How Great Lakes Ace Hardware Increased Deliveries With Route Manager

The Great Lakes Ace Hardware stores, based out of the Greater Detroit metro area, needed to find an efficient software solution that would support their growing business especially during the current labor shortage. See how Route Manager 360 + GPS tracking has helped this business increase deliveries by 30%, enhance customer satisfaction, operate more efficiently and much more.

Services Provided

Home delivery service to Ace Hardware customers

Areas Served

Greater Detroit metro area

WorkWave Solutions

Route Manager 360 + GPS Tracking

About Great Lakes Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware has more than 5,000 stores around the world, with the majority of those stores independently owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. Ace stores offer a wide variety of paint, lawn and garden tools, local niche services and virtually anything you’ll ever need to fix, repair and maintain your home.

The Challenge

In early 2019, Great Lakes Ace Hardware began operating a centralized delivery service that included 44 stores in the greater Detroit metro area. Planning routes was extremely time-consuming and often done manually through Mapquest. Once the pandemic hit, online orders began to skyrocket — and it wasn’t a gradual incline. Ace went from delivering 50 orders per week to 200 deliveries per week in less than a month. Bryan Deats, their Senior Operations Manager, told us they couldn’t believe their eyes, and they didn’t know what they were capable of.

Route Manager has made it easy for us to get through huge surges of deliveries. We’ve literally gone from 10 to 100+ deliveries per week and it wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly if we didn’t have Route Manager.”

In the midst of scaling, their internal software that allowed all 44 stores (including three various-sized box trucks and three transit vans) to schedule deliveries was extremely manual labor-intensive and not efficient enough. Nothing was automated—they needed to create loads, capacities and routes all by hand. They were also only accustomed to scheduling deliveries for larger items, like grills. Once their delivery-based customers shifted from wanting only larger items to wanting every small and large item delivered, Deats knew that Ace needed to make a sustainable change in their operations.

Great Lakes Ace Hardware needed to find an efficient software solution that would support their growing business without skipping a beat, eliminate human routing error and provide efficiency without requiring an increase in employees and resources during the current labor shortage.

The Solution

Route Manager 360 + GPS tracking has helped Great Lakes Ace Hardware grow and operate more efficiently in ways that never seemed possible. As a retailer now delivering a wide variety of different sized items from lawnmowers to pallets of mulch, to pallets of ice melts, to grills and more, Route Manager can recognize and control the capacities of the various delivery types while also planning the most optimized routes — saving them loads of time, money and other resources. Deats was proud to mention, “The software’s intelligence and controls are really impressive.”

Just like so many other small to mid-sized delivery businesses throughout the pandemic, driver attendance for Great Lakes Ace Hardware is often unpredictable. They’ve appreciated Route Manager’s usability and flexibility to make manual vehicle number adjustments without having to manually reroute — which would have taken hours. Before using Route Manager, the loss of one driver in a day meant serious back-ups and delivery delays. Now, they don’t need to compromise on customer service and can make all of their deliveries by stretching another driver’s delivery schedule — all with just a few clicks in the software. Deats and his team can rest assured that their routes will optimize no matter how many drivers are on shift and how many deliveries are on the schedule.

Route Manager has made it easy for us to get through huge surges of deliveries. We’ve literally gone from 10 to 100+ deliveries per week and it wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly if we didn’t have Route Manager.”

Deats and his team have also been impressed with Route Manager’s Violations Warning Feature that pops up if a manual intervention to a route or vehicle will create some sort of negative chain reaction or truck overload. The last thing a delivery company wants is to show up at a pickup, for example, with a truck that’s too small to fit the entire load. Route Manager provides the flexibility to override this violation if need be, but Great Lakes Ace Hardware has found it to be extremely beneficial. It’s like having a watchful eye over every manual intervention within the system to ensure there are no chain reaction errors.

Route Manager makes the Great Lakes Ace Hardware delivery team’s day-to-day operations smoother by allowing them to provide constant communication with their customers, drivers and back office with regards to delivery time windows. Since using Route Manager, their customer service has been positively impacted as well. Customers are pleased that they receive accurate time windows based on real-time route statuses. The back office sends out an “Almost there” notification email which helps their store teams as well. If a customer ever calls in to ask for a tighter window, the store has visibility into the route status, which is extremely valuable.

Their customers have also appreciated the fact that drivers can now take a photo for proof of delivery versus the traditional signature. If a customer is not home at the time of delivery, they will take a photo of where they left the package and the customer will get an email with that information. This not only helps customers, but it allows the back office to have visibility into every order and every delivery in case any issues arise.

Route Manager’s Driver Mobile App is incredibly beneficial for the drivers because they don’t have to think about where to go next or how to get there. The user experience makes it easy for drivers to understand and use daily, and they find it super helpful. Any changes in routes are automatically updated and optimized in their route schedule — all they need to do is drive, deliver and capture a photo for proof of delivery all within the app. Drivers can also communicate with the back office through the app for any reason.

As a company with approximately 12 vehicles, Deats told us, “We’re not your biggest customer, but we feel that WorkWave truly cares about whether or not we’re satisfied — which is often not the case with other vendors.” In terms of pricing, he also mentions, “The monthly fee is very reasonable considering the remarkable value Route Manager provides. You can’t pay anybody to do what the software will do in a week for you for approximately $2 a day. So it’s very reasonable.

The Results

Grown from 3,900 to 13,000 deliveries in 3 years

30% increase in deliveries since 2021

An enhanced customer experience

The monthly fee is very reasonable considering the remarkable value Route Manager provides.

Ready To Learn More?

See how WorkWave Route Manager can improve your delivery business!

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