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Benefits and Challenges of Using Excel and Google Sheets for Route Optimization

Efficient route planning is essential for any transportation business looking to save time, money, and fuel while improving customer satisfaction.  

Many businesses—including non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) companies—turn to tools like Excel and Google Sheets for route optimization due to their accessibility and ease of use. However, these tools often have limitations that hinder their effectiveness in complex scenarios. 

This article explores the advantages and drawbacks of using Excel and Google Sheets for route optimization and introduces a more advanced and comprehensive solution to meet your business’s needs. 

Spreadsheets as a Route Optimization Tool 

Excel and Google Sheets are popular tools that many businesses use to plan their routes.  

They have several advantages, such as being widely available, easy to use, and familiar to most users. However, they also have many drawbacks and disadvantages regarding route optimization.  

Sorting by Zip Code to Optimize Routes in Excel 

This simple method involves sorting your customers by their names, addresses, and zip codes and visiting them in that order.  

This can be especially useful for operators who don’t have a long list of clients to transport each day, and it provides a simple solution for ordering rides by time and location. 

However, this method does not consider the road network, traffic conditions, or customer preferences. It also assumes that all zip codes are equally sized and shaped, which is only sometimes true. This can result in inefficient and inaccurate routes that waste time and fuel and frustrate customers. 

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Combining Excel and Google Maps for Route Optimization  

This is a more advanced method that involves exporting your customer data from Excel or Google Sheets to Google Maps and then using Google Maps to plot and create your routes.  

If you plan a smaller number of trips—10 or fewer—this isn’t a bad option, as 10 locations are the maximum number of trips you can populate.  

However, transferring data between Excel and Google Maps and updating your routes whenever customer data or preferences change can also require manual work. This results in time-consuming and error-prone processes that reduce your productivity and profitability. 

Using Add-Ons for Route Optimization 

This more sophisticated method involves using Excel Solver or other add-ons to solve the route optimization problem as a mathematical model.  

However, this method is still limited by the capabilities of Excel, which can only handle small-scale problems with a few variables and constraints. It also requires a lot of technical knowledge and skills to set up and use the model correctly, and to interpret the results.  

This can result in complex and confusing processes that increase risk and liability. 

As you can see, using Excel or Google Sheets for route optimization has some advantages but can present unfortunate drawbacks: 

  • Time-consuming and error-prone manual processes 
  • Lack of real-time updates and communication 
  • Inability to handle complex scenarios and multiple vehicles 
  • Difficulty in ensuring compliance and billing accuracy 

These disadvantages can negatively affect your business performance, customer satisfaction, and competitive edge. That’s why you may want to consider a better solution for route optimization, such as NEMT software. 

How to Optimize Your Routes with NEMT Software 

Optimizing your routes means finding the best way to service all your customers in the shortest time and distance, minimizing costs, and maximizing customer satisfaction. 

But how do you optimize your routes?  

You might use Excel or Google tools to plan your routes, but are they the best business options? Let’s compare the methods of using Excel or Google for route optimization and see why NEMT software—like Tobi—provides a better choice. 

Route Optimization 

Most NEMT software solutions offer a comprehensive and intelligent solution for route optimization.  

They use intelligent algorithms to automatically create and optimize your routes based on customer data, preferences, and constraints.  

It also provides real-time monitoring and live messaging, simplified billing and claims management, customizable pricing models and multi-fleet management, driver app and booking portal, and many other features and benefits, such as: 

Autonomous Dispatching and Routing With Smart Algorithms 
NEMT software can automatically assign and optimize your routes based on customer data, preferences, and constraints. 

It can handle any number of stops, vehicles, drivers, and scenarios, such as time windows, capacity limits, service times, skills, priorities, etc.  

Programs like Tobi can also dynamically adjust your routes to changes in demand, traffic, weather, or other factors to ensure optimal efficiency and effectiveness. 

Real-Time Monitoring and Live Messaging 
Track and monitor your vehicles and drivers in real time using GPS and other sensors.   
It can help you improve your visibility, transparency, and accountability and enhance your customer service and satisfaction. 

Customizable Pricing Models and Multi-Fleet Management 
NEMT software offers flexible and customizable pricing models to suit your business needs and goals.  

It can also support multi-fleet management, allowing you to oversee multiple fleets and sub-fleets with different vehicles, drivers, and customers from a single platform.  
Specialized software allows you to optimize your resources and utilization, your market, and your reach. 

Driver App and Booking Portal 

Most NEMT software providers include a driver app and a booking portal, which enable drivers and customers to access and use your services quickly and conveniently.  

The driver app can provide drivers with all the information and tools they need to complete their tasks, such as route details, navigation, customer contacts, delivery confirmation, and more.  

The booking portal can allow your customers to book and manage their orders, track and communicate with their drivers, rate and review their service, and more. This can help you improve your user experience and loyalty while growing your customer base and improving retention. 

A Better Way to Optimize 

Route optimization is a crucial aspect of running a delivery or service business.  

However, for many NEMT operations, there are better options than using Excel or Google Sheets for route optimization. These options present many drawbacks and disadvantages, such as time-consuming and error-prone manual processes, lack of real-time updates and communication, and the inability to handle complex scenarios and multiple vehicles. 

Tobi is an ideal solution for route optimization. It offers a comprehensive and intelligent platform that uses smart algorithms to automatically create and optimize routes based on customer data, preferences, and constraints.  

It also provides many other features and benefits, such as real-time monitoring and live messaging, simplified claims management, customizable pricing models, multi-fleet management, a driver app, a booking portal, and more. 

Tobi can help you improve efficiency and effectiveness, reduce costs and risks, increase revenue and profit, and enhance customer service and satisfaction.  

Tobi helps you optimize your routes and your business. 

Curious to see how Tobi can help you run your NEMT operations more efficiently? Sign up for a free 30-day trial and experience how Tobi makes your business better at every turn.