Collect Services – Call and route planning optimization

The challenge

  • Automating the scheduling of bailiffs’ travel to reduce planning time
  • Maintaining an interactive approach that harnesses management experience
  • Grouping bailiffs’ visits logically to achieve optimum call density and minimum cost
  • Applying the same approach to optimizing walking routes and long-distance travel
  • Increasing the number of agent visits per day, reducing travel and saving cost

Without a doubt it’s the best investment we’ve ever made.

Collect Services, one of Britain’s leading firms of enforcement agents (generally known as bailiffs), needed a comprehensive geographically-based planning system for the allocation of agents to enforcement visits – one that would ensure each agent could fit the maximum number of visits in a day, and would also take account of where the agent lived, minimizing travel time to and from the working area.

The company needed to take account of its varied work load, which includes identifying vehicles using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) vans, and sometimes recovering them in the field. It also wanted to cater for the increasingly long car journeys made by agents, needed to enforce parking fines where the offence is committed in the South East, where the company is based, but the offender may live many miles away.Bailiff planning solution cuts mileage by 50%

Collect Services was particularly keen to create a planning system that took advantage of the knowledge and experience of its key managers, enabling them to interact with the chosen software, applying their judgement to make initial choices, then allowing the automated technology to take over.

Operating to maximum efficiency has become increasingly important to the company as the tightening economy has imposed ever tighter cost constraints on the operation, since the wage bill inevitably represents a high proportion of costs.

The solution

  • The Geoconcept geographic information system from Mapmechanics
  • The TRUCKSTOPS routing and scheduling optimization system
  • Consultancy and integration to combine the software into a compelling product suite

Using this system, we control the bailiffs’ movements – they don’t control us.

Mapmechanics worked closely with Collect Services to create a customized agent planning solution called Collections. This takes a data feed of required agent visits (there are usually about 14,000 available), groups them geographically with Geoconcept, the powerful geographic information system, then arranges them in practical daily schedules using Truckstops, the vehicle and people scheduling optimization system.

Trips can start and end at agents’ own homes, and can be configured in a lozenge shape if required, giving agents the chance to return to houses where there was no one home at the first attempt without adding cost or disrupting the rest of the day’s schedule.

Collections provides a strongly interactive approach. Managing director David Rayner or another team member can outline an area on the Geoconcept screen map manually with the mouse, and visits within the area are identified automatically for scheduling into journeys by Truckstops.

The flexibility of the system makes it equally suitable for planning walking routes and car journeys. Increasingly the company is using Collections to construct journeys lasting two or three days, during which the agent will make calls on the way to a distant area, then spend time there making local visits.

The benefits

  • A far higher rate of agent visits per day than industry norms
  • A major reduction in mileage and efficiency improvement on long-distance operations
  • Comprehensive performance reporting and statistical analysis
  • Cost savings amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds

It combines the power of the software with our personal knowledge, giving us total flexibility.

The Mapmechanics solution has had a major impact on Collect Services’ efficiency, helping it raise the average number of calls in a day to 50 or more – far above industry norms.

On long car journeys, agents are now completing between twenty and thirty calls a day – as good as the national industry average for local operations – and are travelling between 150 miles a day, compared with around 50 before. Yet because calls are planned more logically, the system is saving around 50 per cent of the mileage run in the past.

On the local work, the system has proved invaluable in planning optimal walking routes – even saving agents from crossing main roads too often.

The system produces many types of report from Geoconcept, using thematic mapping to present the results on screen. For instance, it can perform call density analysis and statistical analysis on “gone away” addresses.

Collect Services says the system has saved hundreds of thousands of pounds. “Without a doubt it’s the best investment we’ve ever made,” David Rayner says. “It combines the power of the software with our personal knowledge, giving us total flexibility. Using this system, we control the bailiffs’ movements – they don’t control us.”