Route Management – Reducing Missed Collections: What We See Working

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Author, Vlad Zavgoro (Product Director at WIS)

Missed collections are an everyday issue that will never be completely removed. However, it is a problem that can be reduced. And just like any problem, before jumping headfirst into solution mode, let’s first look at the key reasons that cause missed collections.

Why Are Collections Missed?

Ninety-nine percent of collections are missed for two basic reasons:

  1. The collection company made a mistake
  2. The customer made a mistake

How Collection Companies Make Mistakes

  • There is a new customer on the route that the driver is unaware of
  • A new driver is using generic maps (digital or printed) to service the route
  • The customer had a unique request that did not filter through to the driver
  • Even experienced drivers will forget a customer collection sometimes

How Customers Make Mistakes

  • They forgot to out the bin out
  • They put the wrong bin out
  • They put the bin out too late, and the truck has already passed them by

Reducing Missed Collections

Once you have identified the different mistakes made by collection companies and those made by the customer, your solutions will follow the same separation.

Reducing Errors by the Collection Company

The key to solving this problem is technology and over recent years software and hardware in this space has reduced such problems dramatically. Human error (both by administrative staff and drivers) is the main reason that collections are missed. Technology will automate many of the tasks where these errors are being made and give you a system that is dependable, accurate and reliable. For example, instead of a driver having to remember new customer collections, they simply follow the updates on their onboard computer that shows them exactly where they are. Communications or updates from administrative staff to drivers also cause problems as they are often mislaid. Technology will remove this problem from your business by automatically pushing the request to the truck’s onboard computer, which will then display to the driver. Such systems will also have on screen verification or confirmation options for the driver to press so that you are keeping track of all collections and task completions.  

Reducing Errors By The Customer

When looking at how to reduce missed collection caused by the customer, these are our top tips. For both ‘forgetting to put the bin out’ and ‘putting the wrong bin out’:

  • Send SMS reminders the evening before: The cost of an SMS is a fraction of a cent, but this can add up when you have big customer numbers. The SMS cost will still work out cheaper than the cost of phone calls with annoyed customers ($1 on average) along with the cost and inconveniences caused by returning to collect the missed cart. It is also important not to forget that missed collections are still one of the main reasons that customers leave to go to a different company, so when you count in lost revenue, the SMS cost is quite small.
  • App Push Notifications: For those that have an app in place for their customers, push notifications are ideal. They are far cheaper than SMS notifications and easy to manage.
  • E-mailing/Sending Out Calendars; Everyone does this and it will always serve a purpose. How often have you seen a printed schedule on a fridge door? They still rely on people to check them and, therefore, are easily forgotten. Simply put, it is not the best reminder.  

When customers are putting the bin out too late, it helps to get your trucks servicing the same customers at the same time. Creating good customer habits is key. If you are turning up at different times every week, your customers are never going to get it right. Solutions that track the time individual collections are made help to mitigate this problem. This can give you a dependable average timeframe that a customer can expect for their collection. It also helps you to see that regular collections times and schedules are being delivered by your drivers.

Solutions Available 

For SMS messages, you have many options. However, we advise that you look at the integration of SMS messages into your routing system. For instance, consider software that has this built into it, so that there is no separate integration needed and everything is then managed from one CMS system. This also takes extra workload off your administration staff.  

It is not hard to get someone to build an app, but integrating with routes can be hard and more labor-intensive. An app that is purpose built and looks to the back office for all the information is an ideal solution.

Calendar management is the simplest option. However, for large collection schedules, it can become complex to keep track and to make sure the customer gets the correct calendar. Look for ways of delivering many different types of calendars. 

Automate as many (human error prone) tasks as possible. For example, when adding (or updating) a customer, you can automate a scheduled SMS reminder message to be sent the evening before their collection day. Similarly, you can attach service route calendars to invoices.

Good Communication and Creating Good Habits

The key to reducing missed collections is to first understand the reasons causing the problems and then taking control of areas that you can improve. Available technologies will make a big difference. By implementing modern fit for purpose technology solutions, there is no doubt that you will reduce missed collections. We have seen reductions of 78 percent in missed collections within the first three months of using such solutions. 


When it comes to customer errors or mistakes, a combination of reminders and good habits are key. It is essential that you have a good communication structure in place to send timely reminders to all customers ahead of their collection day. It is also important that you stick to similar collection times so that you are building a good habit and routine for the customer.


Vlad Zavgoro has worked in WIS for 10 years, starting as a software developer focusing mainly on their suite of truck apps and routing. For the last three years as WIS’ Product Director, he has led the routing product team and has worked with waste companies around the world, developing solutions that allow any driver to drive any route and reduce missed collections. Vlad can be reached at


For some useful videos to show these solutions in operation, visit


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