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Home deliveries need not break the bank

There are so many ways you can save money when you offer a home delivery service, says Aberystwyth pharmacist Gary Jones, developer of the Pro Delivery Manager (PDM) app

Gary Jones

I read with interest last month’s front cover story (PM August issue) about pharmacy chains limiting free home delivery services. This doesn’t need to happen.

The main problem with the larger companies is that they appear to have drawn a line in the sand in deciding they will only deliver to house-bound patients or limit the number of prescriptions delivered a day. They don’t analyse their delivery service and see where the losses are. The majority don’t even know how many deliveries they do each day, week or month.

The first question I always ask pharmacists is: how many deliveries do you do daily and how many hours does your driver work? Most pharmacies running a good delivery service do, on average, between 12 and 16 deliveries an hour. Those running a poor (i.e. unprofitable) service are averaging around four to eight deliveries an hour. This can make a difference of paying £10,000 and £20,000 a year for a driver.

One pharmacy group has capped deliveries at 45 a day because it has worked out that, by cutting the number of deliveries, this will proportionally reduce its delivery costs. What it has not worked out is that out of those 45 deliveries, five might be 10 miles in opposite directions. The delivery time will not be dramatically reduced as the time in the van and fuel costs will still be high.

Full picture

To operate effectively you need to have a full picture of your delivery service. You need to split areas into zones. Some zones you deliver to daily but others you may only need to deliver to every other day or twice weekly.

I used to deliver to a zone five days a week over a two-year period, but now we only deliver twice a week. Our average deliveries per hour has gone up from 10 to 20 and we have saved 16 hours a month, which equates to roughly £2,000 a year.

Pre-planning

All it needs is some preplanning, which can start in the dispensary.

  • Don’t just put all the deliveries that are ready to go in a box so the driver delivers what is in the box, then comes back later in the day and takes out the next batch in the box
  • Ensure your driver starts working when the prescriptions are ready and is not hanging about the pharmacy
  • The more you condense the deliveries, the quicker the delivery run is. The average cost of running a van is 45p a mile. If you save 10 miles a day, this will equate to £1,170 a year.

Using the PDM app will not only optimise the route but gives you the information that enables you to better organise your deliveries and keep check of your driver’s progress.

If your driver deviates from the optimum route, you will be notified via the PDM app. Patients are also notified about the delivery ensuring (hopefully!) they will be home to receive and sign for their medicines.

Version 3 of the Pro Delivery Manager app is now available.

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