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Matt Brett4 min read

What Is Route Optimization? The Ultimate Guide for Service Businesses

How route optimization pays off for small- and medium-sized businesses 

Route optimization needs to be on your radar if you’re the owner of a small- to medium-sized service business that’s focused on everything from final mile delivery to medical supply delivery to non-emergency medical transport to trade businesses like HVAC, plumbing, electrical repairs and more.

But, why?

The improvements route optimization technology can bring your business range from automation that helps delight your customers and improve your customer service (while saving money!) to cutting down on dreaded paperwork (for drivers, fleet managers, and even in-house mechanics) while helping free up valuable time for you, the business leader, to work on more meaningful, profitable tasks.

Save this guide – as we’ll answer some of the most common questions about route optimization and give you the information you need to begin exploring a smart investment in this very smart technology.

Among the topics, we’ll cover:

  • What is route optimization?
  • What types of businesses use route optimization?
  • What are the benefits of using route optimization?
  • What’s the technology behind route optimization?
  • Is route optimization cost-effective?
  • Does route optimization software easily integrate with existing systems?
  • How have other companies used route optimization to their advantage?


What is route optimization?

Route optimization is an easy-to-use, web-based tool that calculates the most cost-effective and efficient routes for fleet vehicles, based on multiple variables, including those you can define for your business. These variables can include distance, number of stops, traffic conditions, vehicle type, driver hours, and other factors – in real time. And they provide you with the ability to answer any and all customer inquiries with accurate ETAs and updates.

Route optimization can be used in conjunction with other software/hardware solutions ­–including fleet management, vehicle tracking, dashcams, and more. (Bonus recommendation: find a route optimization partner that looks at your specific business, fleet, technologies in use today, and helps you route the best path forward to achieve your short- and long-term goals.)

What types of businesses use route optimization?

Businesses of all types and in all industries use route optimization. These include large companies with hundreds of vehicles in their fleets. Small- to medium-sized transportation and logistics, delivery, courier, and field service businesses also employ route optimization and realize the same benefits.

ASCEND's Route Optimization summary screen on a desktop monitor

What are the benefits of using route optimization?

By creating the shortest and most time- and fuel-efficient vehicle routes, route optimization delivers multiple benefits, including:

  • Maximize the number of stops and/or jobs that can be completed
  • Savings on fuel costs
  • Savings on labor costs
  • Reduced overtime required to manually map out and revise routes
  • Ability to significantly increase productivity by maximizing the number of stops in a route
  • Fewer miles and less wear and tear on vehicles
  • Improved accuracy in estimating schedules and arrival times
  • Ability to deliver superior customer experience and loyalty
  • Improved safety and compliance by managing driver hours or service
  • Happier and more productive employees

What’s the technology behind route optimization?

Route optimization combines GPS location monitoring and mapping technology that calculates the fastest and most efficient routes to each stop on a vehicle's route.

Connectivity through a user-friendly mobile communications app makes it quick and easy to communicate with drivers in real-time and deliver initial and revised routes so they always know where to go next and how to get there as quickly as possible.

Is route optimization cost-effective?

Costs for route optimization can include an upfront charge to install the solution and an ongoing subscription fee. However, by improving efficiency, reducing labor and fuel costs, and improving a company’s ability and capacity to serve customers, route optimization can provide ongoing savings.

These savings can offset the cost of the route optimization investment.

Does route optimization software easily integrate with existing systems?

While not all tools are the same, route optimization can be easily integrated with and work alongside existing software and hardware solutions.

When vetting a route optimization provider, the evaluation process should include asking questions about ease of integration. Here’s a more in-depth guide to read when finding your next solutions provider.

How have other companies used route optimization to their advantage?

There are countless examples of small- to medium-sized businesses that have seen significant returns on their investment in route optimization.

One such company, CUI Grounds Management in Cleveland, Ohio, relies on route optimization to help track its fleet vehicles and ensure drivers are where they’re supposed to be.

Explore ASCEND

ASCEND’s Route Optimization for Fleet Managers is a great option for a small- to medium-sized business looking to tap into the benefits of route optimization.

By prioritizing simplicity, visibility, and exceptional customer service, ASCEND’s all-in-one solution eliminates integration headaches and puts the full power of fleet analytics at your fingertips.

Plus, our powerful communication tools and easy-to-use app make it easy to stay in touch with your people in the field

Request a demo and learn how you can say goodbye to the overtime associated with route planning.