Route Drivers, Accounting Team Complete Work Faster
Touting “the best buns in town,” Puritan Bakery has served Southern California since 1938. The continuously family-owned and -run company delivers fresh hamburger buns and breads daily to restaurants, fast food stands and coffee shops, including many of the area’s iconic establishments. Now serving more than 1,000 customers, Puritan attributes its growth and longevity to quality products and superb customer service.
Due to the short shelf life of bakery products, Puritan bakes and delivers its breads each day based on customer demand. All customers must have their orders in by noon the day preceding delivery.
Although Puritan delivery drivers used mobile devices previously, they were not integrated with the main office. That meant order changes given to drivers in the field were not received until drivers returned from delivery routes.
“Before, change would take forever because you were dealing with two different timelines, two different companies, two different programmers and you could never get them integrated,” said Matt Grimes, president of Puritan Bakery.
Additionally, the accounting staff also had to wait for drivers to return to know what was loaded and delivered, preventing them from starting on account reconciliations.
Finally, lack of real-time visibility into orders hindered management from making timely business decisions.
“I wanted to know how much bread they had on the trucks leftover when they came in and I wanted to know how much bread they sold and to whom they sold it to, so that way we’d have total control,” said John Markulis, partner, Puritan Bakery.
Puritan sought a next-generation solution that would merge its mobile applications with back-office systems in a single solution. Working with a Zebra Technologies partner, Puritan found its answer in customized software. Connected with Motorola MC9090 handheld devices and Zebra MZ 320 printers, delivery drivers can communicate data back to the office in real time.
With the new process, as drivers load bread onto their trucks in the morning, they then sign off via their handheld devices regarding the specific contents on board. The device communicates that information wirelessly to the office software.
“Immediately in the morning, our office knows what drivers loaded up,” Grimes said. “Now the office can start reconciling before our driver even hits the first store.”
Each driver makes about 40 deliveries to 40 different customers. With each stop, they input the exact order quantity and amount for the customer. Instead of printing receipts at the truck, as drivers did previously, now they carry the compact Zebra MZ 320 printers right on their belts—making each stop more efficient.
“Using these tiny little Zebra printers, he can go right into the store, make his sale, print it out, hand the invoice to the person and be back out into the truck,” Grimes said.
“It’s nice,” added Dave Olivas, route sales, Puritan. “It makes it very easy to track our inventory, quick to print our invoices. Some of the other systems are so big you actually can’t carry your printer inside and it just makes things much more efficient and quicker.”
By the time the driver returns from a route, the accounting staff has already reconciled all accounts for that driver—as soon as the driver leaves the last store.
Additionally, Zebra printers also allow Puritan to customize each invoice based on the needs of each customer, contributing to customer service.
The new mobile solution, integrated with office systems, delivers efficiency in the field and back at the office. In fact, Puritan estimates that drivers now save approximately 30 minutes every day, thanks to on-the-hip printing and real-time transmission of data back to the office.
Office staff also reduces the time to complete daily order reconciliations for customers. The handheld system automatically transmits orders wirelessly to the office as they happen, so accounting can complete reconciliations hours earlier. Likewise, baking staff and management benefit from having insight into order data sooner than before.
“The solution brings collaboration between the different roles within a distribution organization,” said Jim French. “Everyone has information whether they’re mobile or back office to be able to make that decision to drive the sales and increase the profitability of a company.”
Most importantly, the solution contributes to Puritan’s enduring reputation for quality service. On-site printing expedites each visit, and the Puritan office immediately has order data from which to answer customer questions.
“I think our customers like it too because, if they want to know what they bought, all we have to do is go into the computers and search it and we can tell them,” Markulis said.