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Cautions on paperless manifests
Several years ago, I was chirping about how the POS systems really needed to step into the
21st century with a paperless manifest that drivers could use to eliminate the antiquated paper
form.
The benefits of using your phone
or device to run the route would
make you believe that it exceeds the
old paper, pen and clipboard.
Once I saw SMRT, Starchup and
Spot’s versions in place, I performed
numerous cartwheels as I saw an
improvement in customer service,
accuracy and driver convenience.
Also, anyone can run the route
now with the GPS, drive-by-drive versions that make back-up driver solutions so much easier.
While I still get excited about a paperless manifest, there are many things you need to be
aware of.
One report came out that pedestrian fatalities are up nearly 50 percent in the last five years,
mainly do to the driver texting or looking at a phone.
While a driver may look at a manifest while driving, using a device can be a distraction while
performing route operations. We know of drivers hitting a few more cars and other objects due
to performing the steps necessary to go from stop to stop.
This is why it is so important to have the phone mounted on the dash or by the upper section
of the windshield so that it is more hands-free for the driver.
I recently rode with two different drivers who were ultra cautious using the phone while doing
the route. I could tell they were disciplined to not hold the phone while driving.
One of them even admitted to being distracted by the GPS as he often compared the phones
choices of turning versus his own. He tended to miss more turns and admitted to running a stop
light.
Another driver I rode with admitted to swerving more to catch up with his paperless manifest.
As we have discussed before, the extra steps some programs require takes the driver longer
to perform the route than the old paper manifest. It’s a trade off when it comes to an
experienced driver versus a newbie.
My point of view is simply this: While technology is designed to make our lives easier, the
human element is always there. The quicker the driver learns the route and territory, the more
efficient route operations are.
If drivers solely rely on turn-by-turn instructions, they will have a tough time learning the
route and keeping the route optimized.
I always challenge route drivers to remove the GPS from the equation and run the route on
their own. Oftentimes they get it done quicker by route memorization and the multi-stops at one
location log jam.
So what should you do? I have these suggestions moving forward with the paperless manifest.
1. Challenge drivers to not use the paperless turn-by-turn directions on every stop.
This way they can skip the extra steps going to each customer.
2. Purchase the magnets that clip the phone/device to the dashboard.
This allows for easy removal when needed, but keeps the device in front of the driver.
3. Do a ride-along to see how often the driver is moving and looking at the device.
The habit created will be tough to overcome and may provide you with the opportunity to
coach them on how to go hands-free.
4. Purchase Bluetooth headsets for drivers.
It’s better to be listening with eyes forward than to be having the phone in your hand.
5. Monitor complaints.
It’s better to be safe than sorry if people are calling about erratic driving.
6. Be careful.
Some states give tickets for having the device in your hand while driving. Know the laws.
7. Determine if the extra customer service steps are necessary.
This may save time and accidents.
The bottom line is to listen to drivers and their concerns, complaints and feedback. Some
drivers love the manifest while others love the paperless version.
See for yourself as an owner or manager in the field. While I love the paperless manifest
functions, I am also concerned about accidents. Again, educate and monitor the driver’s habits.

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
www.theroutepro.com.
He can be contacted at
(816) 739-2066 or
james@theroutepro.com.
James Peuster