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Blog August 2019 Updated July 2023

3 Solutions to Prevent Missed Collections

Improve Your Customer Loyalty. Residential waste and recycling operators across the country all deal with one very common issue: missed collections.

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Martijn Schimmer

AMCS Platform Specialist

Improve Your Customer Loyalty

Residential waste and recycling operators across the country all deal with one very common issue: missed collections. What most people do not realize is that a simply missed stop can be one of the costliest occurrences to a waste hauler. A missed collection can be costly to your business, but more importantly, it could negatively impact the relationship between you and your customers.

Let’s look at why missed collections happen and how a few preventative solutions can dramatically improve service while saving your waste hauling business unnecessary work and cash.

A few reasons why missed collections happen:

  1. Container Was Not Out -- Missed Collections are an extremely common occurrence that takes place thousands of times each day across the US. There are a host of reasons why a driver may miss or decide not to pick up a waste container. The most common reason is actually very simple; the container was not out. For most customers dragging out their container on a weekly schedule is not an issue, but on occasion, the simple task often slips their mind. Changes to schedules from holidays, inclement weather, or intentional changes in service can also throw off your customer and cause them to forget to put a container out.
  2. Overfilled Container -- An overfilled container is another reason a waste collections operator may not pick up the container. With customers paying for specific quantities and sizes of containers, an operator may elect not to pick up an overfilled container. Unscheduled bulky items, damaged containers, or dangerous material may also prevent a pickup.
  3. Contaminated Container -- Finally, a contaminated recycling container may be the reason a driver elects not to service a customer. Proper measures should be communicated to your customer base on what can be recycled to avoid this occurrence.

Most of the time there is a justified reason for an operator to not pick up a container. Rarely a driver simply misses a customer or does not recognize a new stop. Unfortunately though, without proper technology to document the reason behind a missed stop, frustrated customers will contact the waste operator and demand collection for their missed stop.  These isolated trips back out to customers can add up and be disruptive to your business.

To your customer, it may seem like a simple fix to have a driver return to service your missed pick-up, but it is not that easy. In reality, it is an expensive measure to go back to service these missed collections. Further, when operators decide not to go back, it can damage the relationship with their customers.

Haulers can attempt to minimize these costs by consolidating missed stops into a single route or by charging for the additional service, but almost never recoup the expense. Unfortunately, many times there is no way to determine whether the cart was actually put out on time, and haulers are forced to eat the cost.

There are a variety of ways to improve the efficiency of your collections and strengthen the relationship with your customers.

Here are 3 solutions to prevent missed collections:

  1. Use an In-Cab-Mobile Solution: Being able to document containers that are not out, contaminated, damaged, or blocked is key. When a customer calls in saying that the driver drove past, you can present them with visual evidence- a picture, date, and time stamp showing that the container was not out at the proper time. Easily diffuse controversial discussions regarding missed stops. Customers may not be the happiest to admit that they were wrong, but in the end, it will save both parties a lot of hassle.
  2. Implement a Customer Portal: A customer portal is a self-service tool designed to strengthen the relationship and communication with your customers. The portal will allow your customers to access all of their own account information: notification of changes in schedules, make payments, receive automated messages, view additional services and learn more from the online resources.
  3. Install Vehicle Technology – RFID or Onboard Weighing: Some of the most modern municipal waste operators take advantage of RFID technology to accomplish service verification, as well as track recycling participation rates. RFID embedded containers communicate with an RFID reader on the truck- communicating when a bin has been serviced. On-board weighing can allow you to verify when containers have been lifted and serviced. This applies to front-load commercial routes and rural residential dumpster service. It also allows you to improve route planning by taking into account truck capacities and average loads by customer.

All three of these technology solutions will dramatically reduce the number of missed collections your operators will face and improve your customer loyalty and communication.

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