If you scheduled a donation pick-up by the Asheville ReStore at your home or business sometime in the last 18 years, odds are you probably spoke with Piper Parker, the ReStore’s Scheduling Coordinator. In a recent conversation, Piper offhandedly mentioned, “I remember when I had to ask for step-by-step directions to each home or business, and then communicate the directions for each stop to the truck drivers every day. Things have changed a lot since then.” It was a casual statement, but it brought to mind how much the ReStore has grown and transformed since 2003 when Piper started.
While Piper currently logs around 165 calls each week, or 8,500 calls every year, (and that’s only counting the calls that result in a scheduled truck!), her job hasn’t always been like this. When she first started, she was scheduling about 60 stops a week for one truck, and she was in charge of all volunteer scheduling, as well. Eventually a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator was hired and Piper began to devote all her time to scheduling donation pick-ups by ReStore trucks. One thing is for sure, her old method of hand-writing directions for each pick-up definitely wasn’t going to keep up with the growth trajectory the ReStore was on. Thankfully, over the years Piper has eagerly innovated her process, and with the help of technology, effectively tripled the number of annual donation pick-ups.
After spending her first few years handwriting directions for the truck drivers, Piper heard of a volunteer named Dick Milholland who built a computer program for Asheville Habitat’s Construction Services department. She reached out and asked if it would be possible for him to do the same thing for ReStore truck scheduling. Soon, with Mr. Milholland’s help, Piper began entering directions into the computer which generated a printed multi-page document for the truck drivers to reference each day. Over the next 5 years, the Asheville ReStore would add two more trucks to their fleet, tripling the number of weekly donation pick-ups. GPS systems were also eventually added to the trucks so that Piper was then only printing a one-page list of stops for the drivers each day, without any added directions.
Soon after the addition of the second truck, the ReStore surpassed the $1 million mark in gross revenue, confirming the
importance of expansion and innovation. Higher ReStore revenue meant more families served. With the addition of a third truck, the ReStore began advertising their free donation pick-up service on television and things really picked up! Throughout this period of intense growth, Piper used Mr. Milholland’s homemade program for scheduling trucks until the ReStore upgraded to a Point of Sale (POS) system with built-in scheduling functionality in 2015. Currently the system is so streamlined that the trucks start each day at the farthest point, increasing their weight as they get closer to the ReStore in order to most efficiently use their fuel.
As with everything else, growing into scheduling 165 stops every week has certainly been a process. But Piper Parker has been there, willing to innovate and adapt at every stage.
Piper will celebrate 18 years with the Asheville ReStore this June. Next time you call to schedule a pick-up, be sure to congratulate her on 18 years of a job well done!