CPG Team Management

The Ultimate Schedule Optimization Checklist

The Ultimate Schedule Optimization Checklist

With limited time and a finite number of employees, it is up to managers to create a schedule that allows reps to achieve full coverage and to be productive while not oversaturating the field with unoccupied reps.

An optimized schedule is one that is as perfect and cost effective as possible while achieving the highest levels of performance. Optimized schedules have helped organizations improve productivity and capacity by 10 to 15%, found actionable intelligence solutions provider Verint Intouch. It not only reduces managerial pressure, but improves efficiency of employee work days. In this post, we’ll help you learn how to make the ultimate schedule for your reps.

What Makes Scheduling So Difficult?


Unfortunately, even the most canny manager cannot anticipate the unexpected. The inability to predict conflicts that may arise when scheduling is the “what if” in the back of any manager’s mind. From traffic to family emergencies, it is impossible to expect the various shocks that can affect schedules. Devising back up plans for schedules and implementing a procedure for when shifts need to be covered are methods to soften the instability that may arise. Reps should be up to speed with the ins and outs of your products so they can handle consultations and samplings effortlessly. 


All reps have their own lives and unique schedules when they’re not on the clock.  Varying availability imposes an additional conflict for scheduling. For example, many reps may request a particular time off. Managers want to make a schedule that works for everyone, but often find it difficult making everyone happy. When scheduling, they are caught trying to fit together everyone’s specific availability while making sure all shifts are covered. Having a broad range of reps that can be staggered through the different times of day and between locations can help managers address fluctuations in availability.


Just as managers can’t predict conflicts, they also don’t know how much time to allot to the minuscule distractions that occur unexpectedly. Interruptions can disrupt even the best schedules and reps. Little distractions such as paperwork and delays can take time out of reps’ schedules and prevent them from tending to their scheduled responsibilities. Nearly 25% of the time, field reps fail to make their appointments on time, resulting in revenue loss and reduced customer satisfaction, Time Organizations reported. When schedules account for these unexpected interruptions, they provide reps enough time to be at appointments and store visits without the stress of being late. Reps promote your company’s product, making timeliness and common courtesy invaluable in building customer relationships.

Careful schedule optimization can help keep reps from rushing or missing appointments.

Benefits of Schedule Optimization:

Reduce cost

Avoiding wasted time and inefficient scheduling helps companies cut costs. Optimizing labor scheduling and budgeting alone can help retailers cut store labor costs by up to 12% according to McKinsey & Company, while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction. The lower costs associated with scheduling optimization show that it is not only effective, but is worthwhile to implement.

Improve employee satisfaction

A schedule that is well-planned and optimized will provide reps with shifts that works best for them and for your business. Happy employees are 12% more productive, reported The University of Warwick. Better scheduling means happier reps which company culture, customers, and revenue will benefit from.

Reduce wasted time

Schedule optimization can minimize travel time during shifts. Routes, visits, and customers can be coordinated to achieve greater proximity and enhance quality of visits because employees will be more focused on the visit as opposed to not having enough time. Turnover times can improve by as much as 60% found Verint. Schedule optimization allocates tasks to limit inactive field work and deters reps from wasting time. This way reps have plenty of time educating customers about your products and closing sales.

Your Schedule Optimization Checklist:

1)    Use scheduling software - More than 40% of organizations plan to have mobile workforce and labor scheduling, and recruiting and onboarding, within the next 12 months. Scheduling software can help keep track of appointments and client visits, integrate employee schedules, and analyze key data. Technology is an accessible tool for easy optimization that will simplify the labor of manual scheduling.

2)   Do manual scheduling alongside automated scheduling - Balancing between automatic scheduling through scheduling software and having a manager manually schedule is key. Belk Department Stores implemented this kind of system and saw a 2% increase in gross profits in just a few months, reported Harvard Business Review. Allowing the technology to take the brunt of the hard work alleviates the burden of scheduling, but having a set of eyes take a second look can help mold it around your team's specific needs.

3)   Block your day - Creating blocks throughout the day designates when certain activities should be performed is a structured approach to organizing your team’s day. This will set aside time for each task that needs to be completed and layout the day for teams. Leaving time for breaks and downtime keeps employees from being overworked, and allows them to catch up on their additional responsibilities.  

4)   Remain flexible -  Having employees active in the scheduling process can reduce conflict later on. Listening to their input and preferences, and trying to work with them can provide better insight to which reps fit better where. Ninety-seven percent of respondents said flexible scheduling has been effective for recruitment and retention of older workers, according to an SHRM employee benefits report. A schedule where changes are easily made and communication is open provides the necessary information to construct an optimized schedule.

5)   Align employees and scheduling – Talking with employees about times and shifts that work best for them allows for flexibility, but also can match employee strengths to the schedule. For example, if certain reps are highly knowledgeable of a particular customer or have built a strong relationship with them, you can tailor those abilities to align with their work.

Optimized scheduling helps your team stay on track! Overall, operations will run more smoothly and align with your team’s particular needs. Managers can lock schedules down, making their lives easier and giving reps stability. Antiquated scheduling techniques inhibit maximum productivity and efficiency. This checklist will make sure your company doesn’t fall behind and will improve your team’s time management.


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Gabrielle Downey

Gabrielle is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly with an enthusiasm for creativity and innovation. While pursuing her passion for writing, she is studying economics and philosophy at Boston College. She spends her free time exploring Boston in search of the best cup of coffee and cannoli.

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