-Cleaning Supplies with RoadWizard
Abstract: Read how Aristocraft Supply is leading the way in using technology to run their business efficiently. With SX.enterprise as their business system, they have reduced staff, increased control of their accounts receivable and inventory, and improved their business flow. With RoadWizard, they are poised to challenge their competitors with increased efficiency, greater customer service, and better margins.
The dry-cleaning and laundry industry is not something we spend a lot of time thinking about – we know where the nearest shop is located so that when we need its services, we know where to go. Remember your last trip to the cleaners? You dropped off your garments and picked them up the next day. Or better yet, they were delivered to you. You get your clothes on hangers of varying sizes covered in plastic bags sized to fit any garment. What we don’t see is the myriad of products required to run the business.
According to the International Fabricare Institute, there are approximately 30,000 dry-cleaning businesses currently operating in the U.S. with 85 percent being small, single-family, independent operations. Delivering dry-cleaning supplies to the approximately 3000 businesses in the Northeast is a challenge. The number of products required is extensive and the delivery service can be time-consuming and expensive.
The Dirty Situation
Any company that needs to deliver customer orders via their own truck fleet has the same challenge. Determining which orders to combine in a trip, how to load a truck, which drivers/trucks to use and in what sequence to deliver the orders are just some of the decisions that affect a company’s transportation cost, its service levels and its bottom line.
These decisions are complicated by customer delivery requirements, loading and unloading rules, and driver experience at a minimum. Optimized schedules can increase efficiency and customer satisfaction, but the number of options that need to be balanced can cause complex problems. With a large number of clients, orders and restrictions, dispatchers face intense time pressure and mounting frustration, which can often diminish the service level.
Aristocraft Supply of Oxford, Massachusetts is the premier full-service distributor of dry cleaning, laundry and tailoring supplies in the Northeast. They have 10 different delivery days and six delivery trucks making approximately 110 delivers per day. The manual process starts with printing all the orders scheduled for delivery the next day. The warehouse manager would sort through the orders, grouping together the deliveries that are in the same general vicinity. Using a map, they would determine the route in which the deliveries would be made, moving deliveries across trucks if needed. Then the products for each delivery would be assembled and placed at the loading docks in reverse order so that the first delivery’s order would be the last loaded into the truck for easy unloading.
“To manually determine the delivery schedule for each truck would usually take us at least 2 hours per day to organize the data and set up the routes,” said Mike Ross, vice president of operations. “Then we would have to leave the actual delivery schedule and route up to the drivers. The experienced drivers were fine, but when we had new drivers, we never would know how efficient they were in driving or where they were at any time.”
Cleaning Up the Process
When Expertek Systems heard of the challenges facing Aristocraft Supply, they used their knowledge of scheduling technology to build a product that would assist dispatchers and provide better management control over the delivery planning process. RoadWizard™ enables dispatchers to construct improved and more cost effective schedules in less time and offers the opportunity to review many “what-if” scenarios to determine the best delivery strategy. This affordable scheduling and delivery product helps companies like Aristocraft Supply reduce the costs associated with this critical process.
RoadWizard enables companies to schedule delivery routes, create driving directions and maps, provide estimated times for arrival, and have better visibility into the entire supply chain process, increasing productivity and reducing costs. RoadWizard is integrated with NxTrend’s SX.e products, enabling direct retrieval of orders from the business system, further reducing time spent by the dispatcher. Its integration with Microsoft MapPoint™ enables you automatically generate and print maps that are detailed, labeled for each stop, and feature a colored route line that makes navigating a snap.
When Aristocraft Supply started using the software, they immediately saw the benefits in efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings. Aristocraft Supply selects all orders for the day and schedules them across as many trucks as they feel they need. RoadWizard determines which deliveries go on which trucks and in which order. The warehouse manager gets a visual diagram indicating the orders, times they are scheduled to arrive, and driving time between stops. The manager can review the schedule and manually adjust it if necessary.
“The entire process of scheduling the deliveries has been reduced to 15 minutes a day, said Ross. “With the routes and delivery times determined by RoadWizard, we can provide better customer service by having accurate information about their order if the customer calls. In addition, we have more time in the warehouse now to perform routine maintenance tasks that help us increase efficiency throughout the operation.”
A Partnership in All Respects
Aristocraft Supply began their partnership with Expertek with the implementation of their NxTrend SX.enterprise system. From there, the two companies collaborated on one of Expertek’s other products, MobileWorks, the mobile order entry capability. This product has helped Aristocraft Supply increase productivity of their sales people, while decreasing the number of incoming faxes from 200 to 50 per day. Aristocraft also uses Expertek’s CommerceLink product to provide the catalog and ordering capability on their Web site.
According to Ross, “We believe our success has been because we partner with our vendors. This business is one of shrinking margins and we feel we need to be progressive in our use of technology to provide better customer service while reducing our overhead. Expertek is a pleasure to work with and their ability to quickly provide us with our feature requests says a lot about their expertise and responsiveness towards their customers. They work with us to satisfy our requirements, and we provide them with valuable input to their products.”
In an industry that is challenged by environmental regulations, shrinking margins, and a customer base that is not technologically on the leading edge, Aristocraft Supply is leading the way in using technology to run their business efficiently. Since implementing their SX.enterprise system, they have reduced staff, increased control of their accounts receivable and inventory, and improved their business flow. Now with RoadWizard in place, they are poised to challenge their competitors with increased efficiency, greater customer service, and better margins.