Mar 3, 2021

Delivering with Smart Zones: A Day in the Life of an Alsco Driver

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Kenny Durell

Data Engineer

Since our inception, Coord has been focused on how we can use technology to make loading in cities safer and more efficient. As part of this, we make a point to regularly talk to fleet and commercial drivers. We’re always trying to understand more about their day-to-day, their challenges, and how Coord and Smart Zones fit into their delivery plans. 

 

For this blog post, we asked Matt, a fleet driver in Aspen, to provide us a detailed glimpse of a day behind the wheel of his truck in his own words.

 


 

I work for Alsco, a national linen delivery company. I’m responsible for delivering everything from tablecloths, to restaurant supplies to bar towels to air fresheners to uniforms...basically, everything you need to help keep your restaurant or bar running smoothly and looking nice. I started delivering for Alsco in Colorado two years ago; previously I worked as a restaurant manager, and was convinced to apply for a job as a delivery driver by one of the Alsco drivers that delivered to my restaurant.

 

I start most Mondays at 3:30AM. Yes, you read that right. If you like to sleep in, delivery driving is probably not for you!

 

I leave the house by 4 and usually get to the truck depot in Rifle, Colorado by 5AM. Once I arrive, I walk to my truck and make sure paperwork and invoices are in order for my route for the day. I have a paper stop sheet as well as a digital one that is loaded onto his work-issued handheld. This process usually takes about an hour, and I’m on my way by 6.

 

I grew up listening to guitar-driven blues, so if you’re along for the ride to Aspen, expect Stevie Ray Vaughan or someone similar to be coming out of my truck speakers as I make the 70 mile drive.

 

Here’s a photo of my truck in an Aspen Smart Zone:

 

Once I arrive in Aspen at 8, my first stop is always in a Smart Zone in an alley near White House Tavern, on the north side of downtown Aspen.

 

As of a few weeks ago, I would hold my space in the alley by tapping “Hold Zone” in the Coord Driver app, when I was stopped at a stoplight on the outskirts of town, right before the bridge into Aspen. But Coord recently adjusted the hold process in the app to make it even easier for drivers like me. Now, I can tap on my destination Smart Zone when I’m at the truck depot, 70 miles away, and when I get within a half-mile, the zone will automatically be held for me! 

 

Once I’m a half mile away and the zone is held, I’ll see a countdown clock in the app with a 10 minute hold, which gives me peace of mind that it will be open and available when I arrive.  A few minutes later, I pull into the alley and park my truck in the held Smart Zone. I tap “Start Session” in the Coord Driver app and I’m off to my first deliveries! 



Figure 1. A driver’s view of the Coord Driver app, prior to starting a Smart Zone Session

 

On most Mondays, I have 4-6 deliveries from this stop alone, loading multiple 50-100 pound boxes of linens onto a dolly and navigating it through back doors, up staircases and into bars and restaurants that back onto the alley for 1.5-2 hours. On Mondays, I’ll also pick up large loads of used linens from the weekend’s dining to bring back to my truck.

 

If this doesn’t sound hard enough, Aspen is also known for its snow and cold temperatures, meaning the alley frequently has a minefield of icy patches for me to avoid in the winter. I don’t need to go to the gym anymore because this job gets you into shape fast!

 

I’m  one of the first drivers to get to Aspen in the morning, so I’ll begin to see other drivers show up in the alley as I’m finishing up this first set of linen drop-offs. The same drivers typically load and unload at the same times in the same spots, so if I see someone I know, I’ll wave hey.

 

When I’m back on the truck after these deliveries, I’ll open up the Coord Driver app to look at the Smart Zone on East Hyman near my next deliveries, Su Casa and Wild Fig. If it’s open, I’ll tap it and hold the zone before making my way over to it. 

 

If it’s booked, I’ll look at the next stop on my handheld and then tap a Smart Zone near it. I’ve  found Smart Zones and the Coord Driver app to be a huge improvement over the previous chaos of deliveries at the curb and in alleyways. I prefer using Smart Zones whenever possible, so I’ll usually adjust my delivery schedule based on the availability I see in the app.

 

Once it hits 11 o’clock, I’m off for a quick lunch break, getting back out delivering by noon to try to finish by 3pm. During COVID restrictions, I’ve been done as early as 1pm, but during heavy winter tourism, I might not finish until 4pm. 

 

After I finish up my last delivery, I call my manager to note any Aspen customers that wanted more linens than they requested and to see if there were any other drivers that reported their customers wanting more of a certain product. 

 

I care a lot about good customer service; my official job is to efficiently go between all assigned deliveries in a day but I make a point of carrying extras of most goods in my truck to help in those situations where customers need more than they ordered. I’ll go back and do quick deliveries of these additional linens to the customers that asked for them, delaying the end of my day but going above and beyond to make sure Alsco’s customers are happy. 

 

Once I’m done, I make the drive back to the same Rifle depot. I unload soiled linens and go through COVID cleaning procedures before meeting with my manager to complete the day’s paperwork and check out on my handheld.

 


 

As Matt drives home and the sun sets on his day of deliveries, Coord is happy to have played even a small part in making his day safer and easier. 

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Kenny Durell

Data Engineer

Kenny is a data engineer at Coord. In a prior work life, Kenny was the first hire at MightyHive, an advertising consulting firm, helping build out the account management team and the company’s first bid optimization products. When not at work, Kenny enjoys discovering new bands, running in new cities and learning new languages.