When it comes to routing, did you ever wonder how we got from there to here? With the launch of our revolutionary Dynamic Routing solution, we thought it would be interesting to take a quick look back at how routing used to be done, how it has evolved over the years, and where it’s going in 2024. So we sat down with one of the original RealGreeners, Joe McPhail, for his take on the history of routing and RealGreen’s place in it.
Before computers were widely used, most companies managed their routes through pen-and-paper with route cards, whiteboards, and map boards. But these methods were time-consuming, tedious, and error-prone. That’s ultimately what led RealGreen to create the first integrated software designed specifically for the lawn industry.
It was during this era that the then-owner of RealGreen went out into the field to run a route on a particularly busy day. To his surprise, the hardest part of the day wasn’t loading a truck, pushing a spreader, or managing clients. It was finding the next spot – and this was a city he was familiar with. “That’s what led us to create routing software,” said McPhail. “It was designed to solve a problem for lawn care businesses.”
The first routing solution made available to RealGreen customers was through an integration with a product then called Descartes, which was then primarily used in the newspaper and cleaning industries. It was complicated and hard to use, but most of all, it was very expensive. In 1996, it cost $20,000 to install and an additional $10,000 to update each year. (Adjusted for inflation, that would be nearly $40,000 and $20,000 today.) Around 20 companies signed up for this service.
RealGreen launched its first version of Routing Assistant, then called Mapping Assistant, in 2001. While it wasn’t quite as sophisticated as Descartes, it was considerably easier to use – and the price tag was $15,000 cheaper. Within two years, half of all RealGreen customers had signed up. As time went on, we refined Mapping Assistant to include a visual route designer and reporting visualization tools, among other features; ultimately, Mapping Assistant became Routing Assistant in 2015.
In 2020, RealGreen merged with WorkWave, which had a routing software called Route Manager – a product that combined the sophistication of that early, expensive RealGreen solution with the added benefit of 25 years of improvements. With development, we were able to keep the easy-to-use aspects of Routing Assistant and combine them with the automation and AI-based technology behind Route Manager – and so Dynamic Routing was born.
Fully integrated with Service Assistant 5, Dynamic Routing is truly a game-changer. It brings us full circle: a highly sophisticated routing engine combined with RealGreen’s industry-specific focus and user-friendly interface. With Dynamic Routing, users can even further streamline their routes. It creates the most efficient routes using your specific rules – sort and optimize based on technician skills, licensing and availability, customer availability, vehicle capacity, traffic patterns, service type, and more. Your constraints play a pivotal role in guiding the algorithm, creating a rulebook our system follows to develop the smartest routes – but retaining the flexibility you need to adapt to changing circumstances and specific customer needs. Once configured, you can rely on the system to generate smooth, efficient routes without constant manipulation.
Dynamic Routing is truly the future of routing for green – and it’s here now, ready to help make your business run even smarter. We’ve come a long way from paper cards and maps! Schedule your free demo today to see how much time and money you could save with our game-changing, industry-defining solution.