Optimizing collection services: Electronic tools boost your bottom line

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

This economy has steadily pushed the value of recyclable commodities toward historic highs. As volume has grown in those commodities, so has the need for more automation and tracking that electronic tools and software provide. Many haulers in the waste industry start out with a truck or two and high hopes, but rarely anticipate the need for a system designed specifically to manage their business as it grows, adding assets and personnel as they evolve into a multi-line service company.

Traditional Versus Automated Operations

A large portion of businesses in the waste and recycling industry still operate using more traditional methods of management—usually a combination of spreadsheets and an off-the-shelf accounting package. Using spreadsheets and accounting packages means double entry of every aspect of the company’s service and billing information, and unfortunately, it also means the risk of potential errors is constant: missed service, a misplaced dispatch ticket, an incorrect invoice or even missing or stolen assets. Each inaccuracy costs the company revenue in one form or another and often goes undetected. Furthermore, the management and maintenance of all paper created in the collection service process, including the manpower to support it, comes with a tremendous cost and impact on the environment.

Whether residential, commercial or industrial, there are many advantages to using software and technology in today’s market, and that becomes apparent when an organization begins analyzing operational efficiencies, service objectives and environmental sustainability. Several key elements of any software package, if the business owner is aware of them, can aid in the decision-making process, lead to the implementation of the right solution and, ultimately, speed up cash flow. GPS tracking, online services and automation are not just for the big guys.

Complete waste and recycling industry software packages include modules to manage your entire business—integrated dispatching, routing, container tracking and billing features—which translates down to the single entry and centralized maintenance of all aspects of the customer and related service and billing information. Many also have the advanced capability to automate the capture of service verification or waste tonnages directly from the point of service or disposal site. Invoicing is reduced to a couple of keystrokes and can be delivered to customers electronically via e-mail or fax instead of the typical paper chase that can take days, weeks or even months to complete. Periodic accounting and productivity metrics are readily accessible with no more effort than selecting the report to print.

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