Livin’ the GPS Life

Murray Pratt Business Insights, Life

Coffee Shop

Coffee Shop

Every morning I go to Tim Horton’s to get my ‘double-double’.

And this morning, owing to the fact I didn’t eat much for supper the night before, I decided to order a ‘Combo Breakfast #8’ – which was comprised of a Bacon & Egg breakfast wrap with hashbrowns and, of course, coffee.

The lovely woman at the counter said to me,

“Unfortunately sir, the hash-browns are seven minutes away – do you want to wait or get something else?”

So I said rather plaintively,

“Where are they? I can just go get them.”

She lifted her head, eyes wide with a quizzical look on her face, not quite believing what I had said. She said rather haltingly,

“Ah… um… well they are… um… in the oven.”

I smiled, then she smiled, and we both had a good laugh.

My response was somewhat Pavlovian, giving the nature of the work we are doing at Tailwind these days. My first thought was GPS-centric – a picture in my head of steaming hot hash-browns being delivered by a truck barreling down highway 17.

The development team at our transportation management software company is always working on integrations to our application based on the suggestions and feedback we get from our customers, and from the research that we conduct on the trucking and freight brokerage industries. For us it’s not only important to address what’s important to our customers now, but to also keep an eye on the horizon and look out where we should be going. In many ways it mimics the very GPS systems that hook into our transportation management software.  You know where you are, and it guides you to where you are going.

We have number integrations we look at for our customers – mileage applications, fuel integrations, load tracking and driver tracking.

The world is increasingly operating on a ‘just in time’ basis where commodities and goods are rolling according to a schedule – arriving at their destination so that either the customer experience is maximized (fresh fish!) and /or the costs of inventory and warehousing are kept low. Merchandise tied up in inventory is costly to a business so the logistics industry looks for ways to keep the stock rolling while minimizing the size and duration of its stay at one particular location.

I certainly don’t think that we will see hash-browns being delivered on a ‘just in time’ basis as part of a combo-meal, but it is important to understand that years ago one of the biggest flash points at the donut chain was the move to a centralized baking operation that distributed donuts and cookies out to the stores for heating, and the removal of baking activities at the stores themselves. These logistics were put in place to address a cost issue as well as a skills shortage (bakers) at the stores.

While I wouldn’t expect my breakfast wrap, hash-browns and coffee to arrive from anywhere other the counter at the front of the restaurant… one day… you just never know!

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