National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Looking for a paperless manifest
How important and efficient is a paperless manifest?
Back in the ’60s, the race to the moon was one of the most competitive, essential missions of
the United States and Russia.
Each launch, each orbit brought
each country one step closer to
achieving the greatest
accomplishment man would ever
know. Think of the millions and
millions of times men, women and
children would look at the moon in
amazement and imagination.
Headlines and TV reports documented
every step of the way.
So what does this have to do with
free pick-up and delivery?
Well, the latest challenges for all those whose routes have grown and continue to grow is to
simplify the manifest and eliminate the pages and pages of printed stops.
Many POS systems are striving to achieve this, but even with today’s technology, there
appear to be hurdles or issues that are not achieving what many operators were wishing for.
Several years ago, I met with Garmin to determine if there was a way to capture the manifest
data and convert it to the GPS device so that it becomes the actual manifest. Stop order,
customer notes as well as clothes to be delivered were some of the hurdles, but they did feel
that it would be a possibility.
Although some POS systems have the capability of transferring customer information to a
GPS device, the actual route manifest would not be duplicated on it. Many experienced drivers
are probably more accurate and more efficient without them anyway. So we all waited for our
POS systems to launch their own.
Fast forward to today and many now are promoting a paperless manifest for tablets, laptops
and phones. Some are still in beta testing whiles others are looking pretty good.
The excitement of utilizing 21st century technology to make our service easier with fewer
mistakes provides us with the opportunity of making the customer service experience better or
more accurate. Or does it?
I’ve seen various systems and here is my blessings and curses list, or in other words, the
good, the bad and the ugly. Each has my top 5.
The good
1. Paperless manifests are great for back-up route drivers or recently hired ones. Since many
of them come with drive-by-drive instructions or a GPS element, anyone can drive the route
2. Some can accurately time stamp when and where the pick-up or delivery was made. If the
system is live, it can actually close out and bill the client on the spot.
3. No more printing of 20 to 30 pages.
4. Some of the systems allow you to add customers or make notes on the fly. New customers
can easily be added by the driver right there and then.
5. Invoices can be scanned when delivering, and the system will alert if you scanned the
wrong one or mis-scanned one. A couple of them also base this on the GPS location.
The bad
These are not deal-breakers, but…
1. Not all of them are “live”, so the changes and updates are not immediate or communicating
with your hosted system.
2. All the equipment can be cumbersome and handwriting in your van is needed.
3. If clothes are being scanned out on the truck, it actually can slow down an experienced
driver. If it takes 30 seconds longer per delivery and you multiply that by 60, that’s 30 more
4. A paperless manifest tends to be less detailed than one that has notes on it.
5. A manifest can be highlighted and some of the paperless options are not. This slows the
driver down on deliveries.
The ugly
1. GPS is not always 100 percent accurate, so misdeliveries occur when the driver believes he
is at the right stop when he is not.
2. Drivers tend to be a little bit more rushed than other positions and they are harder on
3. Jumping around if needed tends to be harder and slower for paperless manifests.
4. Many are still in beta testing and drycleaners would love to have them now.
5. Since some run on tablets or phones, updates tend to make the system crash.
Now, before you think I am bashing them all, I am not. I love the concept. Five years ago I
wrote about how the race to a paperless manifest would make that POS system my personal
favorite. Most of them are really cool with neat bells and whistles that your driver should use.
Just remember the drawbacks and determine if it is worth it. If your driver doesn’t buy into it,
he may not use it or use it right.
I believe that many of them will get to where everything is right there on one piece, with live
interaction and GPS directions and GPS tracking. Route optimization and documentation with
access to emails, etc., would take the cake.
Many are close, so be patient; they will get there. Just realize that if we become too
automatic with route servicing, what happens when, not if, your system crashes? Also, your
drivers must still validate addresses, not just assume they are at the right one.

James Peuster offers
onsite training and all
aspects of routes.
Management, marketing
and maintenance are all
key components in
developing a million-
dollar route.  You can
listen to his radio
programs on
He can be contacted at
(816) 739-2066 or
James Peuster